Media misrepresentation further radicalizes Trump supporters

Carl Karouta

Through its shift toward clickbait and increased sensationalism, the media is failing at its job to adequately inform the American people. Recently, large media outlets blasted Trump supporters with the headline, “Nearly 20% of Trump Fans Think Freeing the Slaves Was a Bad Idea.” These articles pushed a biased, selective interpretation of a recent poll as if further antagonizing Trump supporters would accomplish anything.

In the poll, voters were first asked if they approved of executive orders, then if they thought executive orders were constitutional and next if they approved of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which was presented to them as “the executive order which freed all slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the federal government.”

Republicans are known opposers to executive power, especially in light of Obama’s recent executive orders regarding the environment and gun control. When the questions began to focus on this topic, respondents became fired up and all executive orders become suspicious by association.

Through this process, the series of questions baited responders into answering negatively and sounding racist. In essence, the poll failed to distinguish between those who are strongly against executive intervention and those who are just racist.

Further exacerbating the problem, reporters blatantly lied about the demographics of respondents. This was a poll of the general population, not just Trump supporters as the articles stated.

It yields no surprise, then, that Trump supporters become outraged at mainstream media when these headlines simply affirm their distrust of the system. Supporters who are not racist feel antagonized and their critics are intolerant and judgmental, so they are further radicalized. In turn, this propagates the “us vs. them” mentality that has so polarized our current political system, rendering it ineffective.

On the other hand, the fact that their candidate appeals so well to racists should raise questions. Trump supporters are the only demographic in which over half support the creation of national database of Muslims, and fewer than half believe that Islam should be legal in the U.S. Additionally, 16 percent of South Carolina Trump supporters believe whites are a superior race, as opposed to supporters of the other white Republican candidate John Kasich at only four percent.

While it speaks loudly that Trump is the most popular candidate amongst racists, antagonizing his entire voter base only contributes to a divisive atmosphere instead of promoting open and thoughtful dialogue.

Those with radical opinions will participate in dialogue when they feel welcome. When they hear from others, they will realize the flaws in their opinions. On the other hand, when the media serves to polarize and inhibit dialogue, racists will stay racist and everyone else will continue to mock instead of educate.

Karouta is a chemical engineering freshman from Plano.