In order to make an informed decision before voting in an election, it is essential to become familiar with the candidates and their positions on issues that are relevant to the voter. Utilizing media outlets to inform one about these issues does not necessarily present a balanced or even accurate framework on which to judge candidates’ views on matters. The fact that there is a need for websites such as Media Matters, Politifact and PoliticsUSA, all of which are designed to correct distortions and misinformation presented by the mainstream media, underscores the reality of media bias. In addition, the popularity of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which also pokes fun at the media for its trivialized and biased coverage, is further evidence that there is an audience that is motivated to hear about the news, including politics, in a way that is not contaminated by right-or left-wing leanings.
Left-wing individuals and organizations tend to see the media as conservative and right-wing; the reverse is true as well. In particular, cable news networks are viewed as presenting opinion rather than fact (Right-Wing Media Bias in the Assault on Journalism.) A prime example is the election of 2008, in which the media was completely infatuated with then candidate Barack Obama to the point that one of the pundits, Chris Matthews, remarked that “he felt a tingle go up his leg when Obama spoke.”(The Huffington Post.) It was virtually a done deal: the mainstream media were overwhelmingly in the tank for Barack Obama, and did their part to make sure he was going to be elected (Aronoff.) The amount of news coverage of if Obama far exceeded that of any other candidate, including his nearest rival, Hillary Clinton, who, despite receiving three million votes in the primaries, was nearly completely demonized by the press. She was described in misogynistic terms, her attire was criticized in a way that no male candidate would have been subjected to, and she was characterized by Chris Matthews as a she-devil (McEwan.) Clinton’s campaign was described using negative cultural stereotypes, such as viewing a powerful, ambitious woman as a frightening, witch-like monster that threatens civilization itself.