Hamilton: Campaign 2016, Fasten your seat belts!
May 12, 2016
For almost certain, Donald J. Trump will be the GOP presidential nominee; however, it is not so certain that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. Mrs. Bill Clinton faces some serious problems with regard to her handling of highly classified national security information. She faces some serious questions related to Benghazi, and there are questions about donations by foreign entities to the Clinton Foundation during her time as secretary of state. But, for now, let's assume the contest will be the Donald vs. Hillary.
Oddly enough, in terms of raw vote totals (not delegates), more people voted against Mr. Trump and against Mrs. Clinton than voted for them. So, how can it be that the two candidates most people were against end up as the nominees of their parties? This suggests something amiss in how the two major parties award the delegates to their national nominating conventions. A topic for another day.
Between now and November, we are about to see how the Major Media will deal with a race between two candidates who enter the presidential arena with high negative ratings and personal backgrounds that present ample opportunities for the worst sort of down and dirty campaigning that could cause voters to stay home in droves.
Erik Rydholm, the creator of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," says modern journalism has fallen into three baskets: There is the "what" basket where reporters are supposed to tell us "what" happened. The "so what" basket where journalist try to tell us how the happening relates to the same sort of happening in other places. Finally, there is the "now, what?" basket where editorial writers opine about where the story and the problems it illustrates are headed and what needs to be done about them.
The "what," "so what," and "now, what" trilogy is further complicated by recent advances in communications technology. We are all familiar with the "Old Media," consisting of newspapers, TV, and radio which fit rather neatly into the three baskets. But the "Old Media" face stiff competition from Internet-based news aggregating services such as the Drudge Report, Real Clear Politics, among others, and from the 24/7 cable news services where competition to be first with the news sometimes leads to shallow, inaccurate reporting.
But wait. There's more. Due to social media, we now have billions of people who have, in effect, become their own news networks. Without any training in journalism or any exposure to journalistic standards (assuming, they still exist) billions of people observe whatever they want to observe and report their observations to their friends, neighbors or "followers." Sometimes, their observations go viral.
As a result, the upcoming presidential campaign will be conducted in a journalist jumble of the three-basket Old Media being battered by the 24/7 Internet-based news aggregators and cable news services, and all of the above being hammered by non-journalist, social-media observers who, with some quick strokes with fingers or thumbs, can skew reality as they see it from their window on the world into something far removed from objective reality.
To paraphrase the late Hollywood actress, Bette Davis, "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy campaign."
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the Army Language School, the George Washington University, the Infantry School, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.