By Greta Hallberg, For The Miami Student
Donald Trump is leading in the public opinion polls. Donald Trump, the man who screams, “You’re fired” at unsuspecting businessmen is running for a chance to sit in the oval office.
In the latest poll from the Iowa Caucus, Trump has 25 percent of public support, a seven point lead over the next highest candidate.
What’s weird is that most people I talk to are terrified at the idea of a Trump administration. In fairness, a lot of them are political science majors who tend to pay more attention to politics than most. Regardless, response toward Trump is overwhelmingly negative in my unscientific public opinion polls.
Real public opinion polls, the ones done by pollsters that involve actual math and a broader range of people, are a pseudoscience — entirely manufactured by the media, often completely without its awareness.
When the media brings attention to a policy or a candidate, the public deems it as important. The media acts as a gatekeeper, deciding what information to bring to the public light — like what is happening in Washington, or lately, Iowa.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, until we bring public opinion polls into the conversation. The people and issues that the media covers are the people and issues that perform well in public opinion polls.
Donald Trump garners the media’s attention. He is unafraid to speak his mind, often offensively. He’s misogynistic and blunt. And quite often, he’s wrong about the facts that drive his misguided campaign platform.
Because he says such outrageous things, the media covers him. The attention is not always as positive as his polling rates, but his name is in the media daily, even hourly. His name is in the forefront of people’s minds because he’s in the news for something he said every day.
So ,when pollsters call John Smith in rural Kentucky to ask whom he’s likely to vote for in the 2016 primary election, he says Donald Trump because it’s the name he hears most often.
Now, as an aspiring journalist I’d like to believe that most reporters know enough about politics to not want a Trump White House. I refuse to believe that this is an intentional way to skew the polls in Trumps favor.
But I do think that Trump is entertaining. He makes some really off-base comments. He stars in Internet memes. Put simply: Trump gets clicks.
In today’s media environment, clicks are synonymous with revenue. Donald Trump’s campaign makes money for the news media industry by being the laughing stalk of the Internet.
I get the appeal of income for a struggling industry, I really do, but covering Donald Trump cannot be the way to go about it.
The irony of being “media” myself and writing about Trump is not lost on me. But it’s time journalists stop giving his campaign serious coverage.
Stop covering the campaign and Trump stops leading in the polls. When he stops leading in the polls, the public will be more interested in legitimate candidates who have more than a giant wall and a bad attitude to bring to the White House.