The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Labels distract viewers from real issues

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new reality show on television. It’s called “Label That Presidential Candidate.” TV newscasters are the major players. The winner is yet to be determined, but the losers are the viewing audience. While the nation is in the midst of one of the most important primary seasons ever, the networks seem focused on stereotyping the candidates rather than clarifying their positions.

Hilary Clinton has been portrayed as “cold,” “smart” and “driven.” Wouldn’t it be good to know what makes her smart, what drives her and her exact plan for turning around an economy headed for recession? Instead, we are overwhelmed with the images of her infamous “emotional moment” while on the campaign trial in New Hampshire.

The newscasters said that this moment “humanized” her. Of course she’s human, just like all of the other candidates. But do we know what point she was making at that moment? Not really, because according to the networks that part was not as significant as the fact that her voice broke and she became teary-eyed.

Mike Huckabee has been labeled as the “religious” candidate. The former preacher is also a former governor. The networks talk about his religious stance, as opposed to his plan to do away with income taxes. His evangelical calling helped to fuel the controversy behind the supposed “cross” in one of his TV campaign ads.

Barack Obama also has his label. He is the candidate of change with “celebrity backing.” The support of high profile friends such as Oprah and George Clooney has overshadowed his stance on immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq. Further, wouldn’t it be helpful to know what changes Obama would like to make and how?

Mitt Romney carries the somewhat unfavorable label of “rich.” The label implies that he can buy his way into the White House, something most Americans disapprove of. Perhaps rather than focusing on his personal wealth, the news should focus on how he moved the Massachusetts state budget from a deficit to a surplus.

The networks have decided that some candidates are not worthy of their labels simply because they are not considered front-runners.

They include the names that are not mentioned, such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul among others. Perhaps if the coverage was about issues rather than labels, we would hear the names of other presidential candidates who have compelling arguments.

Television is a staple in most homes (and dorms) across the nation. Though other media (such as the Internet) are gaining in popularity, TV remains the primary source for news and information. For these reasons, the networks should provide news coverage that enables its viewing audience to make informed decisions.

So what can be done about it?

I would suggest viewing television news with a very critical eye. Use your own intellect to decide between issues and non-issues. Go beyond television to whatever sources you need to make an informed decision. This presidential election is too important not to.

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