October 25, 2016
In late September, an audio leaked of Hillary Clinton describing Bernie Sanders supporters as people who live in their parent’s basement due to a lack of available jobs.
The next day, headlines of conservative news sites read, “Clinton calls Bernie supporters basement-dwelling losers.”
In October, Donald Trump spoke about hardships that veterans face when they return home and how some veterans commit suicide because they are not strong enough to deal with their feelings of abandonment.
The headlines from liberal news sites then stated, “Trump calls veterans with PTSD weak.”
With the general election ending on Nov. 8, it is no surprise that unbiased, honest reporting on the candidates is harder to find than a leprechaun riding a unicorn through Atlantis while drinking from the Holy Grail. With these headlines, the wrong information is easy to obtain.
But the days of reading through an article from start to finish are dead.
A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that the average reader spends only 57 seconds scanning an online article, with less than six seconds dedicated to the headline.
Pair that with confirmation bias, which is a person’s tendency to interpret new information as confirmation of a belief or theory, and you have a perfect recipe for politically biased media posting headlines just to catch the reader’s attention.
Do you know what’s not covered in a headline? Tax policies, legislative proposals and political stances.
The criteria that people need to know when they choose which candidate to vote for is exempt from headlines.
As voters, it is our responsibility to research a candidate’s stance on every political topic and vote for the one that we most agree with, not read a headline and repeat it like it is a reason to dismiss an entire political agenda.
Talk to the anyone and they will tell you about how you shouldn’t vote for Clinton because of something she did while serving as secretary of the state or how Trump is unfit for the office because of something he said as a private citizen.
But ask the same people to explain Trump’s seven-bracket tax proposal, or Clinton’s stance on foreign policy, and they’ll stare at you like you just asked them to recite the first 50 digits of the number pi.
Even the fact-checking sites are not immune to personal bias.
Snopes, a site known for fact-checking urban legends in media, was just caught omitting crucial information regarding police officers not being served at Kroger stores. They accused police groups of making the whole story up.
So do some research. Spend 30 minutes reading about the candidate’s platforms, and actually think for yourself during these elections.
You are all college students about to go into the real world. At this point, research should come second nature to you.
And, to be honest, you should know better than to do anything less than that.