Home > B3 and B4, Learning > How Far Will They Go?: Manipulation in the 2012 Election

How Far Will They Go?: Manipulation in the 2012 Election

Studying campaign commercials this trimester really peaked my interest.  In a world where technology rules, media is extremely important.  For an election, media is even more important because it can make a candidate look great or make their supporters doubt whether they still intend on being a supporter.  Campaign commercials and other types of media have always been crucial within the election, but in recent years, since technology has become more relevant, these commercials have gained so much power that they could potentially make or break a candidate’s career. In the 2012 election, vital candidates such as Obama, Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich have used the power in the media to bring themselves up while tearing their opponents down.  This, in theory, seems be fine, it’s a competition after all, but the way that some candidates do this is by manipulation.  Candidates can manipulate in many ways, but, ultimately, there are two ways of manipulating in the media: twisting around and placing opponents’ words into different context and omission.

The first way of manipulation in the media is twisting around the words of opponents and placing them into different context.  Basically, candidates will take a piece of what an opponent said and use it to their advantage.  An example of this is Mitt Romney twisting around the words of Barack Obama saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose”.  Romney is attempting to manipulate the citizens of New Hampshire by saying that Obama was “trying to distract us from what matters” (http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/mitt-romney-ad-twists-obama-s-words-works/231147/).  Later, it was discovered that Obama was actually quoting John McCain.  Romney took this quote completely out of context because the actual quote by Obama was, “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose’”.  The problem with this, besides the obvious twisting of words, is that the public is not going to go look back on each quote by each candidate, they are just going to hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe.  Romney’s manipulation here may have actually played a part in helping him become the front-runner of the Republican Party.

An example of omitting the complete truth is Rick Santorum’s campaign commercial that seems to be about Obama and his faults but ends up being about Romney and his.  The narrator says that Romney’s “big government-mandating health care included $50 abortions”.  This is referring to the state health care law signed by Romney.  It said nothing about abortion when he signed it.  Later the Commonwealth Connector was forced, by a Supreme Court ruling in 1981 that “women eligible for Medicaid had a state constitutional right to payments for medically necessary abortions” (http://factcheck.org/2012/04/deja-vu-the-latest-attacks-from-santorum/).  Again in 1997, the state high court ruled that Massachusetts “must cover medically necessary abortions if it covers other medically necessary care, such as childbirth”.  Later, the ad claims that Romney “supported radical environmental job-killing cap and trade”.  Many years ago, when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he had the idea of a regional cap-and-trade system for the Northeast, but then decided to drop the idea completely.  Romney clears up the situation by saying that he does not believe in the cap-and-trade program, that it doesn’t make sense for Americans to “spend trillions of dollars to somehow stop global warming”.  He said that Americans will lose jobs and that it just wouldn’t be successful because “energy intensive” industries will “just get up and go somewhere else”.  But, again, this manipulation in the media completely threw everyone into frenzy, causing them to look away from one candidate and into the dirty little secrets of others.

The easy-access to media has completely changed all presidential campaigns.  Because of this easy-access, candidates have been forced to take media and tend it to their needs.  Candidates have been forced to use the media in any and all ways that help their campaign.  To do this, some candidates turn to the positives aspects of themselves, but, more often than not, candidates use the media to show a negative side to their opponents, and when there isn’t a negative side, or they cant find it; they will turn to lying as a way to make sure that there is a negative aspect.  They know it will be seen as negative because they, basically, created it themselves by molding it and warping the truth to look and sound the way that they want it to.

Wondering how much of what you hear is true? Check out factcheck.org!

  1. meganri
    May 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Good article! I didn’t know about either of the incidents with campaign commercials…politicians these days, huh? I’d say move one of your pictures up toward the top so when someone first opens your reflection, they’re captured by the picture. Overall, a great reflection and very well written.

  2. djkirby26
    May 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    The first thing that came to mind when i started to read your post is that it was too long, and i didn’t want to read it. But overall i felt that you reflected well on your subject and made clear and valid points about manipulation in campaigns.

  3. miranduhmoe
    May 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Very powerful, well written blog you have here, Nicole! The only thing I would have to say us that it is too long and the fact there was no picture at the top of the page to give me a good laugh and intrigue me to want to read it. But when I read it, I was really interested as to what you had to say. GOOD JOB!!!!!!!!!!

  4. nbkennard
    May 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Meg: I thought about doing that, but didn’t know if it made sense to. I guess it does! I will do that now.
    Kirbz: Yeah, I didn’t know how long to make it, and I sort of got really into the topic and couldn’t stop…sorry

    Great comments!

  5. nbkennard
    May 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Miranda: I completely agree. See my comment above^^.

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