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US election 2016: How American media steers public opinion towards Hillary ClintonUS election 2016: How American media steers public opinion towards Hillary Clinton

As of 7 November, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s number of newspaper endorsements stand at 57, while Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s at around 10, that is, if you include small dailies as well, including the Crusader, the official mouthpiece of the KKK.
It’s not a surprise that so few newspapers are endorsing Trump — rather, the surprise is how even a few are endorsing Trump. Of course, with the Crusader, it’s quite obvious as to why. It’s similar to the meagre support that Trump is receiving from African-Americans: he’s reportedly polling at 2 percent, as revealed by Trevor Noah in his segment in The Daily Show. (Again, who are these mysterious 2 percenters?)
A number of media outlets expressed explicit support for Clinton, chalking up record firsts for their deed — The Atlantic made its third endorsement (first for Abraham Lincoln, and then for Barry Goldwater) since its founding in 1857, nine newspapers that supported Mitt Romney in 2012 departed from tradition to support Clinton in 2016, while those that backed Obama are yet to switch sides to Trump.

There’s polarisation at play and Clinton is winning this round. But how important are newspaper endorsements, especially with their dwindling value, and with the rising importance of social media? And don’t forget, we’re living in an age where politics is increasingly polarised.
For one, newspapers see it as civic responsibility — helping voters (first-time and repeat) make an informed and a morally conscious choice, and who knows, it just might make a monumental difference in the election.
The BBC explains a concept called ‘crossover endorsements’ in view of the current election where a politically conservative newspaper’s refusal to endorse Trump is reasoned by the fact that he isn’t a “typical Republican candidate”. This way, they don’t seem to veer away from their editorial stance and ideology, at the same time remaining a pillar of democracy.
Two Brown University economists, Brian Knight and Chun Fang Chiang, studied whether voters are influenced by newspaper endorsements. The result was affirmative; that voters were likely to pick the recommended candidate, but the influence remained tied to the credibility of the publication. The research also took into account the newspapers’ biases — if a right-leaning or a neutral publication supported a Democrat, the readers were more likely to take the recommendation seriously.
This election involves an anomaly — Donald Trump. Given that he isn’t a traditional candidate, let alone a traditional Republican, this brings the endorsement issue into the spotlight; even if it may not swing the votes in favour of Clinton, it may create a small but significant dent.
However, newspapers aren’t the only form of media to hand out stamps of approval. Late night television shows have been increasingly moving towards that territory, perhaps beginning with Jon Stewart, who it can be said of, pioneered political commentary in the late night TV segment, interspersing it with comedy. For 16 years, Stewart dominated political satirity on TV, a mantle that has now been taken over overwhelmingly by the Englishman, John Oliver and followed by Samantha Bee, who’s currently offering the lone woman perspective.

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