RTA 902 — Blog #1: What’s Supposedly ‘Right’

Democratic nominee Joe Biden debates current President Donald Trump at the first 2020 Presidential Debate in Cleveland, OH (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)

Wow.

Can we talk about the presidential debate that just took place for a second?

I thought arguments of political nature were moments to incite change. Speeches where servants of our society were able to preach what they felt needed to happen, in such a dignified manner that audiences could find reasons to amicably agree. I thought that the purpose of debate was to stimulate the collective mind of the masses; where citizens of a country were called upon to examine its leadership in such a manner that was not held back by blind party loyalty. I thought the role of a nation’s leader was to champion their people; to honorably represent the many faiths, creeds, races, and orientations that made their country great.

I thought I was right in believing this.

Back in 2016, when Donald Trump was just only vying for the presidency of the United States, I couldn’t bring myself to even consider that he could win. Everything that he stood for negated my understandings of how a world leader should act. But some people, or rather, a growing number of the population it seemed, liked that.

Donald Trump wears a baseball cap citing his “Make America Great Again” slogan while campaigning for the 2016 Presidential election (Gage Skidmore)

“He’s a straight talker,” we would hear. “He’s gonna drain the swamp.”

Even family friends of mine, whose behavior and views are not remotely close to those of Donald Trump, began to buy into this rhetoric.

“He’s a businessman. Comes from a background of successful ventures. And best of all, he’s not caught up in the entanglements of being a career politician.”

So, again, can we talk about the presidential debate that just took place for a second?

In a world where over the last four years, the President of the United States has suggested that not all neo-Nazis are bad people (bet you forgot that one, didn’t you?), claimed that all Mexicans are rapists, and instituted a travel ban on Muslim majority countries, as well as many other countless heinous acts-

YOU WANT TO VOTE FOR HIM AGAIN?

On Tuesday, September 29th, 2020, current President Donald J. Trump “squared-off” against former Vice President Joe Biden. They were supposed to discuss the many issues dividing their nation. Black Lives Matter. The COVID-19 pandemic. This was a chance for either party leader; whether he be Republican or Democrat, to prove that they will be a formidable leader amidst this time of uncertainty.

Instead, what ensued was a cacophony of interruptions and insults. In only an hour and a half, Trump managed to seemingly approve of the white supremacist group “The Proud Boys”, harass his opponent’s son Hunter Biden for his drug use, and later mock the former Vice President for wearing a mask. It all came off as an augment of personal pride, rather than a promise to uplift the people.

Full viewing of the first 2020 Presidential Debate (C-SPAN)

As much as I hate to consider it, Trump’s re-election is a grave possibility. In fact, many citizens of the United States’ population revel in that notion. Under the Trump administration, we have seen an increase in open acts of violence and hatred. The message to me reads: “When the leader of your country is so transparent in his disdain for all that opposes his fundamental beliefs, why shouldn’t you act in accordance?”

Over the next 24 hours, I will surround myself with right-wing media, cutting away from my traditional news sources of The Atlantic, The New Yorker, NPR, among many other liberally minded publications.

It’s time to discover what is supposedly “right”.

Screen capture from the popular children’s show, SpongeBob SquarePants (Nickelodeon)

In focusing my attention upon the United States’ upcoming 2020 Presidential election, I began my “descent” into right-wing media by reading the front page of Fox News. The apparent poster boy for conservative American politics, I was presented with an onslaught of different pictures depicting Donald Trump’s face.

What I found fascinating about the headlines that accompanied them was how they seemed to either promote the President’s leadership decisions or effectively attempt to vilify his opponents.

I look at both of these headlines, and I can’t help but immediately think of two things:

  1. Trump showing no symptoms of COVID-19 will most certainly be used as a ploy to further discredit the dangers of the virus, with the hope of rallying the public to vote Republican.
  2. By including the words “some Black woman” when describing Biden’s comments regarding quarantining, it immediately paints the Democratic nominee in a possibly racist, poor light.

But let’s dive into these two articles, shall we?

In consideration of the first one, which discusses Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, it wasn’t necessarily the paragraphs which followed the headline that piqued my interest, but rather the accompanying news video.

(Side note- Medium did not let me embed the video from Fox, but can be viewed on their site via the link above)

Fox News reporters outright refused to acknowledge the severity of the virus, and rather focused their attention upon the President’s swift handling of its effects. I found their comments to be horrifyingly positive, this sort of “It’s all good, bro!” approach to a devastatingly infectious disease, as a primary issue in regards to the nation’s handling of the pandemic.

Even worse, I thought that they were shockingly uplifting.

Hoping for change is tough. The champions of social justice rally on the power of optimism, and look toward the “bright future” as a means to stay positive during their quest. The truth of the matter is, longing for change, fighting for it with every last breath, tweet, and protest sign, can feel downright bleak.

So when I hear comments which call attention to Donald Trump’s relaxed ability to carry out his duties as President, of course, I want to believe that this is the case. It’s nice! It’s exciting! But unfortunately, pretending that the problem isn’t there has never been an attitude that has sat well with me.

If anything, this mindset of ignorance has me even angrier about the state of American politics. What a luxury to be able to truly believe that “everything is fine, so long as it isn’t affecting me”.

So if this is how Fox News props up Trump, how do they rally against “the other guy?”

Something that I immediately noticed was how the broadcaster grabs the reader with a flashy headline, yet doesn’t want them to read the article. Though this isn’t a tactic exclusive to right-wing media outlets, it did appear to be indicative of Fox News’ subtle desire to dismantle the Democratic nominee.

Beginning with the announcement that Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris were ahead of Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in approval ratings, they were quick to excuse this matter through the reasoning that the Trump Administration had a “rough week”.

(Side note- Medium did not let me embed the video from Fox, but can be viewed on their site via the link above)

In reframing the President’s current affairs in a manner that dissuades the issues of his past, Fox News employs a sense of pity toward him. Week after week, right-wing media points toward Trump’s failures as momentary lapses, rather than acknowledge that “covering up” for his mistakes has been the narrative throughout his entire presidency.

To be a subscriber of Fox News, it seems, is to focus on the positives of the moment, rather than analyze and solve the issues behind a greater problem. I must admit, however; the calm bravado which associates itself with their reports, again, is startlingly reassuring. Because if Fox News is able to shroud said issues behind fake smiles, and if they are able to present right-wing sentiments with a hint of elegance, what does it say about their audience? Do the potentially racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, sexist, and bigoted viewers who align themselves with right-wing politics believe that their views are elegant too?

Because if that is the case, talk about a distorted mirror.

There was no way I’d finish my 24-hour news cycle without considering the many online channels that pump out videos discussing how the left-wing media is lying to you. The Alex Jones types, whose ridiculous conspiracies' effectively harm others (see Jones’ comments on the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting), and do not seem to promote a positive political discourse. After sifting through many of his videos, I found myself only becoming further entrenched in my own viewpoints. Worse, I didn’t know from whom I should be more insulted: Fox News, a network that believes audiences are not intelligent enough to investigate their hollow remarks, or Jones, someone who is more interested in attacking viewers than learning alongside them.

Alex Jones, the host of his internet show “InfoWars” (Youtube/The Alex Jones Channel)

Living in this right-wing, Republican-esque bubble was upsetting, and I couldn’t wait to escape it. I am honestly appalled by the opinions these news outlets promote, and their carefree attitudes when it comes to solving important issues. Believe me, I wish I took comfort in that type of bliss too.

So when I watch the next Presidential debate, best believe I will have a better understanding as to why Trump does what he does. Look, I’m not going to pretend to empathize with his supporters. That just won’t happen. What has happened, however; is I gave right-wing media a shot. So if you’re reading this, I encourage you to do the same. Look into the articles written by your political opposite. In a time where countless social media sources feed us back our own bias, the least that we can do is attempt to understand each other.

Be better America, because something just isn’t right.

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“Area man makes witty comment here” // Ryerson University 2021 // Freelance writer based out of Toronto, Canada // Part-time Twitter comedian

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Nate Williams

Nate Williams

“Area man makes witty comment here” // Ryerson University 2021 // Freelance writer based out of Toronto, Canada // Part-time Twitter comedian

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