Media and the Election: Brief Thoughts on The Morning After

There you have it, folks.

A stillness across the country everyone predicted, but no one prepared for. After 18 months that felt like centuries, a media circus with chaos comparable to a natural disaster,  Election Day was met with surprise, anguish and shock. Watching the news last night felt like waiting for a baby to be born. A historical, nation-changing baby. For nearly seven hours America followed along with crunching numbers and predictions. After everyone’s third cup of coffee or fourth glass of wine, the winner of the 2016 election was announced in the early hours of the morning. Donald J. Trump is set to be the 45th president of the United States of America.

I do not seek to share my qualms or concerns with you about this decision. Because, honestly, you can (and you will) find that everywhere today. What I make of Trump’s election is too scrambled to share in brief. This post is meant to honor the role of media in the 2016 election. Because believe it or not, I could guess that a good 60% any election is not political. “Political” referring to the direct acknowledgement of policy and government issues. It has been said that the fourth pillar of American government is the media. Elections, and any other event, really, incorporate media in such a way that strays from the traditional.

This election in particular made media an integral part of its lifespan. Perhaps it is because social and other mass media have reached their full capacities at this time. We as a nation reach to mass media for both guidance and our mark on the world.

I’ll never forget clutching my iPhone until 3 am, streaming NBC through YouTube, waiting anxious for an announcement to be made. Beforehand I was among friends scrolling endlessly through various feeds looking for updates. I was texting, FaceTiming, snapping photos– reveling in the thick of the democratic tradition. We are now conditioned to turn to media for our answers. Which is what made this election so particularly bamboozling. Essentially, it came down to a candidate supported by the media and a candidate that the media made.

I question what will become of the role of media as Trump’s presidency begins. During the campaign, NBC dropped the Miss Universe pageant because of its ties to Trump. Before he was elected his supported presence (even through others) was shamed in the media. How will nationalism change in the media now that he will be president? With a sour and rigid divide among citizens that is deeper than ever, I ponder how media’s relationship will proceed with the government.