Many news coming out of the social media has been likened to an age-old publication phenomenon known as “yellow journalism.” it is the kind of news reporting that albeit not having much substance or confirmation of the veracity of the news it carries, strongly draws many readers.
Inasmuch as social media reporting has the capability to spread like wildfire across millions of readers throughout the globe, “yellow journalism” today has become more potent than it was when it first emerged during the 19th century.
It takes only a single Facebook post or Twitter tweet directed to a set of targeted audience to spread a piece of “unfounded news.” Non-discriminating readers and eager believers, in turn, takes on the baton to relay the unsubstantiated piece of news to another set of target audience.
According to American academic librarian and cultural historian Robert C. Darnton, “yellow journalism”dates back to antiquity. Yet its first widespread use was in the late 19th century; during the first newspaper war engaged in by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, through their respective news daily, The New York World and The New York Journal.
Yellow Journalism Changed the Course and Face of American Politics
No other event in history can be cited as a perfect example of how yellow journalism can fan the flames of half-truths, ludicrous lies and scandals, than the 2016 presidential elections won by Donald Trump. Yellow journalism gained more potency when circulated via social media platforms, which is how Trump’s campaign team advanced their political ads and publicity.
Despite the results of polls and mock elections that made Democrats confident of a sure-win, the political tide turned against Hilary Clinton because her campaign team and strategists put their faith in traditional TV adverts and campaign schemes. They were unmindful of the “yellow journalism” taking place in social media platforms; of the bits and pieces of nonsense spreading quickly in different social media sites, where fake news and twisted stories made Donald Trump look like King Midas.
Not stopping at making people believe he is the best in everything, Trump mocked and threw dirt at his Democratic rival, whilst calling her “Crooked Hilary.” The substantial numbers of social media followers supporting Trump, influenced non-political voters to become less interested in a political exercise filled with lies, scandals and confusion.
Some saw Pompous Trump as the lesser evil, than Crooked Hilary. Others simply shrugged and asked “Why vote?”
Yellow Journalism Kept Trump from Being Impeached Early in His Tenure
As the truth about Trump and his election-win slowly surfaced, yellow journalism kept Trump from facing impeachment early in his tenure. Trump and his White House administration continued to glorify his presidency with accomplishment that actually originated during President Obama’s term. At the same time, Trump continued to spread disinformation to either repeal or discredit the accomplishment of his predecessor/s.
Now that the 45th president of the United States is facing impeachment inquiry, Trump and his Republican minions in Congress are still using yellow journalism to counter testimonies presented as evidence against him.
Although opinion polls show that the majority of American voters favor the impeachment proceedings, the confusion wrought by yellow journalism still pervades in the political arena. Even if Trump emerges unscathed from an impeachment trial, there is no telling if voters will be wiser in exercising their right to vote in the forthcoming 2020 Presidential Election.