Corporate Media Maintaining the Citizens United Status Quo

by Vins
Published: Updated:

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, setting the precedent that the first amendment prohibited government regulation of independent political expenditure, granting individuals and corporations unlimited private election spending. The court case has significantly increased the amount of money spent on campaigns, allowing a few individuals to fund a single candidate and shape an election. In November 2015, a Bloomberg Politics national poll found, “78 percent (of Americans)… said the Citizens United ruling should be overturned, compared with 17 percent who called it a good decision.” Campaign finance reform has been a central topic to the 2016 presidential election, with it being a focus of Bernie Sanders’ campaign. With an issue rarely garnering such overwhelming support, the ruling’s reform should be a popular position among the “front runners” in the 2016 election, yet the media has censored the bipartisan consensus among Americans that Citizens United should be overturned.

Media Matters reported in October 2015 that, “The Citizens United ruling has allowed a few wealthy families (200) to donate “nearly 60 percent” of all the money spent by super PACs since the 2010 decision.” The enormous amount of money spent on campaigns has lead to a situation where elections are now an extremely profitable event, suppressing the candidates and their constituency, and benefitting the donors and corporations controlling the media. Citizens United allows individuals to support candidates financially through an election. These individuals who donate large sums of money, expect a return on their investment in the forms of favorable legislation. Their financial support pressures politicians to create legislation for the individual that sustained their campaign, instead of legislation that benefits the majority. Politicians are financially persuaded to created legislation for a few individuals, creating a situation where environmental, social, and economic concerns of the majority are trounced in favor of corporate profits. The influx of money into elections has created a setting where corporate media has more to gain by censoring negative opinions of Citizens United; then to report the truth regarding its effects, its overwhelmingly bipartisan negative perception, and any candidate who are in favor of the decisions reversal.

Media Matters also reported in October 2015 that, “ABC World News Tonight, CBS’ Evening News, NBC’s Nightly Newstand the PBS NewsHour — aired no coverage of the Bloomberg poll between between September 28 and October 2. The ABC, FOX and NBC October 4 Sunday shows also failed to report on the poll’s results.” Main stream news outlets have failed to report on the Bloomberg pool showing that most Americans want Citizens United overturned. The influx of money legally now spent on election, catalyzes more money being spent on advertising revenue, which directly produce greater profits for the corporate media. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the corporate news has censored and biased reporting on the Citizens United ruling, or any political candidate running on campaign finance reform. The Citizens United case has created a precedent were it is in corporate medias financial interests to censor any news or candidate that is in favor of reform to retains the current status quo.

Sources:

Murphy, Makenzie. “Major Broadcast News Networks Ignore Poll Showing 78 Percent Of Americans Want Citizens United Overturned.” Media Matters for America. October 06, 2015. Accessed March 30, 2016. www.mediamatters.org/research/2015/10/06/major-broadcast-news-networks-ignore-poll-showi/205989.

Stohr, Greg. “Bloomberg Poll: Americans Want Supreme Court to Turn Off Political Spending Spigot.” Bloomberg.com. December 28, 2015. Accessed March 30, 2016. www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-09-28/bloomberg-poll-americans-want-supreme-court-to-turn-off-political-spending-spigot.

Hartmann, Thom. “Why Corporate Media Won’t Cover Citizens United.” Truthout. October 07, 2015. Accessed March 31, 2016. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/33153-why-media-won-t-cover-citizens-united.

Student Researcher: Ezra Mount-Finette (University of Vermont)

Faculty Evaluator:  Rob Williams (University of Vermont)