Public opinion about a person is usually based on the image created by the media. Politics, celebrities, famous people, and anyone else caught by the lens of a camera become dependent on the information produced by the journalists of all kinds. Media has powerful tools to shape public opinion: television, radio, the internet, and now social networks. Sometimes, a small tweet or a photo can change the image of a public person drastically.
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It should be noted that various categories of public people depend on the media’s efforts differently. Thus, for example, celebrities may have as positive as well as a negative image, and information provided by the media will not influence their popularity in a negative way.
The mentioning of a celebrity in the media is a positive factor. Politics, on the other hand, greatly depends on public opinion, and the image politicians have is very sensitive to various negative influences the media can organize. Considering the available materials, the paper is aimed at exploring the essence of the media and its effect on politics, and providing the analysis of the portraying Hillary Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky by the media.
Background on How the Media Affects Politics
Modern media have numerous channels to influence public opinion, but social networks became the most convenient channel, among others. The concept of social networks is a relatively new one, having appeared not long ago, but for many people, it occupies a significant place in their lives.
However, social networks only facilitate communications between people. Nevertheless, the convenience of communication offered by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others makes them so popular that their phenomenon influences people’s lives deeper than one might think.1 Additionally, social networks change the way people receive information about everything they might think of.
Mass media is a serious player in the process of shaping public opinion on such issues as politics, social life, and so on. It influences all aspects of life in any society on this planet. However, the beginning of the development of electronic means of communication was practically unnoticed by those responsible for the development of media. They simply could not comprehend the idea that it would only take a few decades for the situation with electronic media to change so drastically.
Currently, information technology enables people to have new channels through which they receive information coming from multiple independent sources. It influences all areas of human life, including advertising, print mass media, all areas related to public life, and politics.2
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This situation affects people who are more used to the technologies of the past and those who work in advertising and media. It also influences those who are at the forefront of public life and opinion – politicians and simply public people. Therefore, anyone connected with media is influenced by information technology.3 The appearance of online journalists caused frustration of those representatives of this profession who used to be famous for their work in the traditional media – newspapers, and radio. Now, they have to share the spotlight with the online journalists who create the news and disseminate it on the go, delivering it to the readers simultaneously. The latest trends in journalism can explain this situation.
When major sources of information were TV and printed media, and people received information from them, control over the content of this information was easy. Journalists presented their opinion on some issue or news, and people were subjected to this opinion regardless of the fact whether there was some bias in it or not. The comprehensive and objective picture covering the state of things was unavailable to people because of the narrowness of the scope of the journalists’ opinion.4
Therefore, this situation was favorable for the politicians as they could influence their electorate’s opinion by appealing to the most famous and respected journalists. Thus, they could be on the side of some politician and promote his agenda as well as his party’s one. Politicians faced no significant challenges since they achieved the necessary effect by using mass media.
The press held public and famous people as hostages since they depended on it and its power to make them relevant or keep people’s interest to them. For this, sensations and scandals were the best options. The press could destroy someone’s career or, on the contrary, start it, which depended on the public’s reaction to the information presented by the mass media. As can be seen, there was not much to choose from in terms of information channels. Nowadays, the situation is completely different.
If there is a need to find information about something or someone, one can use a search engine and start looking for this information.5 no might not find what he/she looks for, but unlike in the past, people can have the chance to receive information from various sources and have different opinions on some issues.
For modern people, there is no need to read newspapers, listen to the radio, or watch TV news to find out what happens in the world. The Internet can offer the most current and unaltered information. Naturally, such a situation cannot be welcomed by the people who make their living by selling their opinion for others to read. The social media that nobody can influence is a threat to the politicians who need to control and influence everything.6 To understand this, one needs to know the situation in the modern world.
Social networks redefined the concepts of relations and friendship. The popularity of Facebook, for instance, can be explained by the fact that people can have everything they need in one place. Previously, people could share their photos, music, and videos on various websites. They chatted and communicated with others via message boards and chatrooms. Online communities for people with similar interests gathered them and allowed them to make new friends. However, Facebook allowed having all this in one place and at the same time.
In addition to the centralization of services, social media has positive sides such as relative independence from the influence exerted by politicians or businesses, anonymity and easy access, and so on.7 Nowadays, people are able to get access to the Internet almost anywhere in the world, which allows users to socialize with the entire world. Thus, the opportunity to express one’s ideas and thoughts without being censored and the chance to deliver information anywhere in the world are the main benefits that social media can offer to people.
Politics is affected by the media since it gives people democracy during elections and highlights issues when they arise among politicians. Media allows people to have a free and fair election because they can freely vote for the person to represent them politically.8 Radio and television, as the most common types of media, offer some educative information about the policies to be followed in the voting and election processes. The media gives adequate information on the participating parties and acts as a watchdog during democratic elections. It safeguards transparency in the process, accountability, and human rights, which instills good governance in society.9
Citizens have the privilege to learn about the views and ideas of certain politicians by receiving this from the internet and television, which stimulates the choices during the elections through various campaigns.10 They have a platform to share political information, debate, discuss issues affecting them politically, like it, and connect with others.
A Brief Summary of the Scandal
The scandal involving Monika Lewinsky in 1998 was caused by her affair with President Bill Clinton having an intern practice in the White House. Lewinsky was employed by the White House Office after her presence in the White House during the first term of Clinton. She was an intern back then. During her work at the White House, Lewinsky got involved in a relationship with the President.11
That relationship had a personal nature. Later, she told about the situation of such kind to her friend, Linda Tripp. She worked at Defense Department and managed to record the telephone communication between Clinton and Lewinsky. When the affair became public, Clinton’s wife Hillary forgave him over the affair as he had a rough time, having lost his mother, father, and Vince Foster, their friend.12 She was Clinton’s confidant and a supporter during the difficult times in their lives.
Hillary’s Role in 1998 Monica Lewinsky Scandal
Such media outlets as Washington CNN, Washington Free Beacon, and websites such as Political Ticker recorded Hillary Clinton as a heartbroken and dumbfounded woman who was full of anger her husband’s disclosure of his relationship with Monika Lewinsky. Hillary yelled at her husband over his infidelity, and she blamed Monica Lewinsky for having a sexual affair with him.13 Hillary even gave a nickname to Monika Lewinsky, calling her “narcissistic loony toon.” Moreover, she blamed herself for not being emotionally sensitive and eventually, she forgave him. On the other hand, Monica Lewinsky accused Hillary Clinton of putting the blame on women instead of her husband over the affair.14
The media presented Hillary’s reaction as the desire to keep her hands clean. She was portrayed as a woman that just wanted to forget about this situation and keep on living with husband. Her accusations towards Lewinsky only supported such an image of Hillary in press.15 She was abused by the situation, and she had rather long-time argument with Bill, but eventually, Hillary supported the President and forgave him, disregarding the effect the scandal had on her.
Hillary’s Reaction and Media’s Response
Hillary supported her husband, and she was there for him to downplay the relationship between him and Lewinsky. She demonstrated that Clinton and Lewinsky’s relationship had no future or power and that their sexual act was just a fling. The media spread the news of the affair internationally and attracted the attention of the entire world.16 Journalists had numerous interviews with Hillary Clinton to find out about her feelings on the issue.
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For example, an interview with Blair revealed that Hillary was jolly and sound in her emotions and reactions. She did not cover the reaction to the situation even to the press: “Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him,” … “What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?”17 The media was skeptical about her reaction. The coverage of the scandal was focused on the lies of Bill and a negative attitude to the affair as Clinton could have used his position to harass Lewinsky and make her get involved in the relationship.18
His confession was perceived as an awkward attempt to fix the situation and indirectly ask for Hillary for forgiveness. Additionally, Clinton wanted to improve his image after the scandal, so his redemption had helped Hillary to regain the image of a good wife whose feelings had been abused so much.
Hillary’s Public Opinion after the Scandal
The Lewinsky scandal led to the negative public opinion about Hillary Clinton. The public’s anger turned into hatred and disdain towards Hillary.19 However, many people, especially women appreciated the fact that Hillary had stood by her husband when he needed it.
The press was not so kind to her first, and it presented Hillary as the wife of the dishonest man who had refused to recognize the affair first and then had to ask for forgiveness of the whole nation. However, after Clinton’s confession, Hillary became a wise and strong woman, considering the media response. Eventually, the scandal was presented as the accidental weakness of the depressed man. The position of Hillary and her support turned out to be the desire to save the relationship and get through the hard times side-by-side.
Hillary’s Modern Campaign
The story of Monika Lewinsky is a pure speculation against Clinton’s campaign. The re-emergence of Miss Lewinsky has an unwelcome shadow on Clinton’s bid to become the US president.20 As a result, the scandal returns the public focus to Bill Clinton’s past, which is what Hillary’s political opponents need to derail her potentiality to bid for the presidency. For instance, a Republican senator, Rand Paul, who also had a presidential bid, called Bill Clinton a sexual predator and demanded that Democrats kept their distance from him.
Hillary in this race is presented not as Clinton’s abused wife but as a strong politic, willing to win it, disregarding any scandals in the past. The re-appearance of Monika Lewinsky in the news is not a coincidence, of course, since Clinton’s name has strong associations with Lewinsky and the relevant scandal in the public’s mind. It is the effort of some political powers to diminish the professional qualities of Hillary Clinton as a politician and make her a vulnerable woman again in the eyes of her electorate.
Summing, the paper explored the essence of the media and its effect on politics and provided the analysis of the portraying Hillary Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky by the media. The media is capable of making a scandal bigger or diverting attention from some burning news in the case of necessity. Social networks and the modern means of communication make it harder to achieve these days. However, it is necessary to understand that information online cannot be considered as unbiased or free from any influence. People have the opportunity to obtain information from diverse and rather independent channels.
It is a very positive outcome of the development of the relevant technologies. On the other hand, if an electronic channel is under the control of some political or business power, information can only look as trustworthy and independent. Moreover, people may get the false feeling of being in control over the information they consume, which is not so.
The situation with the Monica Lewinsky scandal is the example of how the public opinion can be shaped, using the human desire to see famous people in awkward and unusual situations. The power of media was shown in the ability to present the First Lady as a woman that can forgive her husband in the situation when he publically confesses in adultery. Hillary Clinton went through difficult times when the scandal came to the surface, but now she is the powerful and influential politician, the next potential President of the United States.
It should be noted that modern media depends on politics and business more than ever before, so it is appropriate to question information people get from the newspapers, TV shows, analysists, and online channels. Otherwise, there is a big chance to be deceived by interested parties that control the media.
Cary, Mary. “5 Ways New Media are Changing Politics.” U.S. News and World Report LP, 2016. Web.
Cillizza, Chis. “How Monica Lewinsky Changed Politics.” The Washington Post, 2014. Web.
Engel, Pamela. “How Hillary Clinton Dealt with the Monica Lewinsky Scandal When She was in the White House.” Business Insider, 2015. Web.
Johanson, Alpern, Nellika Little, Andy Williamson, Harvey Bronwen., Ann Cooper, and Halakhe Bdullahi. “Media and Elections, 3rd edition.” ACE project, 2012. Web.
Journeyman Pictures. The Real Story behind the Clinton Scandals. YouTube, 2011. Web.
Merica, Dan. “Documents Reveal Hillary Clinton’s Private Reaction to Her Husband is Cheating Scandal with Monica Lewinsky.” Political Ticker, 2014. Web.
Miller, Arthur. “Sex, Politics, and Public Opinion: What Political Scientists Really Learned from the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal.” Political Science & Politics, 1999, 721-729.
Sanchez, Raf. “Monica Lewinsky: Hillary Clinton ‘Blamed the Woman’ for Bill Clinton’s Affair.” Telegraph, 2014. Web.
- Mary Cary, “5 Ways New Media are Changing Politics.” U.S. News and World Report LP, 2016. Web.
- Cary, “5 Ways New Media are Changing Politics.” Web.
- Alpern Johanson et al., “Media and Elections, 3rd edition.” The ACE project, 2012. Web.
- Johanson et al., “Media and Elections, 3rd edition.”
- Johanson et al. “Media and Elections, 3rd edition.”
- Cary, “5 Ways New Media are Changing Politics.”
- Journeyman Pictures. The Real Story behind the Clinton Scandals. YouTube, 2011. Web.
- Dan Merica, “Documents Reveal Hillary Clinton’s Private Reaction to Her Husband is Cheating Scandal with Monica Lewinsky.” Political Ticker, 2014. Web.
- Pamela Engel, “How Hillary Clinton Dealt with the Monica Lewinsky Scandal When She was in the White House.” Business Insider, 2015. Web.
- Raf Sanchez, “Monica Lewinsky: Hillary Clinton ‘Blamed the Woman’ for Bill Clinton’s Affair.” Telegraph, 2014. Web.
- Merica, “Documents Reveal Hillary Clinton’s Private Reaction.”
- Chis Cillizza, “How Monica Lewinsky Changed Politics.” The Washington Post, 2014. Web.
- Merica, “Documents Reveal Hillary Clinton’s Private Reaction.”
- Sanchez, “Monica Lewinsky.”