09:13 GMT16 June 2021
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    As US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump get ready to debate face-to-face for the first time, mainstream media in the US may have already dropped the ball.

    On Monday night, the Republican and Democratic hopefuls will take the debate stage for what everyone hopes will be an in-depth, serious discussion of the issues facing Americans.

    Or not.

    Throughout both parties’ primary races and the general election, the mainstream media in the US has proven itself woefully ill-equipped to guide a civilized discourse. With only hours to go before the first debate in the general elections, US cable news outlets are already highlighting the low standards to which they hold both presidential hopefuls.

    This narrow-minded approach to the "horse-race" aspect of covering campaigns was also highlighted in the US mainstream media’s response to last week’s bombing in New York City, which left 31 people injured.

    Georgetown University Journalism Professor Christopher Chambers pointed out that this lack of real substance works in favor of cable networks.

    "It generates a false debate, enables engagement of silly pundits rather than actually dealing in fact and discourse, [and] feeds the emotional infotainment beast," he told Sputnik.

    "Trump alone creates a visceral conflict circus [and] thus creates eyeballs (ratings); match him with Clinton and you have a circus and ratings for the ages! Godzilla vs. Rodan. Whether both or just one is a kaiju monster isn’t important. The matchup is."

    While one can hold out hope that the moderators will perform admirably and ensure that both candidates discuss substantive policy, this seems unlikely.

    "The mainstream wants them to attack each other, not merely address each other, as past moderators have wanted candidates to do," Chambers says.

    "Here the only time calm will serve the hype beast is if Trump turns the tables and looks immediately like he’s a statesman, ignoring opportunities to act crazy or spout lies. That becomes the point pundits will seize on, and we will have the 'who looks presidential' fake issue to chew on."

    "It is sad we have to talk about such things," he adds, "but this is how media coverage in America has degenerated."

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    Tags:
    mainstream media, 2016 election, DNC, GOP, Christopher Chambers, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, US
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