Nolan Higdon (NolanHigdonProjectCensored@Gmail.com) with Mickey Huff (firstname.lastname@example.org), and student researchers Hanna Begnell, Taylor Bledsoe, Aimee Casey, Alexandra Castillo, Daniel Cerezo, Daniel Cervantez, Lauren Freeman, Mitchell Graham, Josh Gorski, Kyle Hunt, Jaspreet Kang, Justin Lascano, Janay McCullough, Brandy Miceli, George Petrucci, Sarah Powell, Jared Rodda, Edwin Sevilla, Chandler Saul, Sebastian Trucios, Jacob Trutanich, Mark Yolangco; these students are from California State University East Bay, California State University Maritime Academy, Diablo Valley College, Las Positas College, and San Francisco State University.
(NOTE: This essay refers to and builds upon the research in “The Corporate Media’s War on Reality: Faux Elections and the Facade of DeMockracy,” which was the Junk Food News and News Abuse chapter in the book Censored 2017)
But in terms of [a Presidential] endorsement now, I think withholding an endorsement is a decision that was come to collectively. One, there are folks who are in the streets, who are in the presence of municipal leaders, who are asking very clear things. You know, stop—we want the death of black people by police officers, blue-on-black violence, to stop. These are material realities. We want long-standing, entrenched forms of over-policing and criminalization to end. And these are not rhetorical flourishings, –Darnell Moore of the New York chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM), to host Juan Gonzalez on DemocracyNow!
Darnell Moore’s statement, in the midst of the presidential election, mirrored the feelings and concerns of the Millennial Generation that critical issues of social justice are not being substantively addressed by the leading presidential candidates nor by the corporate press.
A development stemming from the 2016 US Presidential Election is the treatment of Millennials (and their role in the electorate) by both the Democratic and Republican Parties as well as the corporate press. Around the world, especially in the US, the Millennial Generation is combating the 40-year legacy of neoliberalism. Neoliberal governments champion dismantling the social safety net through pay to play meritocracy, deregulation, privatization, and lowering taxes. Millennials have responded to the effects of neoliberal policies with movements such as Democracy Spring, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQI Rights, Fight for 15, Bring Back Our Girls, Occupy, Environmental Movement, DREAMers, and more. Much of this neophyte organizing and vision aligned with US Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, and, in fact, Sanders won over 60 percent of votes from those under the age of 30, which was more than Clinton and Trump combined. In some states, as much as 80 percent of the Millennial vote went to Sanders.
During the election cycle, Millennial led social justice movements were marginalized and ostracized while Millennials were berated for their opposition to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The New York Times reported that “younger voters are shunning the two major political parties on a scale not seen since Ross Perot’s third-party bid for the presidency in 1992…a striking swing in public opinion that is slicing into Hillary Clinton’s thin margin for error.” It is ironic that the older generation has the audacity to lecture Millennials on how to vote and participate in the public sphere. After all it is the older generations who are responsible for the biggest recession since The Great Depression, the first two wars in US history to pass Congress without a plan to pay for them, the dismantling of the Middle Class and affordable college and health care, and the gutting of protections for women, people of color, the working class and other marginalized communities. More importantly a reductionist view of Millennials ignores that Millennials did organize, vote, and participate in the political process, most famously for the candidacy of Sanders, only to have their efforts undermined by the collusion of the Democratic Party and the corporate press.
The 2016 US Presidential Election is the last election where the Baby Boomer Generation will comprise the largest proportion of eligible voters. Millennials have been pressured to vote for Clinton because not voting or voting for a third party candidate is tantamount to a vote for Trump. In fact, numerous Republican newspapers, politicians, commentators, and pundits have also touted this message to Millennials. It is laughable that this rudimentary understanding of civics comes from the generation that allowed the Republican Party of Eisenhower to become the party of Trump and the New Deal coalition of the Democratic Party to become the technocratic corporatist Clinton party. With their past actions and in-actions causing US institutions and culture to hang in the balance, the older generation calls upon Millennials, those cleaning up the mess of the previous generations’ failures, to bail them out of their Orwellian nightmare with four more years of neoliberal politics.
This essay builds upon the research methods of the veteran media research organization Project Censored. It argues that during the 2016 US Presidential Election, the corporate media cultivated a false consciousness among voters and siphoned off coverage of the social justice issues that are important to the Millennial Generation.
US Presidential Election Coverage 2016: Junk Food News and News Abuse as Propaganda
In 2016, batches of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails were released by the whistleblower and free press organization WikiLeaks. The emails detailed how the corporate media and DNC colluded to undermine Sanders’ bid for the Democratic party presidential nomination.
When coupled with “The Corporate Media’s War on Reality: Faux Elections and the Facade of DeMockracy,” the revelations from the leaked DNC emails illuminated 3 key points:
- The corporate press used a barrage of Junk Food News that benefited and boosted Donald Trump’s candidacy for president.
- The corporate media’s News Abuse regarding the DNC strategy to marginalize and undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign for presidential nomination.
- The corporate press only offered effective criticisms of Donald Trump once Hillary Clinton secured the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party.
In fact, Harvard’s Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Thomas Patterson, in conjunction with the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, drew many of the same conclusions as Project Censored’s research regarding how the corporate media and two major political parties in the US eventually helped influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential primary elections. To begin, a brief history and review of the research methods utilized here, along with relevant examples, is in order.
Rubric for a Case Study: A Brief History of Junk Food News and News Abuse Concepts
In 1976, professor Carl Jensen of Sonoma State University founded a media research endeavor he called Project Censored. The Project started once Jensen went back and examined the media coverage of Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign noting that was held to little scrutiny regarding Watergate developments. While the mass media outlets tended to ignore the issue, many in the so-called alternative or independent press continued to note Nixon’s involvement in these events that eventually lead to his resignation.
Once realizing that the free press in the US had failed the American public on such a large scale, Jensen sought to ameliorate the societal problem of citizens receiving information from a propagandistic and inaccurate corporate media system. He began having his students compare corporate and independent news coverage every semester to document what was and was not being covered by corporate media. The most significant independent news stories that were ignored by the corporate press were published in an annual list distributed for public consumption. Forty years later, the endeavor Jensen started continues with scores of professors, and hundreds of students on some twenty campuses across the US.
This Project was not without criticism. Some journalists and editors in the corporate media took issue with Jensen, arguing that the stories were not “censored” as he claimed, but due to time and space constraints could not be published, a decision they defended as part of “news judgment.” Jensen researched the claim, seeing it as a fair concern, but concluded that the corporate media often covered trivial and sensational issues at the expense of newsworthy stories. He called such coverage Junk Food News, or Twinkies for the brain, and added an annual list of the corporate media’s most trivial, sensational, and mundane stories to Project Censored’s annual publications.
When Jensen retired, sociology professor Peter Phillips became the director of the Project. Phillips was convinced that the corporate media peddled propaganda that misinformed and misguided the public to adopt positions against their own interests. Like Jensen, Phillips had his students investigate how mass media disseminate inaccurate stories that function as a form of propaganda. They began to document such instances and called them News Abuse, which refers to the corporate media stories that were not trivial, but rather quite newsworthy, though they were presented in a slanted or partial manner, which distorted important facts or consequences of a news story.
This article returns to a subject that was the genesis of Jensen’s idea for the Project: the relationship between media and presidential elections. This study examines the relationship between corporate media news coverage and their impacts on issues of social justice, equity, and diversity. More specifically, this article examines Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump’s twenty-four-hour cycle of Junk Food News. His outlandish behavior has been covered at the expense of far more newsworthy stories—not to mention other candidates, including third parties. Also, using the concept of News Abuse, it analyzes how the corporate press peddles, misrepresents, and/or ignores stories of potential state crimes against democracy, social justice, and human rights, as well as racism, sexism, and Islamophobia, in the context of the presidential election, all while declaring Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party presidential nominee.
Junk Food News and the US Election: A Brief Overview
Earlier this year, in the wake of the Panama Papers, people in countries around the world sought to remove leaders from power for their knowledge of and/or participation in hiding offshore monies to avoid taxation. Meanwhile, in the US, Americans were immersed in a vapid celebrity-worshipping culture, one that has invaded nearly every facet of life—even infecting the democratic process and elections. Even as the two leading corporate party candidates for presidential nomination were both under legal clouds of potential investigations, looming indictments, and other controversies, corporate media focused more on bread and circus acts, serving up a full menu of Junk Food News and News Abuse in lieu of real, hard-hitting election year journalism. A couple notable examples include a Fox News panel that debated if mathematics should be required in schools and an NBC reporter who touted the network’s ethics before storming into the home of murder suspects in San Bernardino.
Trivial stories and celebrity demagoguery were mainstays of the 2016 presidential primary season. While Americans stayed glued to the corporate media’s embarrassing exercise in entertainment deceitfully presented as democracy, the independent press published numerous newsworthy stories. For one key example, consider how the corporate media focused on election gossip and some of the aforementioned non-issues while diminishing their coverage of police violence. The independent press, however, continued to cover police killings of unarmed people of color that terrorize communities around the country. Comparably, while the corporate media argued that democracy depends on choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the independent press covered real displays of civic action, like the Democracy Spring, a protest movement against the influence of money in politics. For example, in spring of 2016, seven hundred people were arrested in Washington, DC as part of these protests, which received little-to-no corporate media coverage.
Donald Trump first appeared in the Junk Food News section of Project Censored in the 1990 story “The Marital Woes of Donald and Ivana Trump.” Few would have predicted that 25 years later, he would still be in the headlines, and while in different context, still in some of the same sensational ways. In the summer of 2015, the corporate media began to notice the profitable potential of the reality television star’s presidential campaign. Consumers were captivated by Trump’s outrageous behavior. In fact, Les Moonves, chairman of the board, president, and CEO of CBS, admitted that Trump coverage led to increased profits when he noted, “I’ve never seen anything like this, and this [is] going to be a very good year for us . . . Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going . . . [I]t may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” In fact, former CBS anchorman Dan Rather warned that Trump and the media act as business partners. The corporate media’s obsession with The Donald helped change the US democratic process to an unholy hybrid of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and American Idol. In fact, 75 percent of Americans agreed that the corporate media covered Trump too often.
Viewers had reason to be upset with the corporate media coverage. On the road to presumptive party nomination at the convention, Trump, more than any candidate from either major corporate party, dominated the election coverage. In fact, by spring, Trump had received nearly triple the coverage of Hillary Clinton. That equates to $2 billion in free coverage for Trump. For example, in a single twenty-four-hour news cycle, a story about or ad for Trump ran sixty times on Fox, MSNBC, and CNN at no cost to Trump. In fact, MSNBC was so overjoyed to interview Trump on his private jet that they played the interview seventy-nine times over a three day period. This is highly questionable journalism, considering that studies have shown that the more a candidate is covered, the higher they rise in the polls.
In comparison to Trump, the Sanders campaign (running in the primaries as a Democrat) received one-twenty-third of the amount of media coverage. In actual airtime on ABC News, Trump’s campaign received eighty-one times more airtime than Sanders. Perhaps one of the most glaring examples of this media snub would be from March 2016, when Fox, CNN, and MSNBC decided to cover every candidate’s primary election speech except for the one from Sanders. Instead of covering Sanders’s speech, they had a camera on an empty podium waiting for Trump to arrive and give his speech. However, curiously, earlier in the month, there was no shortage of corporate media coverage of Sanders—so long as that coverage was negative. In one egregious example, the Washington Post ran sixteen hit pieces on Sanders’s campaign in as many hours between March 6 and 7, which just so happened to be on the cusp of an important Democratic candidate debate in Flint, Michigan.
This was not the first time the Post targeted Sanders, either. One wonders what relationship the owner of the Washington Post, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, might have with Clinton, as in her final year as Secretary of State, Bezos’s company received a $16.5 million contract from the US State Department. Further, Amazon received a ten-year $600 million contract from several intelligence agencies, including the CIA, an organization which Sanders stated he wanted to abolish in 1974 and which he still has serious issues with at present. Sanders’s analysis and information was literally trumped by the US corporate deep state media. As Les Moonves of CBS said, “Bring it on, Donald. Keep going…”
News Abuse as Propaganda
And I think the American people are going to have to say to NBC and ABC and CBS and CNN, ‘You know what, forget the political gossip. Politics is not a soap opera. Talk about the real damn issues facing this country.’ –Bernie Sanders to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC
During the 2016 election cycle, the corporate media was not just peddling stories disguised as journalism, but propaganda disguised as news. The corporate media inserted themselves into stories just like the camerawoman who tripped escaping refugees from Syria. They inundated viewers with a barrage of outdated and inaccurate adages, such as “the parties will have to listen to the people” and “this is an historic election” to distract from the corporate hijacking of the democratic process. In fact, the corporate media censored the pervasive corporate influence on the democratic process, from the role of so-called dark money to the news media itself. For example, MSNBC and CNN edited out several lines from a video where Sanders attacked the corporate media for failing to fulfill its role in reporting all-important issues in the election, including the issue of corporate media biases.
The corporate media’s refusal to delineate between fact and opinion, slant and bias, perspective and falsehood, allowed the election coverage to co-opt serious issues of equity and social justice including racial and gender prejudice, immigration, climate change, human rights, sexuality, and civil liberties. Furthermore, it allowed for political falsehoods to permeate the corporate media echo chamber, such as Rubio’s claim that welders have a higher income than those who major in philosophy, or Trump’s claims that he predicted 9/11, Mexico was sending rapists to the US, Obama was taking 200,000 Syrian refugees, a table full of steaks, water, and wine prove he is a successful business man, and he helped move a Ford Motor plant from Mexico to Ohio.
Millennials and social media played a major role in the presidential primary, as they have since 2008. A GOP pollster argued that Millennials are terrifyingly liberal. In fact, by mid-March 2016, Sanders had received 1.5 million Millennials votes; that is more than Clinton and Trump combined. Still, the corporate media worked to spread cynicism among Millennials. For instance, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said that Millennials should not waste their time supporting Sanders when the race is already “rigged” for Clinton. This cynicism ignores several prominent Millennial led victories, such as when Maine became the first state to abolish superdelegates.
Rather than take Millennials’ acrimony seriously, the Clinton campaign went on the defensive. Former president Bill Clinton ignored how his policies contributed to the present climate of discontent among Millennials, and instead blamed them for their current state of affairs. He argued that, had they voted to prevent a Republican Congress in 2010, there would not be so many problems facing the nation. Similarly, in the digital age, it is not only television that spreads apathy and support for a corporate candidate, but corporate-run social media. For example, a Clinton super PAC and lobbyist group wrote a pro-Clinton op-ed for Atlanta, Georgia, Mayor Kasim Reed, paying handsomely to spread the op-ed across the Internet. The article offered few facts in denouncing Sanders. In a similar case, a Clinton super PAC, Correct The Record, is “pledging to spend $1 million to ‘push back against’ users on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram” who criticize Clinton.
The corporate media’s 2015–16 election coverage was a stunning example of News Abuse in action. Since Dr. Phillips coined the term, the forms and tools that shape America’s News Abuse have changed, but the propaganda and deceit remain constant. Before the primary season even began, the corporate media were touting the narrative that Clinton was the front-runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. They made this claim despite the fact that, since late 2015, Bernie Sanders led in numerous national polls over every Republican by more points than Clinton. The corporate media narrative that Clinton was the front runner became self-fulfilling after their coverage included misleading delegate counts, slanted analysis, a redefining of progressivism, censorship of a corrupted party committing state crimes against democracy, and a premature declaration of her victory before the primary was over and the convention even held. This is the result of a codependency Clinton and the corporate media seem to have fostered with one another.
Impact of News Abuse on Democracy: Cold War Propaganda Redux
As the primaries dragged on and party conventions approached, WikiLeaks released a bulk of emails belonging to the DNC. This was followed by a barrage of email leaks in October of 2016. The emails documented the inner-workings of the DNC, including how top party officials had worked with the corporate press to undermine Sanders’ bid for the Democratic nomination. The emails revealed that the DNC communications director worked with the press to disseminate negative news stories about Sanders and that the DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Shultz proclaimed Clinton to be the “presumptive nominee.” The WikiLeaks emails also included information detailing how the DNC dismissed news media interview requests for Sanders supporters whom they pejoratively called “Bernie Bros,” toiled to elevate Trump’s candidacy, replaced Wasserman Shultz with Clinton’s anti-Sanders mole in the DNC: Donna Brazile, worked with MSNBC to manage their coverage of Clinton, collaborated on the general election with Clinton at least two months before she was declared the victor, provided strong evidence that the DNC planted pro-Clinton spies in the Sanders’ campaign, and worked with Politico reporters to edit pro-Clinton news stories. The email revelations were quickly censored by the social media outlet Twitter, which temporarily blocked users’ access to the leaked emails. The corporate press and the DNC performed damage control over the email revelations by spouting Cold War era propaganda and unsubstantiated tropes about third parties.
There are major overlaps between Clinton supporters and the corporate press. Numerous pundits in the corporate media were introduced as neutral commentators, but they were on the payroll of the Clinton campaign. Examples include Stephanie Cutter of the communications group Precision Strategies who has appeared on ABC, CNN, and NBC, and Maria Cardona of the lobbying group Dewey Square Group who appeared on CNN. In fact, many members of the corporate press, including those falsely described as ‘anti-Clinton,’ consistently make financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation. When leaked emails showed a cozy relationship between the press and former Secretary of State, the DNC and corporate media resorted to News Abuse tactics. They distorted the leaks and distracted media consumers by attributing the leaked emails to Russia. They claimed that Russia was trying to tamper with the election rather than direct attention toward the DNC and corporate media for colluding to rig the election.
As public anger raged over the emails, the corporate press and the Clinton campaign went on the defensive. In an effort to distract from the email revelations, the corporate press fabricated a story that voters should ignore the content of the emails because they originated from Russian hackers.  However, intelligence officials have stated they have not drawn any conclusion on who is behind the hacking of the DNC emails. Nonetheless, with headlines such as “How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets” and “Putin ‘Treating American Democracy With The Same Respect He Accords His Own,” the DNC and corporate media repeatedly made the claim that Russia should be held accountable for the leak regardless of the lack of concrete evidence.
In the aftermath of the email leak, the corporate press and the DNC sought to legitimize Clinton’s candidacy by discouraging angry Sanders’ supporters from choosing third party candidates. After the email fallout, the pro-Clinton corporate media tried to dissuade voters angered over Sanders’ treatment, from choosing a third party candidate. Numerous corporate media pundits and DNC operatives on MSNBC, Slate, New Republic, Huffington Post, and other outlets continued to make the case that a vote for either of the third party candidates, Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party or Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, was a vote for Trump. This narrow understanding of democracy was most visible in the millions of tweets that included #GirlIGuessImWithHer which was used by voters who were not big supporters of Clinton but believed that by not voting or voting for someone other than her would lead to a Trump presidency. They even falsely claimed that those who voted for Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election had cost the DNC the election. However, no hard evidence exists that Nader was the reason Democratic Party candidate Al Gore lost the 2000 Presidential Election. In fact, if anything it appears that the establishment liberals who told voters to accept Gore’s loss may be responsible because they practiced apathy instead of protest and action in the face of obvious election fraud in Florida. Interestingly, many of those same establishment liberals were asking Millennials to accept Clinton’s nomination and ignore clear evidence that the system was rigged against Sanders.
The corporate press and DNC lambasted and mocked individuals who pointed out how they had colluded to undermine the democratic system. In the summer of 2016, the independent election analysis coalition Election Justice USA, a non-partisan team of attorneys, statisticians, journalists, and activists released a report titled, “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries.” The report found that Sanders’ campaign may have lost up to 184 delegates because of tampering with voters’ signatures, computer hacking, reduced polling stations, targeting the No Party Preference Voters in California, voter registration tampering, voter purges, incongruent numbers between voters and votes in large Sanders’ leaning districts, and hacked voting machines.
However, the corporate press vilified and mocked individuals who protested election fraud. For example, at the Democratic National Convention, comedian Sarah Silverman told booing Sanders’ supporters they were being ridiculous for not respecting the DNC process by recognizing Clinton as the nominee. No evidence exists that Silverman made the same statement to the DNC who were proven in the leaked emails to have disrespected the DNC process by seeking to rig the primary election against a candidate. Immediately after Silverman’s comments, MSNBC’s Eugene Robinson, Chris Mathews, Nicole Wallace, and Rachael Maddow as well as Fox News’ Howard Kurtz lauded Silverman calling the protesters “ridiculous.”  It is telling that the corporate media found those who challenge election fraud and rigged elections to be “ridiculous,” but not the pundits and critics who defend the hijacking of democracy. Interestingly enough, even establishment Clinton supporters like Senator Harry Reid admitted the primary was rigged against Sanders. 
Since 2015, the corporate media has acted to coronate Clinton as the Democratic Presidential Nominee. Numerous studies have concluded that Trump and Clinton were the most disliked nominees in history. In fact, every nominee dating back to the 1980 US presidential election had a higher favorability among voters than either of the candidates. This further underscored the delirious impact of the corporate press and its ability to create false consciousness among voters. How else could US voters have been faced with a choice between two candidates with a lower favorability rating than Mitt Romney and Michael Dukakis? Throughout the summer of 2016, the corporate press pointed to the vote count favoring Clinton as evidence that the North Carolina primary was not rigged against Sanders, he simply lost. However, this ignores that a citizen’s vote is as valuable as the information behind it. With so many voters misinformed by a corporate media system that regularly denounced Sanders, it is not surprising that Clinton managed to accumulate more votes in North Carolina or beyond.
No Justice for Social Justice
But I think the two presidential candidates that we currently have also represent the issues that we have in this country right now…You have Hillary, who has called black teens or black kids ‘superpredators,’ you have Donald Trump who’s openly racist. We have a presidential candidate who has deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me because if that was any other person you’d be in prison. So, what is this country really standing for? – Millennial and NFL San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick
The Clinton coronation, anti-Sanders propaganda, and sensational Trump coverage wasted precious airtime that could have been devoted to more critical issues of social justice. A social justice framework acknowledges that inequality exists in society and provides a vision for altering or abolishing the responsible elements. A social justice agenda involves a commitment to justice, fairness, and equality through the democratic process, community engagement, inclusivity, empowerment, universal rights, and social movements that aim to end oppressive practices. In recent years, Millennials-based movements have turned out in droves to demand discussions over social justice issues, but their protests, just like the issues they care about, were often ignored or distorted both by the corporate media and the two major party candidates. Rather than properly covering or providing meaningful analysis of issues of racism, sexism, or Islamophobia as a proper Fourth Estate, the corporate media and its political allies covered Trump and Clinton campaign at the expense of social justice issues. In fact, they collectively constructed racist, sexist, and Islamophobic narratives while downplaying issues such as climate change and human rights.
Racism in Presidential Media Coverage
During the 2015-2016 news cycle, voters would have been better served focusing on critical stories associated with race instead of wasting coverage on frivolous and propagandistic content associated with the US presidential election. However, structures of racial inequality in the press contributed to White dominated discourses. The racist backed fear promoted by the White slanted corporate media coverage was undoubtedly beneficial to Trump’s candidacy. The corporate press reserved its denunciation of racism for Trump while excusing and hiding Clinton’s racism to allow further candidacy. The lack of meaningful discourse on racism in America by the corporate media or the major party candidates may be responsible for the lack of candidate endorsement by Black Lives Matter, an organized movement of primarily Millennials, which challenges racism in the US.
The corporate media coverage of the Presidential primaries revealed the embedded racism of the US media structure. In fact, the majority of contributors, on camera personalities, and owners are White. Black news staffers are so rare in the backstage press rooms that they encounter a reoccurring problem called the “Resume Check,” a term referring to White individuals who question the eligibility and legitimacy of employment for Black individuals. A sign of White dominance in the industry occurred in 2016 when Melissa Harris-Perry, an African American, lost her prime time MSNBC show. Harris-Perry claimed it was because MSNBC wanted her to act like a “token” stereotypical-Black woman who is a “mammy or little brown bobble head.” Harris-Perry found it odd that the network’s only show hosted by an African American female could be cut for the primary coverage by two White males and two White females.  It was especially concerning because she lost her job from MSNBC, but White male Brian Williams, who fabricated numerous stories for which he lost his previous job, continues to report with the network. Contemporary structures of corporate media allowed a disproportionate amount of time and power to White commentators in the media industry. That power and privilege allowed them to make editorial decisions to ignore or incompletely cover issues impacting communities of color.
Trump’s racist rhetoric created numerous opportunities for the corporate press and other candidates to discuss racism in a meaningful way. The 2015-2016 news cycle saw a barrage of appalling discourse from Trump, including claims that neither a judge nor a reporter were qualified to be impartial because they were Mexican; the encouragement of the beating of a BLM protestor; challenging President Barrack Obama’s citizenship; generalized claims that immigrants from Latin America were rapists and murders; reference to his “passionate” supporters who beat up a Latino homeless person; verbal attacks against Gold Star Parents as un-American because they are Muslim, and the continuation of treatment towards racial, ethnic, and religious groups like monoliths.
However, the corporate media, because of its structural biases about race and class, acted as a megaphone rather than a critic of Trump’s racist behavior. For example, during a CNN broadcast Trump supporter and CNN contributor Jeffrey Lord defended the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), an organization birthed in rebellion to Black citizenship in post-Civil War America. Lord said that the KKK is “a leftist terrorist organization” because they sought to “further the progressive agenda.” Lord’s explanation comes out of an historical vacuum. The DNC is today seen as part of the liberal party, but during Reconstruction, Democrats were the conservative racist party of the south. His explanation posited that since the KKK was affiliated with the 19th Century Democratic Party and the 21st century Democratic Party is touted as the progressive party, then the KKK was a progressive organization. This is a remarkable distortion of the historiography of the period mouthed as if it were some kind of obvious conventional wisdom. These statements are uttered with the utmost sobriety on a station that claims to be “the most trusted name in news.” It is, however, more reckless propaganda that further illustrates that ‘post-racial America’ is still quite racist.
The lack of equitable coverage for people of color in corporate media trivialized or downplayed race and racism in many ways. For example, in the summer of 2015, a pool party in McKinney, Texas turned violent when a police officer began arresting Black teenagers and slammed a Black female to the ground. A few days after a video of the incident surfaced, the corporate media debated the racial implications of the story and questioned whether or not the Black teenage female victim deserved to be slammed to the ground by the police officer. Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly bluntly stated, “The girl was no saint either. He had told her to leave, and she continued to linger.” However, Kelly, who completed a degree in law, seemed unaware that there was no Texas statute declaring “lingering” a crime punishable by being slammed to the ground. Similarly, the misrepresentation of Black Lives Matter exemplified the racist structures of the corporate press. Numerous studies, including on News Abuse by Project Censored, demonstrate how the corporate media denies racism and justifies violence when police officers kill unarmed people of color. However, the corporate press continued to commit News Abuse against BLM by incorrectly claiming they were responsible for the unlawful deaths of police, encouraged the killing of police, promoted segregation, and were somehow racist themselves.
During the presidential primaries, the White slant of the corporate media not only marginalized movements focused on racial inequality, but tried to herd non-White voters to Clinton. The corporate press constructed a narrative that Sanders was not receiving a large portion of the non-White vote because he lacked Clinton’s commitment to racial equality and pointed to the fact that Clinton was winning more of the non-White electorate than Sanders. However, the voting may have been different had there been accurate reporting on Clinton’s statements and policies toward people of color. The corporate media has yet to explain how Clinton, who worked for legendary racist and Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater at the same time Sanders marched with Martin Luther King Jr., was the candidate that best understands the struggles of people of color in the US. Interestingly, in the 1990s, Clinton said that “they [Black youths] are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called super predators. No conscience, no empathy.” Her statement reflected the White privileged position of dehumanizing African American youth rather than recognizing how national policies and structures of racial inequality have contributed to the African American experience. Similarly, in public statements and her memoir, Clinton admitted to having helped her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to pass the 1994 Crime Bill and Welfare Reform, both of which have had long lasting negative impacts on communities of color. Clinton mentioned her support for BLM but only met with some members privately, ignored their questions, and denounced their methods and perspectives as unrealistic. Similarly, in spring of 2016, Bill Clinton gave a speech in Philadelphia at a rally for Hillary, where he denounced BLM protestors as “defending the people who kill the lives you say matter.” In fact, leaked DNC emails show that the DNC had agreed not to engage with or pledge support for the BLM movement.
For those cynical that Clinton represented the best option for non-White voters, the corporate media manufactured and maintained a false narrative that Sanders could not attain the non-White vote. CNN reported that Sanders won in the Democratic caucuses of Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington and declared, “these caucus states—largely White and rural—are the type of places Sanders traditionally does well…he must replicate his success in other, more ethnically diverse states that hold primaries.” However, Hawaii is the least White state in the United States with only 27 percent of its residents identifying as White, and Alaska is only 67 percent White; less than the national average. In fact, Sanders received endorsements from nationally recognized African American figures such as journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates and noted professor, Cornel West.
The corporate media’s racist narrative about the 2016 Presidential Election was not just limited to African American voters, but attacked Latin@s as well. Commentators defended Trump for removing Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a press conference after Ramos asked how Trump was going to accomplish his plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and build a wall along the US and Mexico border. Bill O’Reilly of Fox interviewed Ramos and argued that his Latin American heritage prevented him from covering Trump objectively. Similarly, in September 2015, the corporate press strengthened the racism around Latin American immigration with a false study from White Supremacist groups published in USA Today which claimed that more than half of all immigrants in the US accept welfare. If the corporate media wanted to lampoon those reaping the benefits of welfare, they could have used validated studies which found that corporations accepted over $60 billion annually in tax payer funded welfare.
In addition to racist narratives, the 2016 presidential election news cycle saw politicians and the corporate media spread Islamophobia. In the wake of attacks beginning with Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the corporate press disseminated Islamophobic narratives. For example, conservative corporate media outlets denied President Obama’s claim that Islamophobia existed in the US. In late 2015, Fox News published an article titled “We’re not Islamophobic, Mr. Obama, we just don’t want to get blown up.” Meanwhile, presidential primary contender and US Senator Marco Rubio denied that discrimination against Muslims exists.
One has to wonder how different the presidential nominations may have turned out had the corporate media engaged in combatting racism and prejudice rather than engaging in it. There is little doubt that the racist backed fear promoted by the White slanted corporate media coverage was beneficial to Trump’s candidacy. As the election cycle continued, the corporate press reserved its denunciation of racism for Trump, while excusing and hiding Clinton’s racism thus likely assisting in her coronation as the Democratic candidate for president.
Sexism in Presidential Media Coverage
The corporate media’s narratives of inequality were not limited to race, religion, and ethnicity, but included gender as well. The corporate press marginalized sexism by reporting that the election of a woman president was tantamount to a final victory over sexism. The corporate media consistently framed the 2016 election as an “historic” election because of its potential to conclude with the first woman President of The United States. In fact, by late summer 2016, the only favorable attributes voters could glean from Clinton’s resume were that she was a woman and not Trump. Even her supporters touted little else about her personality, policy, or past accomplishments in the corporate press. However, the potential space for discussions about how America could start to ameliorate its sexist past only encouraged the corporate media to spew archaic gender stereotypes and engage in sexist double standards. During the 2016 election news cycle, candidates and commentators alike, often relied on misogyny to view female candidates and what they called ‘women’s issues.’
Millennials have been part of a sustained effort to battle inequities faced by women. In fact, 69% of Millennials believe that abortion is a decision that should be left up to women. That is about 20% more than the previous generation. Millennials were also involved in women’s rights movements such as the stalled Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls which sought to stop the kidnapping of school girls in Boko Haram. In 2013, Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, two of the leading scholars on the Millennial Generation wrote that “[M]illennial women are refusing to accept any restrictions, based on their gender or color, on what they might be allowed to do and what they may be able to achieve. The result has been vastly improved educational and income opportunities for women and a greater demand for the ability to blend work with the rest of life’s responsibilities and pleasures from both sexes.”
In 2016, the president of Fox News and former member of President Ronald Reagan’s communications team, Roger Ailes, demonstrated that much like racism, sexism is a structural part of the corporate press. Ailes was accused of offering women employment advancement in exchange for sex, calling those who refuse “man haters,” and refusing to give women advanced positions in the company until they have a sexual relationship with him. In addition, accusers claimed that Ailes allowed lead on camera male personalities at Fox such as Steve Doocey to sexually harass his co-hosts. Eventually Ailes received a $40 million severance package for leaving the network, but one of his accusers, Fox host Gretchen Carlson, received half that amount to end her lawsuit against Ailes. Little else could provide a clearer example of how and why sexism obfuscates corporate news reports on issues of gender inequities. Ailes went onto work for the Trump Campaign.
The corporate media’s narrow views on gender resulted in female candidates facing unscrupulous criticism of appearance. For example, in both the 2008 and 2016 elections, Clinton was criticized for her voice, laugh, clothing, cleavage, and emotional responses such as crying. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe veteran reporter Bob Woodward said of Clinton’s lack of likability that “I think a lot of it with Hillary Clinton has to do with style and delivery, oddly enough,” Woodward said. “She shouts. There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating.”
The limited narrative of femininity can also be a form of news abuse that favors Clinton. Clinton has said that she is the candidate of women, but other than identifying as a woman, she has not clearly defined what that means. The problematic discourse on Clinton and women mirrors the discourse on Obama and race. Obama was posited as the candidate for African Americans, but as of 2016, leading African American scholars and commentators such as Michael Eric Dyson, Eddie Glaude Jr., and Cornel West argue that Obama has done little, if anything, to support the inequities facing African Americans. Still, the corporate media narrative claimed that Clinton was the candidate females needed to support. The corporate press did not ask Clinton, which women she is fighting for?
Certainly not the women who were killed in Pakistan by the drone strikes she supported as Secretary of State. Similarly, there is no evidence that Clinton, as the first female board member at Wal-Mart, did anything to improve or even modify the inequitable compensation and promotion rates for women within the company. Lastly, as Secretary of State, she maintained foreign relations with countries that have blatant gender-based discrimination such as Saudi Arabia which does not allow women to drive; the United Arab Emirates which allows for the physical abuse of women by their husbands; Kuwait which has no laws prohibiting domestic violence, sexual harassment, or marital rape; and Qatar which does not recognize marital rape as a crime. Even worse, all four of these countries have made significant contributions to her and her husband’s foundation: The Clinton’s Foundation. None of this information has been covered by the corporate press since Clinton announced her bid for the presidency.
Rather than discuss gender inequities, the corporate media acted as a megaphone for sensationalized pieces of sexism. For example, the corporate media covered Trump’s sexist statements which justified “punishment” for women who procure abortions; how his daughter is so good looking he wishes he could date her; how his wife is more attractive than Cruz’s wife; his celebrations of sexually assaulting women, and his numerous other sexist remarks to Megyn Kelly, Hillary Clinton, and Carly Fiorina. Although, these comments created opportunities to critically analyze sexism in the US, the corporate press ignored meaningful discussion and sensationalized the stories into a kind of media junk that distracted from newsworthy conversations about how women earn 79 cents to every dollar earned by men for doing the same job, in the private sector as well where women comprise 45% of the labor workforce for S&P 500 companies yet only 4% of CEO positions, and the current percentage of women in the Senate and the House of Representatives is 20 and 19.3, respectively.
During the 2016 Presidential Election, the corporate press spewed sexist statements and reduced the needs and inequities of women down to never having a female president. The sexist structures in the corporate press including who is on air and who runs the media outlets contributed to the male slanted propaganda. Sexism is an issue that Millennials are not only concerned with, but are actively working to combat. However, the corporate press has often marginalized these efforts by reporting that a woman president is tantamount to a final victory over sexism, in the same way that the election of the African-American Barack Obama to the presidency ushered in a post-racial America. The facts suggest otherwise.
Big Oil Wins Big At the Debates
The corporate neoliberal class worked closely with the corporate media to marginalize important stories and debate concerning climate change. Climate change refers to the changes in the earth’s climate that result from human activity. Climate change is an issue of immense importance to the Millennials. In summer of 2016, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released their annual report titled “State of the Climate” which concluded that 2015 was the hottest year on record since dating back to the 19th century and this resulted in the “toppling of several symbolic milestones” in “global temperature, sea level rise, and extreme weather.” Corporations can influence the political discourse on climate change by funding candidates who support big oil. In the 2016 election, Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry set the corporate news agenda and elevated candidates who supported their economic interests. It resulted in voters being offered “debates” that lacked meaningful discussion about the human response to climate change.
Climate change has been an issue that has galvanized Millennials to take action. Roughly one third of people over 35 believe that climate change is not real, however 97 percent of voters aged 18 to 34 believe climate change is real. Furthermore, 80 percent of Millennial voters believe that the government needs to do something about climate change. During the July 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Millennial led movements including Occupy and BLM organized massive protests with groups working to stop climate change. The protests in Philadelphia demonstrated Millennial unity around the various erupting social movements.
The fossil fuel industry infused candidates with millions of dollars to limit the discussion about climate change. Nearly 60 percent of those contributions went to climate change denier, Ted Cruz who stated “the scientific evidence doesn’t support global warming.” Similarly, Clinton has received nearly $5 million in campaign contributions from the oil industry. In fact, leaked emails reveal that in exchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation, the former Secretary of State met with members of the Coal industry. Furthermore, while publicly opposing the gas extraction practice of fracking, which environmental groups have opposed, privately Clinton claimed that those who opposed fracking were part of a Russian plot.
In the past, Exxon, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron have all contributed to the Clinton Foundation to lobby her State Department to allow a massive oil pipeline from Canada to the US in the Alberta tar sands. The International Business Times (IBT) wrote that “according to federal lobbying records reviewed by the IBT, Chevron and ConocoPhillips both lobbied the State Department specifically on the issue of ‘oil sands’ in the immediate months prior to the department’s approval [of the pipeline], as did a trade association funded by ExxonMobil.” Some liberals have amnesia about Clinton’s fossil fuel record. Clinton only opposed fracking when it appeared politically viable to garner Millennials’ vote from the Sanders’ campaign. During her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton vigorously promoted fracking around the world.
The corporate media did not report the influence of the fossil fuel industry on the election because the corporate media is both owned and sponsored by the fossil fuel industry. There is strong evidence of the fossil fuel industry influence in corporate media. For example, Fox News’ owner Rupert Murdoch is a minority owner in the Golan Heights fossil fuel company, the Washington Post has published articles that covered-up the fossil fuel industry’s influence on the climate change debate, CNN broadcasts are dominated by fossil fuel advertisements, Fox News has continuously cited a debunked Fossil Fuel Industry study to undermine proposed EPA Carbon Pollution regulations, and numerous guests and think tanks in corporate media are paid for or supportive of the fossil fuel industry. Therefore, it is not surprising that as scholars and activists increasingly note how fossil fuels are a major contributing factor to human caused climate change. In fact, in 1981 private studies by Exxon Mobil confirmed that climate change exits. However, the corporate media offers voters incomplete and inaccurate reporting on the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. According to a media analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Fox News presented misleading statements in 72 percent of its climate-related segments, and a third of segments on CNN contained similar misinformation.
The corporate media ignored the influence of the fossil fuel industry on how and if candidates discussed issues surrounding climate change. Nonetheless, climate change is a pressing issue impacting the entire planet. Millennials know this to be true and have aligned and taken action to stop its impact. However, this issue of immense importance to Millennials took a back seat to Trump’s views and the corporate media’s coronation of Clinton.
In the 2016 election coverage, the corporate media also ignored or trivialized human rights issues. Human Rights are a concept rooted in the Magna Carta, multiple nations’ Bill of Rights, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and elsewhere. Millennial movements for human rights included marriage equality, opposition to drone strikes and the killing of unarmed citizens by police, opposition to human trafficking, and more. During the 2016 election, Trump’s near fascistic behavior along with Clinton’s egregious record on human rights and Sanders’ support of state sponsored murder without a trial, demonstrated the lack of nuanced discourse about human rights in corporate media and the political class.
Trump’s Branded Fascism?
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written in response to the fascist regimes that murdered millions of people in human rights abuses during the World War II era. Trump’s campaign embodied similar fascist undertones reminiscent of Benito Mussolini’s Italy, Francisco Franco’s Spain, and Adolph Hitler’s Germany: patriotic preaching of nationalism, non-recognition of human rights, development of scapegoats for domestic problems, megalomania of the leader, and control of mass media for propaganda purposes. 
The scapegoats in Trump’s campaign included Muslims, Mexicans, and other immigrants. Trump has garnered support with his plan to “build a wall against Mexico,” which he claims will be paid for by Mexico. Similarly, Trump has claimed that all Muslims should be banned from traveling to the US. In the months following these statements the US continued to have numerous hate crimes against followers of Islam including a Muslim woman who was forcibly ejected from a Trump rally for silently protesting Trump’s claim that “all Syrians are loyal to ISIS.” The ubiquitous discrimination undermined the basic human rights of free speech and religion, both of which are stated in the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A study by the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University found a massive rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015. The upsurge coincided with attacks in Paris, France, San Bernardino, California, as well as Trump’s comments. Furthermore, Trump’s handlers controlled the press by forcibly removing journalists who asked unfavorable questions that subverted the freedom of the press as an essential component to the protection of human rights.
Despite the abundance of statements and incidents in which human rights were a central issue, the corporate press largely trivialized or excused Trump’s behavior. Corporate news outlets ignored numerous opportunities to critically analyze Trump’s proposed policies because they dismissed his chance for victory. For example, the Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank agreed to eat his own column page if Trump garnered the Republican nomination, and the New York Times‘ Ross Douthat tweeted, “The entire commentariat is going to feel a little silly when Marco Rubio wins every Republican primary.” Bloomberg News wrote that, “Trump Will Still Lose. Here’s How,” and David Brooks of the New York Times, informed readers that “No, Donald Trump Won’t Win.” This tone in the corporate press covered Trump as a junk food news figure rather than a fascist leaning candidate. However, by spring 2016, Trump had become the presumptive Republican nominee. Even those in the corporate press who admitted a Trump victory was possible, downplayed his statements and behavior. For example, in a March 2016 Newsweek article, Matthew Cooper, who worked with the White House to garner support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, argued that Trump’s policies will not succeed because “Trump isn’t Hitler. He isn’t a fascist either…he is more like Jimmy Carter.”
The corporate press has largely stayed away from calling Trump a racist or putting his comments in the proper historical and political context, despite glaring examples such as Trump’s efforts to ‘prove’ that Obama, the first Black President of the US, was not a US citizen. The Boston Globe argued that Trump’s brand of politics is a European import, “a right-populist movement that could reorganize the American political spectrum.” The article ignores the US political history of candidates who used racist statements on the campaign trail. Similarly, The Los Angeles Times claimed that the Trump strategy was like Nixon’s “silent majority,” a term for working class Whites. However, Chip Berlet, writing for FAIR, argued that Nixon’s Southern Strategy of race baiting would have been a more accurate analogy. Even when news outlets mentioned Trump’s “fascism,” false declarations that “fascism died in the mid-20th century,” ignored contemporary xenophobic behavior, neo-fascist groups in Europe (including ones the US Department of State supported in the Ukrainian coup of 2014), and increased nationalism.
The corporate press told a contradictory tale: Trump cannot win, but coverage must continue at the expense of news worthy stories because he is the front runner. Howard Kurtz of Fox and Campbell Brown formerly of NBC and CNN, argued that the media is not to blame, but rather the television networks, for Trump’s popularity because Trump’s speeches maintained priority over real news reports. Candidates like Rubio, Sanders, Cruz, and John Kasich paid for television coverage while, the corporate media was glued to Trump, and to a lesser degree Clinton. Subsequently, Trump received $1.8 billion and Clinton received $746 million in free media attention.
The finger pointing between networks, anchors, and pundits did little to ameliorate the impact Trump’s brand of fascism on the US population. Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 election, the corporate media provided Trump with ample coverage to cultivate and give platform to a potentially neo-fascistic movement within American society.
Critics on the Left Challenge Clinton’s Human Rights Record
Similar to Trump’s fascist flair, the corporate media myth of the dovish Democrat obscured how the Democratic Party’s candidates had an agenda that undermined human rights. For example, Sanders supported having a list of people the federal government wants to assassinate because they are suspected of terrorism (a continuation of Obama’s “kill list”). These individuals would be killed without a trial, which is a basic tenant of human rights. Meanwhile, Clinton has an egregious human rights record. In 2011 as Secretary of State, she approved $200 billion in arms deals to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, all of which have been routinely criticized for human rights abuses. Furthermore, released emails indicate that Clinton allowed nations with known human rights abuses to have access to the State Department during her tenure, not based on their ethics, but based on their financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation. These stories were either ignored or distorted in favor of Clinton by the corporate press.
Many revelations regarding Clinton’s human rights atrocities were previously dubbed as unsubstantiated claims by the corporate press. However, in March of 2016, WikiLeaks released a trove of Clinton’s private emails that confirmed her involvement in human rights abuses. The emails contained much of the evidence that the FBI was using in their investigation into whether Clinton leaked classified information over her private server. The evidence of Clinton’s involvement in human rights abuses have been widely available since WikiLeaks released them in 2016, but outlets such as Washington Post, CNN, NBC, and The New York Times have ignored or trivialized Clinton’s leaked e-content.
The corporate press also censored Clinton’s human rights abuses. In 2009, Clinton as Secretary of State, supported the overthrow of democratically elected leader in Honduras. Private emails demonstrated that Clinton ignored the Honduran Constitution as she helped orchestrate the overthrow. Immediately following the coup, the new leadership issued a state of “exception” which suppressed basic human rights such as freedom of assembly, freedom of transit, due process, justified unwarranted searches and seizures, and carried out murders and kidnappings of political opponents. Yet, Clinton publicly stated that the coup resulted in no bloodshed or civil war The overthrow led to a spike in undocumented children in the US. Over “13,000 of the estimated 47,000 children detained between October 2013 to May 2014 came from Honduras, more than from any other country.”  The corporate media did not question Clinton on the issue.
Honduras was only one of the many illegal overthrows, which occurred while Clinton was US Secretary of State, that have been ignored by the corporate media’s narrative of the dove Democrat. In 2011, as Secretary of State, she publicly referred to her overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya as a “humanitarian intervention.” However, in a private email, her adviser stated that the “humanitarian motive offered is limited, conditional and refers to a specific past situation.” The email directly implied that human rights had nothing to do with the mission. Her remarks to news reporters upon learning of Gaddafi’s were hardly humanitarian in tenor as she stated, “we came, he saw, he died.” Further, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations found that 400,000 people were displaced, millions were impoverished, and violence escalated in the region with complete impunity as a result of US intervention. The overthrow was disastrous and human rights abuses have spilled over into Tunisia, Mali, and the Lake Chad regions. Yet again, the corporate media did not confront Clinton with questions regarding her actions.
When faced with reporting on Clinton’s human rights abuses, the corporate press excuses them. The New York Times distracted and obfuscated Clinton’s human rights abuses in a 2015 op-ed titled “Forget Benghazi. What About Libya?” The article, written by a former State Department official, David Tafuri, argued that the media should ignore the Benghazi investigation by the US Congress, which aimed to put blame on then Secretary of State Clinton for destabilizing Libya and causing the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and focus on Clinton’s “success” in Libya. However, the article ignored Ambassador Stevens’ discussion of leaving Benghazi because of the deteriorating security nearly 18 months prior to his death. Similarly, Clinton’s leaked emails revealed her work to stabilize other nations such as Syria as well as intentions to work with Google using digital tools as a device to help lead an overthrow of its president.
Had the corporate press not been covering Trump’s media junk and crowning Clinton, they would have had the resources to provide citizen consumers with meaningful information regarding the candidates’ roles as human rights violators. Instead, these human rights issues, which are at the center of Millennial social and political movements, went marginalized and ostracized by the corporate press.
Alicia Garza, a founding member of BLM said of the 2016 Presidential Election “we do have to have honest conversations about inequality, about race, and neither candidate is doing that. …” A very concerning outcome of the 2016 presidential election is the marginalization of Millennials. Project Censored and its supporters have continued Jensen’s legacy of working with students to broaden voters’ consciousness. However, as Kevin Gosztola of ShadowProof points out, despite their efforts, Millennials have been mocked by the corporate press for being checked out and ineffective in their methods. For example, in 2011, John Avlon of The Daily Beast claimed that “These [Occupy] protesters have the trappings of anarchists with Apple computers—they are earnest and know how to play for the cameras. They have internalized slogans that capture emotions but are too often unrelated to solutions. And that is a lost opportunity.” In fact, Fox News host Neil Cavuto joked that “We noticed that plenty of the [Occupy] protesters railing against capitalism on Wall Street, they use a lot of Apple products. Can they have it both ways?” Similarly, Hillary Clinton referred to Sanders’ supporters as unrealistic and ignorant claiming that they want “free college, free healthcare” but they “don’t know what that means.” Since then Clinton has dismissively offered to meet Millennials’ demands by enrolling them into some sort of US Government volunteer program.
The contemptuous manner in which the corporate media portray Millennials ignores the strides and efforts made by Millennials to overcome injustices. The Millennial Generation in the US was raised with digital technologies and they have demonstrated their preference for collaboration and customization, commitment to integrity, and willingness to transform conceptions of what is possible. They have created and maintained numerous movements such as Democracy Spring, BLM, LGBTQI Rights, Fight for 15, #BringBackOurGirls, Occupy, Environmental Movement, DREAMers, and more. They are working to overcome the cynical portrait of their generation by both changing and participating in the system through community organizing and voting. This action maybe a critical sign of future political endeavors since they will be the largest portion of the voting populace in 2020.
The impact of Millennial movements on the 2016 presidential election is clouded by actions of the DNC and corporate media’s efforts to undermine the democratic process. It is unknown how the election might have been different had the corporate media and political parties not colluded to influence voters and the election process as they did. Strong evidence exists that Millennials influenced the electorate to vote against the gatekeepers in the corporate media and political elite. However, the question remains: will this defeat of Millennial ideals ad policy turn into a corporate media self-fulfilling prophecy where Millennials become apathetic and idle, viewing a confrontation with the plutocracy as futile, or will it result in an expansion of these movements aimed at dismantling the corporate media political party complex and neoliberal institutions that undermine the social justice oriented issues this generation cares about? Time will tell, though the inertia of Millennials and their movements for social justice suggest apathy is not an option in the effort to create a more just and equitable world.
Nolan Higdon is a professor of Critical Media Literacy Education and Latin American and US History in the San Francisco Bay Area. His academic work focuses on nationalism, propaganda, and critical media literacy education. He sits on the boards of the Media Freedom Foundation, Sacred Heart University’s Media Literacy and Digital Culture Graduate Program, and the Northwest Alliance For Alternative Media And Education. He co-founded the Global Critical Media Literacy Project where he served two years as coordinator.
Mickey Huff is director of Project Censored and serves on the board of the Media Freedom Foundation. To date, he has edited or co-edited eight volumes of Censored and contributed numerous chapters to these works dating back to 2008, mostly recently Censored 2017: Fortieth Anniversary Edition. Additionally, he has coauthored several chapters on media and propaganda for other scholarly publications. He is currently professor of social science and history at Diablo Valley College in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is co-chair of the history department. Huff is co-host with former Project Censored director Peter Phillips of The Project Censored Show, the weekly syndicated public affairs program that originates from KPFA Pacifica Radio in Berkeley CA, now on 35 stations around the US from Maui to New York.
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 For more on this topic, see a related study by the authors included in Censored 2017: Fortieth Anniversary Edition, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2016) in chapter 3, which will be published fall 2016.
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Jill Colvin, “Trump Displays Steak, Water, Wine to Defend Business Record,” Salon, March 9, 2016, www.salon.com/2016/03/09/trump_displays_steak_water_wine_to_defend_business_record/.
 Jon Schwarz, “Top GOP Pollster: Young Americans are Terrifyingly Liberal,” Intercept, February 24, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/02/24/top-gop-pollster-young-americans-are-terrifyingly-liberal/.
 Aaron Blake, “74-Year-Old Bernie Sanders’s Remarkable Dominance among Young Voters, in 1 Chart,” Washington Post, March 17, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/03/17/74-year-old-bernie-sanderss-amazing-dominance-among-young-voters-in-1-chart/.
 Scott Eric Kaufman, “Joe Scarborough: Why Even Vote for Bernie Sanders When the Race is Already ‘Rigged’ for Hillary Clinton?” Salon, April 11, 2016, www.salon.com/2016/04/11/joe_scarborough_why_even_vote_for_bernie_sanders_when_the_race_is_already_rigged_for_hillary_clinton/.
 Tom Cahill, “It’s Official—the First Democratic Convention Just Abolished Superdelegates,” US Uncut, May 7, 2016, usuncut.com/politics/maine-democratic-party-just-got-rid-superdelegate-system/.
 Michael McAuliff, “Bill Clinton Blames Millennials for Anger, Economy, Congress,” Huffington Post, April 21, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bill-clinton-blames-millennials_us_57191d13e4b0d0042da88c9f.
 Deirdre Fulton, “Pro-Clinton Super PAC Caught Astroturfing on Social Media, Op-Ed Pages,” Common Dreams, May 6, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/06/pro-clinton-super-pac-caught-astroturfing-social-media-op-ed-pages.
 Ben Collins, “Hillary PAC Spends $1 Million to ‘Correct’ Commenters on Reddit and Facebook,” Daily Beast, April 21, 2016, www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/21/hillary-pac-spends-1-million-to-correct-commenters-on-reddit-and-facebook.html.
 “Bump for Trump as Carson Fades in Republican Race, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Clinton, Sanders Surge in Matchups with GOP Leaders,” Quinnipiac University National Poll, December 2, 2015, 2016, https://www.qu.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2307.
Ryan Rifai, “Polls: Sanders Has More Potential to Beat Trump,” Al Jazeera, May 14, 2016,, www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/05/polls-sanders-potential-beat-trump-160514170035436.html.
 For more on this topic, see a related study by the authors included in Censored 2017: Fortieth Anniversary Edition, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2016) in chapter 3, which will be published fall 2016.
 Tom Cahill, “9 Leaked Emails the DNC Doesn’t Want You to See,” US Uncut, July 23, 2016, usuncut.com/politics/dnc-leaks-9-emails/
 Rudy Takala, “Twitter accused of suppressing DNC Wikileaks story,” Washington Examiner, July 22, 2016.
 Glenn Greenwald, “TV Pundits Praise Hillary Clinton On Air, Fail to Disclose Financial Ties to Her Campaign,” The Intercept, February 25, 2016,
 Michael Corcoran, “The ‘Anti-Clinton Media’ Are Big Donors to Clinton Foundation–and to Clinton,” FAIR, September 3, 2016, http://fair.org/home/the-anti-clinton-media-are-big-donors-to-clinton-foundation-and-to-clinton/
 Glenn Greenwald, “Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in US,” The Intercept August 8 2016
 Ellen Nakashima, “Is there a Russian master plan to install Trump in the White House? Some intelligence officials are skeptical., The Washington Post, July 27, 2016,
 Glenn Greenwald, “Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in US,” The Intercept August 8 2016,
Jo Becker, Steven Erlanger and Eric Schmitt, “How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets: American officials say Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks probably have no direct ties to Russian intelligence services. But the agendas of WikiLeaks and the Kremlin have often dovetailed,” New York Times, August 31, 2016, www.mobile.nytimes.com/2016/09/01/world/europe/wikileaks-julian-assange-russia.html?referer=https://www.google.com/
 Kevin Gosztola, “Media Scrambles To Discourage Sanders Supporters From Voting Jill Stein,” Shadow Proof, August 9, 2016, https://shadowproof.com/2016/08/09/media-scrambles-discourage-sanders-supporters-voting-jill-stein/
Frank Bowman, “If You Vote Third Party, You’re Voting for Capt. Donald,” Slate, August 12, 2016, www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/08/if_you_vote_third_party_you_re_voting_for_capt_donald_trump.html
Bill Maher has argued on his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher that a vote for a third party is a vote for Hillary Clinton on numerous occasions.
Tom Ortenberg, “Donald Trump Is Too Dangerous to Waste Your Vote on a Third-Party Candidate (Guest Column),” Hollywood Reporter, August 12, 2016, www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/donald-trump-is-dangerous-waste-917442
Josh Feldman, ‘Is It Good for the Country…’: Chris Matthews Smacks Down Third-Party Talk,” Mediaite, May 31, 2016, www.mediaite.com/tv/is-it-good-for-the-country-chris-matthews-smacks-down-third-party-talk/
 Jenna Amatulli, “#GirlIGuessImWithHer Is The Ambivalent Hashtag This Election Needed: The struggle is so real,” The Huffington Post, June 9, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/girliguessimwithher-hillary-clinton-hashtag_us_57597519e4b0e39a28acaae9
 “Debunked: The Myth That Ralph Nader Cost Al Gore the 2000 Election,” Disinfo, August 12, 2016, August 12, www.disinfo.com/2010/11/debunked-the-myth-that-ralph-nader-cost-al-gore-the-2000-election/
Brooks Jackson, “The Florida Recount of 2000,” Fact Check, January 22, 2008, www.factcheck.org/2008/01/the-florida-recount-of-2000/
 Ari Berman, “How the 2000 Election in Florida Led to a New Wave of Voter Disenfranchisement: A botched voter purge prevented thousands from voting—and empowered a new generation of voting-rights critics,” The Nation, July 28, 2015, https://www.thenation.com/article/how-the-2000-election-in-florida-led-to-a-new-wave-of-voter-disenfranchisement/
 Election Justice USA, “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries,” June 2016, https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4LA0aBeKeszaUxsM3lieExub0E/view
 “Sarah Silverman ad lib changes tone of DNC,” Rachael Maddow Show, MSNBC, July 25, 2016, www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/sarah-silverman-ad-lib-changes-tone-of-dnc-732046403774
Howard Kurtz, “Hillary deals with angry convention as Sarah Silverman busts the Bernie backers,” Fox News, July 26, 2016, www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/07/26/hillary-deals-with-angry-convention-as-sarah-silverman-busts-bernie-backers.html
 Ryan Grim and Sam Stein, “Harry Reid On Bernie And The DNC: ‘Everybody Knew That This Was Not A Fair Deal’ Huffington Post, July 27, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/harry-reid-bernie-sanders-dnc_us_5799259fe4b02d5d5ed42db6?section=
 Harry Enten, “Americans’ Distaste For Both Trump And Clinton Is Record-Breaking,” Five Thirty Eight, May 5, 2016, www.fivethirtyeight.com/features/americans-distaste-for-both-trump-and-clinton-is-record-breaking/
 Ron Dicker, “Anthem-Protesting QB Colin Kaepernick Is Now Attacking Trump And Clinton He’s “openly racist”; she’s “done things illegally,” Aug 29, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/anthem-protesting-qb-colin-kaepernick-is-now-attacking-trump-and-clinton_us_57c42405e4b026734450ce74?
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 Mollie Reilly, “ABC’s New President Channing Dungey Is the First Black Person to Lead a Major Network,” Huffington Post, February 17, 2016,
Michael Tkaczevski, “Some Things Considered, Mostly by White Men,” Fair, July 15, 2015,
Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel, “Do Racists Like Fox News, or Does Fox Make People Racist?,” Fair, December 22, 2015, http://fair.org/home/do-racists-like-fox-news-or-does-fox-make-people-racist/.
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 Gabriel Arana, “MSNBC has been Whitewashed: Melissa Harris-Perry exits, buffoonish White pundits rule once more,” Salon, March 1, 2016,
 Michael Garofalo, “I will not be used as a tool for their purposes: Melissa Harris-Perry walks off MSNBC show,” Salon, February 26, 2016, http://www.salon.com/2016/02/26/i_will_not_be_used_as_a_tool_for_their_purposes_melissa_harris_perry_walks_off_msnbc_show/.
 Roger Yu, “Brian Williams Returns to Air on MSNBC on Sept. 22 for Pope Visit,” USA Today, September 16, 2015,
 Lydia O’Connor and Daniel Marans, “Here Are 13 Examples Of Donald Trump Being Racist,” Huffington Post, February 29, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-racist-examples_us_56d47177e4b03260bf777e83
 Nick Wing, “A Donald Trump Fanboy Tried To Whitesplain The KKK To Van Jones, And Things Got Heated,” Huffington Post, March 2, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeffrey-lord-van-jones-cnn_us_56d667cbe4b0871f60ed365a.
 Thomas Bishop, “’The Girl Was No Saint Either”: Fox Jumps To Defend McKinney Police Officer’s Brutal Manhandling Of Teen Girl At Pool Party,” Media Matters, June 8, 2015, http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/06/08/the-girl-was-no-saint-either-fox-jumps-to-defen/203924.
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Media Matters Staff, “O’Reilly: “Black Lives Matter Is Killing Americans”Bill O’Reilly: “There Is A Violent Sub-Culture In The African-American Community That Should Be Exposed And Confronted,” Media Matters, May 25, 2016, www.mediamatters.org/video/2016/05/25/oreilly-black-lives-matter-killing-americans/210589
“Live Updates: Baton Rouge Law Enforcement Officers Shot,” New York Times, July 7, 2016, www.nytimes.com/live/police-shooting-in-baton-rouge/black-lives-matter-leader-calls-for-peace/
Jeremy Diamond, “Trump: Black Lives Matter has helped instigate police killings,” CNN, July 19, 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/07/18/politics/donald-trump-black-lives-matter/
“‘White People to the Back!’: Black Lives Matter Segregates Media by Race” Fox News, July 26, 2016, www.insider.foxnews.com/2016/07/26/black-lives-matter-segregates-reporters-race-dnc
Cathy Burke, “Rudy Giuliani: Black Lives Matter Is ‘Inherently Racist,” News Max, July 10, 2016, www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/rudy-giuliani-black-lives-matter-racist/2016/07/10/id/737959
 Elise Foley, “Hillary Clinton Dominates With NonWhite Voters On Super Tuesday,” Huffington Post, March 02, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/clinton-sanders-minority-voters_us_56d6f8e3e4b0bf0dab33f4f9
 Russ Baker, “How Clinton Media Machine Blocked Sanders Civil Rights Play,” Who What Why, March 3, 2016, whowhatwhy.org/2016/03/03/how-clinton-media-machine-blocked-sanders-civil-rights-play/.
 Jim Naureckas, “Why Did It Take an Activist to Bring ‘Superpredators’ Into the Campaign?,” Fair, February 27, 2016, http://fair.org/home/why-did-it-take-an-activist-to-bring-superpredators-into-the-campaign/.
 Nick Wing, “Bill Clinton Spars With Protesters Who Say He Destroyed Black Communities,” Huffington Post, April 7, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bill-clinton-protesters_us_5706b117e4b0537661891a36.
Zach Carter, “Nothing Bill Clinton Said To Defend His Welfare Reform Is True,” Huffington Post, April 9, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bill-clinton-welfare-reform_us_5707cbf4e4b0c4e26a227a34.
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 Ben Mathis-Lilley, “Watch Bill Clinton Tell Black Lives Matter Protesters They’re Defending Drug Sales and Murder,” Slate, April 7, 2016, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/04/07/video_bill_clinton_philadelphia_Black_lives_matter_protesters_gang_leaders.html.
 Jason Murdock, “Democratic Party tactics for ‘dealing’ with Black Lives Matter leaked by hacker who claims to have hacked Nancy Pelosi’s personal computer,” International Business Times, August 31, 2016, www.ibtimes.co.uk/democratic-party-tactics-dealing-black-lives-matter-leaked-by-hacker-1578918
Nadia Prupis,”Hack Reveals Dem Candidates Told Not to Pledge Support for Black Lives Matter Policies: Leaked memos show candidates were also told to limit number of Black Lives Matter activists at campaign appearances” Common Dreams, August 31, 2016, www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/31/hack-reveals-dem-candidates-told-not-pledge-support-black-lives-matter-policies
 Chris Moody, “Takeaways from Western Saturday,” CNN, March 28, 2016,
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 This chapter uses Latin@ to recognize the gender identification of Latinos and Latinas.
 Ed Mazza, “Bill O’Reilly Claims Univision And Jorge Ramos Can’t Cover Trump Fairly,” Huffington Post, March 17, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-jorge-ramos_us_56ea1fcbe4b0860f99db9705.
Rob Garver, “With Rubio’s Latest Flip-Flop, the GOP May Have Given Up on the Hispanic Vote,” Fiscal Times, February 19, 2016, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/02/19/Rubio-s-Latest-Flip-Flop-GOP-May-Have-Given-Hispanic-Vote.
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 Kim Bellware, “Here Are The Women Publicly Accusing Roger Ailes Of Sexual Harassment,” Huffington Post, August 12, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/roger-ailes-accusers-list_us_57a9fa19e4b06e52746db865
Sam Reisman, “The 7 Most Shocking Claims in Gretchen Carlson’s Complaint Against Fox’s Roger Ailes,” Mediaite, July 6th, 2016, www.mediaite.com/online/here-are-the-7-most-shocking-claims-in-gretchen-carlsons-complaint-against-foxs-roger-ailes/
 Sam Reisman, “The 7 Most Shocking Claims in Gretchen Carlson’s Complaint Against Fox’s Roger Ailes,” Mediaite, July 6th, 2016, www.mediaite.com/online/here-are-the-7-most-shocking-claims-in-gretchen-carlsons-complaint-against-foxs-roger-ailes/
 Ryan Grenoble, “Fox Paid Roger Ailes Twice As Much As The Woman He Allegedly Harassed: What a world,” Huffington Post, September 7, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fox-roger-ailes-gretchen-carlson-payout_us_57cee12ce4b02c637c57d8b0
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 Rania Khalek, “Hillary Clinton and the Feminism of Exculsion,” Fair, January 1, 2015, http://fair.org/extra/hillary-clinton-and-the-feminism-of-exclusion/.
 Liza Featherstone, “Hillary Clinton’s Faux Feminism,” Truthout, February 28, 2016, http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/35006-hillary-clinton-s-faux-feminism.
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 Amanda Marcotte, “The Clinton Foundation Accepts Money From Countries That Mistreat Women. Is That Bad?,” Slate, March 9, 2015, http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2015/03/09/hillary_clinton_s_latest_problem_the_clinton_foundation_took_money_from.html.
 Elise Foley, Samantha Lachman and Igor Bobic, “Donald Trump Goes Full Anti-Woman, Suggests ‘Punishment’ For Women Who Abort,” Huffington Post, March 31, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-abortion-women-punishment_us_56fc2a99e4b083f5c606880d/.
Alex Griswold, “Donald Trump Won’t Stop Joking About Banging His Daughter,” Mediaite, September 10, 2015, http://www.mediaite.com/online/donald-trump-wont-stop-joking-about-banging-his-daughter/.
Aaron Rupar, “Republican Presidential Race Devolves Into Sexist Competition Over Whose Wife Is Hotter,” Think Progress, March 24, 2016, http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2016/03/24/3763024/trump-cruz-heidi-melania/.
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 Michael Dickinson, “Rupert Murdoch and the Israeli Genie,” Counter Punch, March 27, 2016, http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/27/rupert-murdoch-and-the-israeli-genie/ Guardian Media Group to divest its £800m fund from fossil fuels
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