Trump criticizes news media


Numerous news media outlets, including CNN, NPR and The New York Times, reported Wednesday that Donald Trump’s presidential transition was in a state of disarray.

According to the reports, the disarray was marked by the firing of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the subsequent hiring of Vice President-elect Mike Pence as chair of the transition. It was reported that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, purged the transition team of anyone affiliated with Christie.

Trump emphatically refuted the claims of turmoil in his transition team. Trump attacked the news media, particularly The New York Times, for the reports.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-6-03-58-pmHe tweeted that the reports were “so totally wrong” and that the transition was going “so smoothly.”

While Trump’s criticism of news media organizations is nothing new, his attacks will carry more significance now that he has been elected.

Since Trump has the tendency to deny any negative coverage involving him, the role of the news media may increase during a Trump presidency.

News media outlets have a responsibility to seek the truth and report it. Journalists must remain vigilant in spite of Trump’s denial and make sure that the American people are not being lied to by the president-elect.

Sports figures avoid election drama


After Donald Trump’s shocking victory over Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s presidential election, several major sports figures expressed apathy toward the result.

Nick Saban, head football coach of the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, said that he was unaware of the election.

“It was so important to me that I didn’t even know it was happening,” Saban said. “We’re focused on other things here.”

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, a long-time friend of Donald Trump, sent a letter of congratulations to the president-elect, but asserted that the letter was not politically motivated.

“I have multiple friendships that are important to me and that’s what that was about.” Belichick said. “So, it’s not about politics. It’s about football.”

Even San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, said that the result of the election was irrelevant to him.

“I’ve been very disconnected from the systematic oppression as a whole,” Kaepernick said. “So, for me, it’s another face that’s going to be the face of that system of oppression.”

Kaepernick, who has received death threats for kneeling during the national anthem, has not shied away from the political spotlight in the past. Kaepernick’s apathy is surprising considering Clinton’s support of Black Lives Matter and Trump’s support of police.

However, athletes and coaches are constantly under intense scrutiny by fans and the sports media, so it makes sense that they would avoid increased criticism for their political opinions.

As the nation recovers from a divisive election season, the sports world will act as both as a distraction and as a unifying tool.

Trump cuts into Clinton’s lead


With Election Day four days away, the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has tightened significantly.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Clinton now has a 66 percent chance of winning the presidency, down from 86 percent in the middle of October.

Trump’s resurgence can be attributed to FBI Director James Comey, who wrote a letter to Congress indicating that the FBI was reviewing more of Clinton’s emails. Comey wrote that, while the investigation has been reopened, it is unknown whether or not the emails contain any relevant information.

Comey was chastised by the news media, Democrats and even some Republicans for interfering with the presidential race so close to Election Day.

Daniel Richman, an adviser to Comey, criticized the news media for blowing the letter out of proportion. Richman argued that the letter explicitly expressed the uncertainty of the case and that the news media took the information out of context.

“It would be really nice if members of the media and members of the public realized that there’s a real possibility that there will be duplicates,” Richman said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “Since they haven’t been checked, the bureau can’t say, but we can guess from the outside.”

Richman’s argument, while logical, ignores the fact that the news media has an obligation to report on issues relevant to the public.

Considering the amount of uncertainty in the case, Comey should have kept the information within the FBI and written the letter after determining whether or not there was significant information. The news media is not to blame; the vague, ambiguous letter is itself misleading to the public.

Comey’s letter and its subsequent coverage has impacted voters who already consider Clinton to be untrustworthy. In addition, it has distracted voters from the sexual harassment allegations that nearly sunk the Trump campaign in October.

Kelly, Gingrich clash on Fox News


Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, clashed with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during a live television interview earlier this week.

Kelly asked Gingrich about the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump and whether or not they were causing him to slip in the polls. Gingrich responded by accusing Kelly and other members of the news media of bias against Trump.

“You are fascinated with sex and you don’t care about public policy,” Gingrich said to Kelly. Gingrich also said that Kelly has not given a fair amount of coverage to the scandals of the Clinton campaign.

Kelly argued that her show, “The Kelly File”, has covered all stories relevant to the 2016 presidential race, including the sexual assault allegations against Bill Clinton and the private paid speeches that Hillary Clinton made to big banks.

Kelly said that polls show that the allegations against Trump are concerning to voters and that she has an obligation to report on them.screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-34-05-pm

After the exchange between Kelly and Gingrich, the news media responded by speculating on the future of Fox News.

The traditionally conservative network is in a transition period after CEO Roger Ailes was ousted over sexual harassment accusations.

Fox News is not used to its anchors clashing with Republican politicians. Kelly’s altercation with Gingrich is representative of the division within the GOP over the Trump campaign as well as the network’s increased willingness to allow its journalists to disagree with party leaders.

With the network’s niche audience divided over Trump, Kelly’s moderate perspective is key to retaining viewers who may be turned off by traditionalist anchors like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.

Forecast models predict Clinton victory


In a wild and chaotic election season, pollsters and statisticians are attempting to do the seemingly impossible: predict the winner of the 2016 presidential election.

National and state polls get the most attention from media organizations, as they are simple ways of communicating how much support the candidates are receiving.

However, political scientists also produce forecast models which may provide a more insightful look into what will happen come election day.

The forecast models incorporate the voting history of each state and hundreds of national and state polls in order to determine how many electoral votes each candidate is likely to receive.

The models are produced by organizations such as The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, and the Princeton Election Consortium.

According to the forecast models, Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite to be elected president. The Princeton Election Consortium model gives Clinton a 97% chance of being elected. The New York Times says that Clinton is 89 percent likely to win the presidency. The FiveThirtyEight model gives Clinton an 86 percent chance.

When reporting on the 2016 election, individual state and national polls only tell part of the story.

While the forecast models clearly have error and uncertainty, they take hundreds of pieces of information into account to produce an exhaustive look at the presidential race.

When news organizations only report the results of individual polls, they are providing people with incomplete and unreliable information.

In addition to providing poll results, news media outlets should report on the forecast models to make sure people are not receiving skewed interpretations of the presidential race.

Matthew shakes up college football


As Hurricane Matthew, the longest-lived Atlantic major hurricane since Ivan in 2004, moves through the Bahamas and approaches the southeastern United States, evacuations have been ordered and preparations have been made for the possibly devastating impacts of the storm.

Several major college football programs, including the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Gators, are scheduled to host games this Saturday which may be impacted by the storm. Hurricane Matthew is forecast to move north along Florida’s east coast on Thursday and Friday.

Depending on Matthew’s track and the associated damage, Miami, Florida and South Carolina may be forced to reschedule or even cancel their respective games against Florida State, Louisiana State and Georgia.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-00-55-pmAs of Thursday afternoon, no scheduling changes have been made for college football games this Saturday.

However, the impact on preparations for the game cannot be understated.

While most sports media organizations are focusing on the hurricane’s impacts on game scheduling, the most significant effects of Matthew will likely be on transportation and preparation.

The University of Miami has closed its campus on Thursday and Friday, meaning the Hurricanes will be unable to practice before the game. Florida State has delayed its travel plans and will take a bus to Miami on Friday instead of Thursday.

Hurricanes are dangerous and cannot be taken lightly. However, college football games and television deals are valuable and will not be cancelled or postponed unless the safety of fans, players and coaches is threatened.

In this case, the storm will likely be clear of most college football stadiums come Saturday afternoon. With the games almost certain to be played, teams must ensure that the transportation and preparation issues do not negatively impact performance.

Trump claims debate was rigged


At Monday night’s first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off on issues such as taxes, gun control and foreign policy. The candidates also exchanged personal blows, with Clinton criticizing her opponent’s inexperience and sexism and Trump attacking his opponent’s e-mails and temperament.

While the process of declaring a debate winner is subjective, journalists do it in order to provide a summary for those unable or unwilling to watch the debate.

Many national news organizations, including CNN, NBC News and The New York Times, claimed that Clinton won the debate with her preparation and attacks on Trump’s sexist insults and unreleased tax returns.

However, Trump insists that he defeated Clinton during the debate and went so far as to assert that the debate was fixed by moderator Lester Holt.

“I had to put up with the anchor and fight the anchor all the time on everything I said,” Trump told supporters at a New Hampshire rally. “What a rigged deal.”

Trump’s denial of Clinton’s impressive performance shows why declaring a winner of a presidential debate is useless. Regardless of how unprepared Trump may have seemed and how poised his opponent may have been, his supporters will continue to focus on Clinton’s apparent lack of trustworthiness.

Debate coverage dramatizes the event and embellishes the importance of declaring a winner. In reality, the two-party system polarizes the country, and voters watching the debates are unlikely to change their opinions based on the candidates’ performance.  When the candidates themselves deny debate results, supporters are likely to do so as well.

Debate coverage should focus on informing voters and describing the candidates’ opinions on key issues instead of treating the events like the Super Bowl.

Hurricanes, Adidas reveal new uniforms


The University of Miami and Adidas revealed Monday the new “Legend of the U” football uniforms, which will make their debut on Oct. 8 when the Hurricanes take on rival Florida State at Hard Rock Stadium.

The new uniforms resemble those of the Miami teams which dominated college football in the 1980s and 1990s.

The design was inspired in part by the hiring of new coach Mark Richt, who played quarterback for the Hurricanes in the early 1980s. The uniforms represent the program’s recognition of past success and optimistic outlook for the future.

While college football uniform unveilings generally receive minimal news media coverage, sports journalists went into a frenzy after seeing the “Legend of the U” uniforms.

Many national sports news organizations, including ESPN and Fox Sports, published articles raving about the new look for the Miami Hurricanes football team.screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-10-36-00-pm

The Hurricanes football program was not only a dominant force on the field in the 1980s, but also a polarizing figure in popular culture.

The Hurricanes popularized the term “swag” with their aggressive play and showy celebrations, but have been mostly irrelevant in college football for the past decade.

The positive response from sports news media to the uniform reveal is reflective of the excitement and optimism surrounding the Miami football program.

Along with Miami fans, sports journalists hope to see Miami echo the success of the glory days in the 1980s, when the teams were exciting both to watch on the field and cover off it.

Aleppo gaffe hinders Johnson campaign


In an election year with two major party candidates who have historically high disapproval ratings, Libertarian Gary Johnson sees an opportunity to send a third party to the White House.

As Johnson, who appeals particularly to young voters, has climbed to nearly 10 percent in national polls, the news media have been hesitant to give much attention to his campaign. Instead, news organizations have focused on issues that Americans are all too familiar with, such as Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and Donald Trump’s insults.

However, Johnson received a significant amount of coverage last week after an MSNBC interview during which he expressed his unfamiliarity with Aleppo, a war-torn Syrian city.screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-10-31-19-am

Johnson was chastised by several news organizations, including The New York Times, for his lack of foreign policy knowledge.

Criticism for the Aleppo gaffe was arguably the most attention the Johnson campaign has received from the news media.

The tendency of news organizations to focus coverage on the two major party candidates has made it difficult for the Johnson campaign to garner positive attention.

For Johnson, participation in the presidential debates would provide the perfect opportunity to receive good publicity and attract voters.

The Aleppo gaffe was a major setback for Johnson, who must average at least 15 percent in national polls to participate in the debates. With the first debate coming up on Sept. 26, Johnson must quickly recover from his error if he hopes to be a major contender come election day.

Hermine coverage embraces drama


When Hermine, the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005, swept across the southeastern United States last week, news organizations were quick to pounce on the story.

Journalists from all over the country were sent down to Florida to capture the classic hurricane images: waves crashing on coasts, heavy winds blowing palm trees and citizens kayaking through flooded streets.

While the dramatization of hurricanes is nothing new and is usually harmless, journalists must be careful not to misinform the public with exaggerated depictions of severe weather events.
ABC News tweeted a radar image just before Hermine made landfall last Thursday night showing tornado watches and warnings throughout Florida.

The graphic, albeit dramatic, is unclear and makes the viewer think that almost the entire state and the Gulf of Mexico is under siege by tornadoes.

This kind of fear-mongering journalism is unacceptable, especially for a national news organization as reputable as ABC.

ABC is not the only national news outlet that posted a click-bait tweet during a time of crisis. The New York Times tweeted an article just a few hours after Hermine made landfall stating that the increased frequency of hurricanes this season could be related to global warming.screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-25-09-am

While sea-level rise due to climate change makes coastal areas more vulnerable to storm surge flooding, scientific studies have not shown any correlation between climate change and the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones.

The New York Times could have waited until after Hermine dissipated to post the article, but instead decided to take advantage of some of the public’s worst fears in order to gain readers.

The purpose of news organizations during states of emergency is to calmly inform people of mortal danger based on scientific fact, not frighten the public with melodramatic stories and images.