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On June 27 2019 Andrew Yang supporters across the nation tuned in to finally
see how the candidate would perform in the first Democratic debates of the election
cycle. Yang had arisen from obscurity primarily through podcasts where he had
the opportunity to sit down with interviewers from all over the political
spectrum and systematically win them over with his data-driven approach to
identifying problems and proposing solutions. Struggling to break through
into mainstream media, Yang and his supporters were thoroughly excited for the
platform and the opportunity that debates would provide. So Yang took the
stage along with goliaths such as Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.
The Yang campaign had drawn in enough support that his polling had placed him
within the core six of the ten podiums earning a spot right next to Pete Buttigeig.
Yang and his supporters thought it was truly his time to shine. But as the
debate went on, Yang supporters hearts' sunk further and further as Yang's
presence stayed consistently unnoticeable. By the end of the debate
Yang had only been asked two direct questions lower than any other candidate
despite polling better than half of them. Michael Bennett for example got over
twice as many questions despite polling at less than one-third
the rate of Yang. Yang supporters were absolutely livid with this poor and
unfair moderation by MSNBC. But MSNBC wasn't the only one getting blame.
Supporters were questioning their candidate himself and whether he was
truly cut out for politics. Sure, MSNBC wasn't giving him a fair
share of the platform but this is the election of the President of the United
States, a position requires some sense of assertiveness, moxie, spine. Of course a
president needs to be level-headed and respectful as well, but surely Yang could
have found an opportunity to insert himself into the conversation happening
around him. Anyone who has followed his campaign
knew that there were plenty of conversations being had on the stage
that he could have added value to. MSNBC was not giving Yang a fair chance,
but he was not showing strength or rising to the occasion to overcome such
unbalanced moderation. But then at an after party following the debates Andrew
Yang had this to say:
Yang supporters dropped their blame of Yang
and sifted through debate footage for evidence of Yang being silenced.
and found one particular clip
that seemed to align with Yang's claims
In this clip, Yang clearly raises his hand and tries to interject and his
voice is clearly not being projected through the microphone. Supporters of Yang have
had frustrations with MSNBC raising to a boil for months preceding the debates,
which we will get to shortly, and this clip convinced many what they had long
suspected: that MSNBC was actively trying to hinder the yang campaign. However,
critics of this narrative pointed out that in the same clip Kirsten
Gillibrand's voice starts off quieter and once the moderator clarifies that
Gillibrand has the floor her voice projection clearly increases.
Let's watch the clip one more time, this time focusing on Gillibrand
So MSNBC was undoubtedly lowering microphones while certain candidates
were speaking, and this in and of itself is not controversial. It makes complete
sense for moderators to have control over whose mics are currently projecting
so that each person can make their points without obstruction. Giving the
moderators this power makes sense when used in the pursuit of civil discourse and
making sure that all the candidates on a crowded stage get relatively equal
opportunities to speak. However the moderators didn't once give Yang the
floor in an interjection despite his efforts to do so. Critics have argued
that in this case Gillibrand was clearly more assertive
and was rewarded the floor accordingly. But isn't whole point of controlling
mics that it hinders candidates from using brute force to insert themselves?
Yang clearly raised his hand and voiced his desire for an interjection. Shouldn't
the moderators have noticed that Yang was getting very little speaking time
and that maybe they should give the floor to him over Gillibrand? Again, they
asked him a mere two direct questions over the course of the debate and not once
did they deem it necessary to let him voice an interjection despite him trying
to do so during discussions of climate change education and other subjects.
Following the mic controversy an NBC spokesperson made the following
statement, and I quote "At no point during the debate was
any candidates microphone turned off or muted." End quote. They didn't make any
attempts to discuss the nuances behind giving moderators control over
candidates microphones. As stated earlier this wasn't the first time that
the Yang campaign felt slighted by MSNBC and so the supporters already were going
into the debates with a hypersensitivity to the networks actions. Multiple graphics
on multiple programs across the network consistently omitted Yang as a
presidential candidate despite his emergence as a serious contender
outpolling most other candidates in the race. Programs on the network would
continually add new Democratic contenders to their graphics but
continue to omit Yang despite starting his campaign earlier the most and
polling better than most. It reached a point that in early June
Ryan Saavedra of The Daily Wire and FAIR Media Watch the National progressive
media watchdog group that challenges corporate media bias, spin and
misinformation, ended up calling out MSNBC for the omission of yang from their
graphics despite being tied for eighth place in the race
Joseph Kenny, a twitter user, responded to these tweets reminding everybody that
MSNBC had been aware of these issues since April with MSNBC's Joy Reid
responding to a complaint and reassuring that going forward the graphics would be
more accurate and inclusive.
Perhaps the most egregious example of omission occurred in this graphic on the
left titled "Showdown in the South" referencing the first debates in Miami.
20 candidates made the debates there are 20 images on the graphic, none of which
are Andrew Yang. If you look in the third row second to the left you'll see Seth
Moulton a candidate who didn't qualify for the debates. After enough complaints
from supporters the graphic was updated as you'll see on the right with Moulton
being replaced with a poorly lit image of Yang. There have also been instances
where Yang makes it onto the graphic but then he's the only candidate on the
graphic to not be verbally discussed.
This is the reporting that has slowly accumulated over the course of 2019 in
front of Yang supporters' eyes. then Yang was given less direct questions than any
other candidate and he wasn't given a single interjection
despite the moderators ability to lower microphone volume in the pursuit of
equal speaking time. What one does with this information is up to them. The worst
case scenario is that MSNBC is actively trying to hinder the young campaign. The
best-case scenario is that MSNBC is thoroughly inept at reporting on this
election and all of its components accurately. Either way they have proven
themselves to be an untrustworthy source of information. The day following the
debates NBC posted the following video titled "Kevin O'Leary: Why UBI won't work"
Kevin O'Leary is a successful businessman known for his work on the
NBC show Shark Tank and UBI is of course Yang's signature policy
proposal. UBI is a complex policy with kinks to iron out if it is to be
successful, and there are plenty of valid criticisms and questions to pose on the
subject. However, NBC decided to try and undermine
the policy with a two-minute personal anecdote from an out-of-touch 64 year
old multimillionaire.
If you would like to hear a meaningful and nuanced discussion on the subject of
universal basic income backed up with data, studies and common sense, I
suggest you spend an hour or two listening to one of the many podcasts Yang has been on to
have engaging and inspiring conversations on the policy. Despite the
whole debacle Yang is ranked number four in regards to gained Twitter followers
after the debates. His UBI policy proposal is the most viewed official
debate clip on YouTube. He is one of only seven candidates who
has gained enough individual donors to qualify for the third debate in
September as well as the second debate in July. As the field shrinks, Yang will
remain. If he wants to win the nomination though he will have to prove that he is
strong enough and stoic enough to take on Donald Trump and if media wants to
keep the public's trust they will have to start reporting on this campaign
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Analysis of Andrew Yang's Controversy with MSNBC

47 Folder Collection
王惟惟 published on September 14, 2019
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