Elections and Media

A look at the various media used to reach and inform voters during elections -- as well as the impact of new media and media ownership on elections.

At Last A Beginning

At last it’s happening—a growing national discussion about how America’s news and information “industry” is failing to nourish our civic dialogue. It should be something we expect the candidates to discuss—and take a stand on—as the 2020 election campaigns ramp up.

Divided House passes election security legislation over Republican objections

A divided House passed an election security bill to strengthen the nation’s voting systems, with Democrats arguing that protecting the nation from another attack like the one Russia waged in 2016 was imperative.

Supreme Court puts census citizenship question on hold

The Supreme Court on put on hold the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form sent to every household, saying it had provided a “contrived” reason for wanting the information. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the splintered opinion. In a section agreed with by the court’s liberals, he said the Commerce Department must provide a clearer explanation. Agencies must offer “genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public,” Roberts wrote.

Can Democrats Win Back the Internet in the Age of Trump?

As the curtain rises on the 2020 election, some Democrats worry their party is not doing enough to adapt their campaigns to modern habits, clinging instead to a naive hope that internet discourse will somehow fix itself, or that the tactics from the previous campaigns will somehow overcome the baser human instincts that gave rise to Donald Trump. A decade after Barack Obama’s campaign was heralded for its digital savvy around data and email marketing, Trump-era conservatives are now the ascendant political force of the networked internet.

President Trump's shock factor wears off, causing a slump for big media

The shock factor around President Donald Trump's unplanned announcements, staff departures, taunting tweets and erratic behavior is wearing off, and media companies are scrambling to find their next big moneymaker.  Executives say that Trump fatigue is very real: Interest in political coverage overall is down, which is spurring investments in other beats, like technology and the global economy. Executives say they expect this week’s debate ratings to be nothing like the ratings for the 2016 Trump debates.

Google's systems didn't see Beto O'Rourke's ads as political

Google has been treating Beto O'Rourke's campaign ads as if they weren’t political content, raising questions over whether Google is capable of keeping its already anemic promise of transparency for political ads. Google has promised to put ads it receives from candidates for US federal political offices in its political ad archive, for transparency’s sake. But the Beto ads were missing from the archive. Google’s own rules don’t allow any political content in Gmail ads, but Beto’s campaign ads kept showing up there.

Disclaiming responsibility: How platforms deadlocked the Federal Election Commission's efforts to regulate digital political advertising

Digital advertisements used to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election lacked disclaimers stating who paid for them. This was deliberate on the part of the platforms: Facebook and Google actively sought exemptions from mandatory disclaimer requirements that are standard for print and broadcast media.

Big tech threats: Making sense of the backlash against online platforms

A growing tech-skeptic chorus is drawing attention to the ways in which information technology disrupts democracy. No country is immune. With a better understanding of the principles undergirding both foreign and domestic responses to the threats posed by big tech, each subsequent section in this paper will lay out the specific dimensions of the political and economic problems that have arisen in the digital age, the policy responses and proposals pursued abroad, and the ideas guiding debate in the US.

FEC approves free cybersecurity for campaigns despite influence concerns

The Federal Election Commission gave the go-ahead to a nonprofit organization seeking to offer free cybersecurity services to political campaigns, upending rules that typically consider such free services illegal campaign contributions. The FEC’s reasoning, in a nutshell, was that it ordinarily bans such services due to the possibility people might try to cash in on political favors later. But in this case, the risk of Russian and Chinese hackers running roughshod over the 2020 elections is far worse.

Republicans make alleged conservative bias top priority at election security hearing

Google, Facebook, and Twitter executives came to Capitol Hill to testify about election security. Instead, they faced a grilling about whether their platforms are biased against conservatives. A string of Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee skipped questions about how the companies were tackling disinformation campaigns or preventing Russians from purchasing political ads on their platforms in the run-up to the 2020 election.