The Politics of Disaster: A Multimedia Analysis

Two weeks before a crucial election, you would think nothing can demand more media coverage than politics. Then came an unprecedented and monumental hurricane that has devastated the northeast United States and rocked this entire country. Now, the election has become a secondary concern compared to the thousands without homes, the millions without electricity or gas, and the families who have lost lives. However, there will be a presidential election nonetheless and this hurricane has had an effect on both candidates. For Obama, campaigning took a backseat to his presidential duties in helping a storm ravaged coast lick it’s wounds. For Mitt Romney, a crucial week of campaigning was also cancelled at the risk of looking insensitive to voters during a time of suffering. Karl Rove believes hurricane Sandy helped Obama politically, allowing him to look partisan and act “presidential” while stealing away the spotlight from Romney. However, others think this disaster did little to help Obama in the polls, considering the northeast is already devoutly democrat and Obama simply strengthened his hold. Let’s take a look at how some of the nation’s most prominent media outlets evaluate the politics of hurricane Sandy.


As you can see by the video, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX all had very different interpretations of what hurricane Sandy meant to this election. CNN, notorious for being very bipartisan, chose to analyze how the hurricane affected the popular and electoral votes, but did not prefer one candidate over the other. CNN only gave the straight facts.

FOX news, widely known as being very right wing, attacked the president and the job he has been doing managing the hurricane aftermath. I personally felt sorry for the one liberal at the table who the other four constantly attacked whenever he tried to defend the president. It seems to me that FOX is so right wing that even if the president does something good they will not give him credit. Their coverage seemed so unnecessarily cruel it was almost pathetic. They attacked the president on the littlest most insignificant things such as the testimonials of looters. It seems they are determined to perpetuate their hatred of the president no matter what.

MSNBC coverage was no less bipartisan than FOX’s. They attacked Romney on having a “Hurricane Relief Rally” while the president was dealing with the aftermath of Sandy. However, my own political bias aside, their criticisms seemed more reasonable. They weren’t as nit-picky as FOX considering that it did seem disingenuous of Romney to hold a rally for his own political gain during a disaster.

the various screen shots peppered into the video depict various newspaper and blog headlines about hurricane Sandy’s influence on the election. I pulled multiple New York Times articles, articles from The Detroit Free Press, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, a White House blog called “The Hill”, and the International Business Times. Each of them gave their own slant on who benefitted politically from the hurricane. However, a majority of articles I read, bipartisan or not, saw Obama as the beneficiary of the hurricane, especially the New York Times.

In short, even during times of disaster and heartbreak, media conglomerates stick to their agenda’s. FOX still found a way to make Obama look bad for a natural disaster and MSNBC still was critical of Romney during a time of suffering in our country. Politics simply never change.



About Matthew Speiser

I'm a 25-year old writer living in Manhattan

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