2020 Election News Coverage Provides False Perception

Tommy McCosky
4 min readNov 9, 2020


With the 2020 election upon us, Americans have their attention turned to the news for status of the election. The night of November 3rd was a rollercoaster ride for both parties, especially as votes were being counted in swing states. I switched back and forth through multiple news sources like FOX, CNN, and NBC and also used online sources like the Associated Press, which was the source that Google used for their electoral map. As info continued to be announced and votes were continued to be counted, big media outlets started to, subtly, play favorites. Throughout the election, mainstream media showed bias, some more than others, about the results which can negatively impact people’s perception on how the election is going.

To start off, prior to having any ballots counted, mainstream media sources had pictures of the two candidates next to their electoral count and the selection of images they used had a deeper meaning than just a picture. Media sources like FOX and CNN used a picture of Democrat candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden with him smiling and happy as can be which made him portrayed as a very nice guy, while they used a picture of Republican candidate and current President Donald Trump with a more serious expression on him which portrayed him as unhappy and somewhat hostile. This selection of images was used to portray Joe Biden more favorably than Trump.

As the night progressed and the ballots were being counted, the media was not afraid to show bias on declaring which states Joe Biden won. Throughout the night when they determined which candidate won which state, President Trump only won states that he was winning by a large margin, while Joe Biden won states before they were done counting votes or if he passed Trump in some close states by the smallest of percentages. As soon as Illinois’ polls closed, the Associated Press already declared that Joe Biden won the state even though only 3 counties were finished counting and only 28% of Illinois’ votes were counted. This also happened in states like New York and California. Another similar issue like this happened in Wisconsin and Michigan. During entire night on election day, President Trump was winning Wisconsin and Michigan by a decent margin and most of their votes were counted by the end of the night. However, early in the morning on the next day, Joe Biden received thousands of votes which put him slightly ahead of President Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin, and as soon as he got ahead of him, multiple news sources declared him the winner of those two states. Both of these examples tried to make Trump look bad and to make Joe Biden look like he is going to win, even though all these media outlets “jumped the gun” on determining that Joe Biden won most of the states he did.

After all of this and four days after election day, mainstream media declared that Joe Biden won the election. Headlines saying that Biden won and Trump lost spread across the world just like the coronavirus. This just didn’t change people’s perceptions, it convinced a lot of people that Joe Biden won. Not only did mainstream media declare Joe Biden the winner, Joe Biden already gave his victory speech later that day. Now while it may be true that Joe Biden won, any source of media, whether it be mainstream or 3rd party, doesn’t have the authority to determine who won the election. Same goes for Joe Biden himself. There are three main factors that determine who won the election. The first being that each state has to certify their votes on who won the state. The second is that the electoral college needs to certify their winner, which they have until December 12 to make their decision. Finally, the third is that the other candidate must concede the election. All three of these factors must happen to determine the winner and the media is not involved with determining any of these.

In my opinion, the media sources I consumed on election night and many others were biased towards Joe Biden. This caused people’s perception on the election to change and for some, their perceptions of the candidates to change. News media has always supposed to be neutral and fact based. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but when the media is showing their opinion on subjects especially important matters like the election, which they use to sway people’s opinions to match theirs, is an area they shouldn’t be entering. Yes news sources can have opinion pieces, but when that mixes into the fact based side, bias begins to show in an area that should be unbiased. If this continues, then the news media is nothing more than propaganda. Instead, people can consume what the news is saying, but rather than just following what they say, create their own opinion which makes you more educated.