CSU prof takes on the wild campaign season at Alumni College: About Town event

CSU prof takes on the wild campaign season at Alumni College: About Town event Image
CSU prof takes on the wild campaign season at Alumni College: About Town event October 15, 2016

It's image over issues this presidential election, said CSU professor Dr. Ed Horowitz.

When Donald Trump appeared on The Tonight Show in mid-September and let Jimmy Fallon tousle his golden locks, he finally answered a burning question among the American people: Is he wearing a wig?  His hair, it turns out, actually is real.

Such are the drivers of the current presidential election, where the seemingly inane bests legitimate policy and image takes precedent over issues, said Dr. Ed Horowitz, CSU associate professor of communication. 

Horowitz was the featured presenter at the latest installment of the CSU Alumni Association’s popular Alumni College: About Town series, this time focusing on the wild ride of the year’s campaign season and the media’s role in influencing the electorate.

“We hope that when we think about elections, we’re deciding on issues,” he said.

“Where does Hillary stand on ISIS? Where does Donald Trump stand on ISIS? Which one would be better at keeping me safe?”

Instead, Horowitz said that in order to succeed, candidates these days “need good teeth.  They need clever sound bites.  They have to have a softness to them that they can show on late-night TV.”

In other words, they need a polished image along with a well-crafted narrative that resonates with the public.

And the media only serves to galvanize either supporters or detractors.

Stalwart Trump devotees are unmoved by his “locker room talk” and the media’s persistence in covering it, Horowitz said.  Likewise, Clinton’s email and Benghazi scandals do little to sway her proponents.

Even fact-checking engines like the Tampa Bay Times’ Politifact are fairly inconsequential.

“True believers don’t care about fact checks,” Horowitz said.

And while some claim the media holds an inherent liberal bias, Horowitz countered with a completely different argument.

“It’s not a liberal bias; it’s not a conservative bias,” he said. “It’s a bias for ratings and money.”


The Alumni College: About Town series is a program of the CSU Alumni Association, featuring CSU faculty exploring issues of local, national and international relevance.