How Media Coverage of Political Campaigns in Harris County, Texas Impacts Public Opinion

Learn how media coverage of political campaigns in Harris County, Texas impacts public opinion. Understand how your opinions are being shaped by media outlets.

How Media Coverage of Political Campaigns in Harris County, Texas Impacts Public Opinion

The media landscape is ever-evolving, and citizens now have access to a wide variety of instantaneous news sources. From print journalism to radio coverage, broadcast television, cable television, and the Internet, blogs, and social networks - applications or web platforms that allow users to communicate with each other in real-time - citizens have access to a wealth of information. The Internet also allows citizens to start a public debate by uploading images and videos for viewing, such as videos that document interactions between citizens and the police. In the current political climate of aggression, strong emotion, and division, it can be difficult for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to draw attention without directly addressing the base about issues that matter to them.

This is where media coverage comes in. FOX News provides political commentary and news from a conservative perspective, while the Daily Kos website offers a liberal viewpoint on news. Representatives from Paxton's office will also be present in Harris County to answer any legal questions raised by inspectors, election observers, and others, according to a Tuesday night letter sent to Harris County elections administrator Clifford Tatum and obtained by Houston Public Media. Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar, who is running for his third term, has taken increasingly bold steps in recent weeks. He has challenged financial companies that he believes are against oil and gas and threatened budgetary sanctions against Harris County for police funding.

Hegar grew up in the Houston area and earned a degree in journalism from the University of Texas before working as a sports journalist in Austin, Lubbock, Odessa, and St. Louis. Biased coverage of campaigns dates back to the era of partisan press but has become more visible with the proliferation of cable news stations. Both a lawyer from the Texas Civil Rights Project based in Austin and a political science professor at Rice University who has long studied elections in the Houston area described this measure as unprecedented, politically partisan, and potentially an attempt to delay voting processes and undermine voter confidence in the results. Both Slattery and Stein said state officials continue to focus on Harris County which has become Democratic during recent election cycles in a state long controlled by Republicans. However, some observers of the political landscape in Texas say that Hegar - who previously served in the state House of Representatives and Senate - appears to be shoring up those ranks either to avoid a weak performance in November or to bolster his support for a future candidacy for higher office.

A day after his threat to Harris County, Hegar banned 10 financial firms from doing business with the state after claiming they “boycott or do not publicly support the oil and gas industry” and are thus subject to state divestment laws that prohibit state investment in those companies. When writers or publications make it clear to readers or viewers that information only represents one side of the political debate, it is considered open content. Hegar also said that most inspectors are former county election officials so they have the ability to detect errors before they occur and ensure appropriate chain of custody protocols and laws of the Texas Election Code are followed. The Center for American Women in Politics investigates how women are treated by both government and media outlets and shares this data with the public. Bob Stein - the aforementioned Rice University professor - acknowledged Harris County's issues during the primary but said that state oversight during general elections is not warranted. Media coverage of political campaigns can have a significant impact on public opinion. It is important for citizens to be aware of how their opinions are being shaped by media outlets so they can make informed decisions when it comes time to vote.

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