The forces of He, Trump conspired to tear apart a piece of Chicago, last night. Never mind that Trump has spent months and months stoking up his crazed supporters to be just this violent-somehow in the minds of many Americans it is the media's fault. Which is how we get such brilliant tidbits of local wisdom like this:
yeah, it's Chicago. Thug City
Not that the Democrats would instigate anything. Chicago politics. A Rahm & BHO special.
If the MSM can inflame it they will.
The media gave rise to Donald Trump simply because he's interesting. The news media have been forced into a 24 hour news cycle that needs to entertain as much or more than provide information. It’s all about ratings and advertising… Nothing better than a cat fight no??
It's an interesting point of view and I am quite sure the writers of those phrases have gotten a lot of mileage out of trite little sentences like those. At a minimum, it makes them feel better and it gives them someone to blame. There is just one major problem.
That point of view is 100 percent wrong.
It's wrong for a bunch of reasons and when one gives voice to it, they are showing a real lack of understanding of how news works in the 21st Century. It also shows a complete disregard for the history of journalism and how we got here to where we are today. As I said, its really a convenient dodge to avoid having to admit the truth. Namely, that it was people just like themselves that gave rise to Trump and the sooner they accept responsibility for that societal failure, the better off the rest of us will be. To borrow a phrase from 2012-you built this.
There is no Main Stream Media. Let me repeat that for the learning impaired, THERE IS NO MAIN STREAM MEDIA and there has not been for about 20 years. The term main stream media is just plain flawed. Lets replace it with a more accurate terms. 1) News outlets, 2) crossover outlets and 3) opinion outlets. The marketplace of news expanded and enabled by the internet, is an immensely diverse place. Its more like a giant COSTCO. You can get anything in this market. Its up to you the shopper to make intelligent choices. Or not so intelligent choices. Each news product being sold or posted has its strengths and its weaknesses. Some outlets have quality. Many do not.
Since the dawn of the television age there have been three developments that have forever destroyed the idea of a monolithic news media, liberally biased. The first major development was the tearing down of the "firewall" that existed between News directorates and the corporate end of the broadcasting business. Now in the 50's and 60's there were a limited number of channels and there was a clear division between news and entertainment. The three broadcast networks did news because they understood that as custodians of publicly granted airwaves they owed a public service. Also too-there was still a great number of news reporters who had cut their teeth in print and radio and were committed to a certain set of journalistic standards. Even then there were outliers such as Hearst Papers, but they were few and far between and public opinion combined with a lawsuit or two could usually put them in their place. The key element of journalism, on the whole, in the period from the 50's to the end of the 70's was the recognition of the idea that producing quality reporting was end to itself-regardless of cost. The quality of the story was what mattered, not the company bottom line or the audience level which, it was assumed would come if you produced a quality product.
This viewpoint began dying in the late 70's and the sickness spread in the 80's due to a number of reasons. One was the deregulation fever that swept the country under Reagan. The number of broadcast outlets increased as cable came online. A key development was the beginning of 24 hour cable news, which meant that speed to the screen became one of the key benchmarks by which is news outlet was judged. It had been that way earlier in TV, however technology, prior to the 80's had kind of acted as an "editor" if you will. The time lag also allowed real editors to correct misinformation and get copy right. All that went out the window in the age of CNN.
The final nail in the journalistic coffin was the advent of the internet, smartphones and the world wide web. The latter gave rise to blogs and to social media. Suddenly, anyone could be a reporter or an opinion maker. Special training in the skills of writing and editing were no longer required.Coupled with that development was the creation of a news network that was "news" in name only. Its real mission, as Jon Stewart later pointed out to his audience and anyone else who would listen, was to be a 24 hour a day propaganda delivery system. Thus the "crossover" outlet was created. A network whose business model was to lure advertisers, and to espouse a particular point of view. After a shaky start in 1996, the network took off in the administration of George Bush and pretty much left the "news" part of the business behind. Because Fox was successful from a money standpoint, other networks like MSNBC followed their business model.
One other point about technology. Smartphones and social media meant that people took in their news in smaller and smaller chunks. The goal for many outlets was click bait. Reading for content became to many Americans, something they no longer had time for-or they were no longer smart enough to do. Another ugly development in the early 2000's was the advent of news fabricators like Andrew Breitbart. Now it was acceptable to make up the news if it did not meet the criteria of what one wished to report.
By the end of 2010 the whole mess had become a sad shadow of the journalistic world Edward R. Murrow had created.
So what does all of this have to do with the advent of Trump?
I'm glad you asked. While it is true that the quality of journalism has declined due to technology and the rise of a certain category of fact free blogs, mostly on the conservative side-but also on the left, and it has created a less discerning electorate; it would be wrong to cite that as a reason for Trump's rise to demagogic heights. The role of certain media outlets is merely a symptom of a much bigger disease.
First of all, the "blame it on the media" crowd ignores the reality of the Trump phenomenon. Like it or not-the fact that Trump has been able to make the hideous statements that he has made-and pay no political price for it at the ballot box- is news. And this turn of events has long term implications for the American political system. The news outlets have an obligation to report it. Some outlets do it well and a lot of others do it poorly. Some fan
like Fox the flames.
But the news media is not the ones making Trump successful. They don't have that power. Only voters do and when they vote for Trump they are squandering that power in a manner the Republican party has been fostering for a very long time. A very specific subset of the American people created Trump and they have no one to blame but themselves. They laid the foundations of Trump's no nothing beliefs back during the Bush administration with the "dissent is treason" lines regarding opposition to the Iraq war. They amplified in 2008 when many of them behaved like thugs at Sarah Palin's rallies and not one person in a leadership position stood up to brand it as the criminality it was.
From that point in time, it just went careening over a cliff. As John Cole pointed out in a rebuke to a National Review
worthless piece of shit columnist Charles Cooke:
Either they are too stupid to recognize it, or they don’t want to take the blame, or some combination of both, but they built Trump. It was decades of these stupid mother fuckers shouting about Obama being a secret Muslim or Hillary murdered Vince Foster and Dan Burton shooting a fucking watermelon to prove it to another melon based theory about Mexicans having calves the size of cantaloupes and women wanting to abort babies for shits and giggles and sending rock salt to Olympia Snowe and claiming there is no global climate change because LOOK RIGHT FUCKING HERE I HAVE A SNOWBALL IN FEBRUARY or convincing America that welfare and food stamps only go to young bucks buying t-bone steaks or welfare queens with big screen tv’s or that public transportation is totalitarianism or that the main cost cutting technique of health care reform will be Death Panels or that prison makes you gay or that man and dinosaurs lived together in harmony or that women can magically abort pregnancies created by rape or that scientists are genetically creating human/mice superbrains or that agribusiness is using aborted fetuses in soda or that if gay people marry pretty soon people will be marrying dogs or that Presidents Lincoln and Washington used electronic surveillance and actually writing, promoting, and believing a fucking book that said liberalism is fascism and running this person as a Vice Presidential candidate to claiming with no scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.
My bad. That last one is a Democrat. Fuck you, Robert Kennedy, you fucking stain on our party and your family name.
But that list is real. I didn’t make any of it up. And that’s just a list of things they BELIEVE IN, and not a comprehensive list of the stupid shit they’ve actually done or the vile things they have said. That’s just too depressing to actually tabulate.
That, despite its profanity ( which I actually think helps make the point), is a pretty good summary of the descent of the modern GOP into madness over the last 20 years. And again, these points would never have gotten as much traction as they did, had there not been fertile ground to plant the seed in. The seeds of anti-intellectualism found purchase because a great many people stopped learning.
I am always amazed, that for people who claim to love the free market so much, conservatives never understand this particular reality. If the stupidities put forth by outlets like Fox News, the reprehensible dregs of the Liars Club-assholes like the not so dearly departed Breitbart, John Hinderaker, William Jacobson,
worthless whore Michelle Malkin and the rest were not well received by a large audience, they would stop publishing them. If one or two of them actually got nailed in a multi-million dollar lawsuit ( as the estate of Breitbart has) it might make them think twice. One has only to read the slime that passes for their comment sections to know that is not the case. The media, with the exception of Fox is biased towards sensationalism and scandal-but it is the consumer ( yes that is you) who makes that possible. A large number of people have joined the anti-intellectual bandwagon that the GOP has used to propel itself to electoral victories in areas where stupid people tend to thrive.
Could the "media" be better as a whole? Sure it can-but it does not have to be now because it's doing perfectly fine in the garbage pit that is American electoral discourse. That doesn't mean there are not quality news outlets still out there-but one has to be diligent about finding them. And few Americans these days seem to have the knowledge or abilities to do so.
What about MSNBC or Daily Kos? It happens on the left too!
When someone says that, I know they have no real curiosity whatsoever. The facts just don't support the statement. Only one party is jumping like lemmings over the side of a cliff:
Yes, both parties have become more polarized, but one more than the other. Republicans are more conservative than they have been in over 100 years, have fewer moderates than Democrats, and have changed more, political science research shows — and it’s only getting worse.
While 54 percent of Republicans told Pew last month that their party’s leaders in Washington should be more conservative, most Democrats — 57 percent — say their leaders should be more moderate. Just 35 percent of Democrats say the party should be more liberal.
“While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post,” Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed on congressional dysfunction titled “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.”
The current GOP is now well to the right of George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and even Richard Nixon.
Blaming the "media" is not just cop out by the folks who do it, it is a failure of people to accept responsibilities for their own actions. We The People-we created Trump by not participating in our democracy and by not being more selective in our choice of elected officials. In the aggregate, The United States of America has a selfish and ill-informed electorate that makes bad choices. And the results are on display this year for all the world to see.
The media didn't do it.
As the news industry evolves toward a new era, we could do far worse than looking to Ed Murrow again for guidance. Murrow believed that "to be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." The hard fact is that truth doesn't come tailor-made for any one ideology or political party. More examples of independence and character might be what it takes for the news industry to again be trusted as the honest brokers of American politics.
Tomorrow: How to be a better news consumer like me.