The Mainstream Media May Be The Worst Enemy Of The Resistance

The hand-in-glove partnership between the mainstream media and the progressive “Resistance” may pay dividends in the midterms – but if so, it will likely also be their undoing in 2020

Here is CNN’s Don Lemon calling white men the greatest terrorist risk to the United States live on air last week – moments after sanctimoniously calling for an end to divisiveness or demonizing certain groups, and all without a hint of irony.

Don Lemon is not an Op-Ed contributor to CNN. He is not marketed as a fire-breathing Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham character; no, Don Lemon puts himself forward as a news anchor on a supposedly objective cable news network. And yet here he is, saying in the aftermath of the recent horrific mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh:

We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them. There is no travel ban on them. There is no ban – you know, they had the Muslim ban. There is no white guy ban. So what do we do about that?

This is the kind of social justice and identity politics bilge which just a few years ago was uttered only by screechy protesters on liberal arts college campuses as they protested about Halloween costumes or some other “genocidal” attack on their feelings. Yet now in 2018 these exact same sentiments, once the province of fringe lunatic academics in the pseudo-social sciences, now emerge from the mouth of one of America’s leading television news personalities.

Here is that same network’s star White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, goading the Trump administration with his sassy little take on the ability of the president to bring about sweeping constitutional changes to birthright citizenship by executive order:

 

You’ll note that no such tweets accompanied any of the sweeping Obama executive orders relating to immigration or any other matter, presumably because Acosta either agreed with them or just hadn’t read his pocket Constitution at that point.

And here is Jim Acosta again, tweeting the famous lines from the poem “The New Colossus” affixed to the Statue of Liberty, following a highly choreographed confrontation in the White House press briefing room last year in which the CNN White House Correspondent forgot for a moment that he is supposed to be a reporter and not a student activist:

 

Switching networks for a moment, here is the banner image recently used by the NBC news Twitter account – an image of the caravan of asylum seekers and economic migrants slowly working its way through Mexico toward the United States. This is about as firm a planting of one’s corporate or editorial flag in the sand as it is possible to make:

NBC news Twitter banner image - migrant caravan - journalistic bias

I am slowly giving up being angry at the way the mainstream and prestige media carry themselves like small- (and large-) D democratic heroes while utterly failing to cover the country on which they report with anything approaching objectivity, or make editorial decisions from any other perspective than that of the progressive elite. Now, my anger is giving way to fear.

If Democrats underperform in next week’s US midterm elections then it will largely be thanks to a huge negative assist from the establishment media, which has given an enormous motivational boost to conservatives of all stripes thanks to skewed and hyper-reactionary coverage of the very presidency their own greed for ratings helped to bring about. But this self-foot-shooting is actually the better scenario for the left and their media allies, compared to the alternative.

Though they don’t yet realize it, the nightmare scenario for the Left is that the love-in between the progressive “resistance” and the establishment media – a journalistic class which has been driven mad by Trump’s constant taunting into dropping their thin veneer of objectivity and revealing their true ideological colors –  actually works this midterm season, at a time when many conservatives and Trumpists do not show up to vote.

Why? Because a strong Democratic showing in the midterms will only encourage the prestige media in their collective mania, and lead to a doubling down on the various anti-conservative tactics – the bias, the gaslighting, the double standards and false equivalencies which mean most conservatives are forced to begin any argument proving they are not a Nazi while most progressives are allowed to commit the most egregious sins multiple times before their media halo begins to tarnish even slightly.

Two years of this unhinged and irresponsible reaction to the Trump presidency has succeeded in uniting even many Never Trump conservatives behind the administration and the GOP this midterm cycle. That may not be enough to prevent Democrats from making significant and encouraging gains in the midterms on Tuesday, but two more years of this behavior at an even greater level of intensity than we have thus far seen (and be assured: it will only get worse) may be all it takes to win Donald Trump a second term. You can bet that the president is counting on it.

Many nominal conservatives – myself included, though my political values are far from alignment with the Trumpian GOP – were almost as depressed by the victory of Donald Trump as were Democrats. Many felt that this was no longer a political party they recognized, or wanted to be associated with. But something odd happens when you realize that virtually the entire prestige US media has used the Trump presidency to jettison any remaining pretense of objectivity and openly plant their flag on the progressive side. Something odd happens when views which were entirely mainstream only a few years ago – views which were even espoused by darlings of the political Left – are now being used by leftist activists and sagely nodding network anchors to mark you out as a hate-filled extremist and enabler of fascism.

When that happens, suddenly the distasteful people on your side don’t seem quite so bad.  When that happens – and I’m not saying it’s necessarily right or praiseworthy – suddenly the idea of a president who can thwart and enrage your own political tormentors becomes a little bit more palatable. When that happens, in short, conservatives are more likely to hunker down, put their differences aside and march to the polling booths to re-elect Donald Trump as president of the United States.

And if that happens, given another mandate and with no more elections left to fight, the country will likely see what Trumpism can really do when it is unleashed and made angry by hysterical, partisan journalistic attacks – as if such attacks are even necessary given everything legitimately objectionable that the administration and the man are actually doing.

I don’t want that. I didn’t want Donald Trump to be president in 2016, and frustratingly I will become a US citizen a matter of days too late to vote for someone else in 2020. But just as I see governing elites stubbornly refusing to learn from the mistakes which brought the populist rebuffs of 2016 (good in the case of Brexit, much less so with Trump) now I see the journalistic class – who are very much part of that elite – almost engaging in a competition with the woke wing of the Democratic Party to see who can do more to usher in a Trump second term.

There will come a time, I am convinced, when we look back on the footage of Don Lemon slandering an entire ethnic group for being “dangerous” white males, Jim Acosta engaging in melodramatic activism in the White House briefing room and NBC News changing their Twitter image the way a tween might add a filter to her Snapchat and marvel that the supposedly serious, prestige media could ever have debased itself in such a way – and done so in a way which potentially wrought such harm on the country.

The problem is, if that day does not come before early 2019 then I don’t see there being sufficient time for a course correction prior to the 2020 general election. And currently there is zero sign of that epiphany dawning on the Don Lemons and Jim Acosta of this world, or their editors, or their paymasters. We are dealing with people who need to be smacked in the face with the consequences of their smug, self-satisfied, sanctimonious hectoring multiple times before the message sinks in – if at all.

And all of us must suffer for their selfish obstinacy.

 

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The Left Will Not Achieve Gun Reform By Using Divisive Culture War Tactics

Gun violence protests - NRA blood on your hands

Going on a moralistic crusade against the NRA and gun rights supporters may be cathartic for the Left, but folding the gun control debate into the ongoing toxic culture war only guarantees bitter polarisation and more deadly inaction

A worrying (but perhaps predictable) new development following the horrific Parkland school shooting has been a concerted effort by many on the anti-gun Left to fold the issue of gun rights and restrictions into the broader, toxic ongoing culture war, in which Americans hunker down within their respective ideological bunkers and instinctively assume the worst of those who disagree.

This trend reached depressing new heights last night during CNN’s town hall on gun control, held in Broward County, Florida, where the shooting took place. This was less a serious debate conducted in the spirit of seeking compromise than it was an inquisition, designed not to foster understanding or brainstorm solutions but rather to provide a cathartic opportunity for gun-control advocates to scream at gun rights supporters and accuse them of complicity in the mass murder of innocent schoolchildren.

Even if there were a shred of truth in these monstrous accusations – and there isn’t – it would remain absolutely terrible politics. Constantly fuming that the other side is selfish and evil only encourages alienation and division, a fact which was true when some Republicans implied that President Obama didn’t “love America” and which applies equally now when some Democrats imply that conservatives don’t care about murdered kids. And it really should be a cause of deep shame for CNN that President Trump of all people was able to moderate a calmer, more respectful and productive listening session on gun control at the White House than Jake Tapper, with all his experience, managed on live television.

(Of course, the US media being the uncritically self-regarding entity that it is, Tapper is receiving praise from all corners for permitting what was effectively open season on Republican senator Marco Rubio and NRA representative Dana Loesch while letting the political activist local sheriff whose department failed to take action against the killer before he struck completely off the hook).

The irony to all of this is that there have actually been some genuinely hopeful signs of movement from gun rights proponents after this latest shooting. Whether it is increased fatigue from even hardened gun-rights activists at witnessing the funerals of more young children or (perhaps more likely) the loud and insistent activism of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students themselves, concessions are now being mooted and offered on areas from bump stocks (though no such device was used in this particular shooting) to increased criminal background and mental health checks.

This much, however, was foreseeable. What seems to be new this time is that efforts are now underway to make gun rights supporters pariahs in the wider American culture and society. We see this most notably with swarms of activists on social media browbeating corporations into disassociating themselves with the National Rifle Association – and gunowners in general, by extension:

 

This, of course, is precisely the same tactic used by the illiberal leftist British organisation Stop Funding Hate, which channels the efforts of a few thousand shrill voices on Twitter to intimidate companies into pulling their advertisements from certain publications or certain publications from their places of business.

Stop Funding Hate has had great success in surgically removing the spines of various corporations in Britain and then bending them to conform to whatever happens to be their moral outrage of the week, nearly always involving the Daily Mail. One does not have to approve of the Daily Mail’s editorial positions or reporting standards to be concerned that leftist efforts to make the personal political are creating dozens of new wedge issues to divide British people from one another rather than uniting us around common values, and co-opting big business in their efforts to do so.

In America, it seems to corporate capitulations are going to be every bit as swift as they have been here in the United Kingdom, with car hire giant Enterprise Rent-A-Car swiftly terminating a deal with the NRA in which offered rental discounts to their members:

 

Note the specific language used here, too. The business relationship was between Enterprise and the NRA, so the spineless amoebas who run the company’s social media accounts could simply have said that they terminated their relationship with the NRA. But they went one step further and specifically pointed out that they were withdrawing their discount for “NRA members”, as though innocent NRA members (none of whom have ever committed one of these mass shootings) are themselves deserving of opprobrium and social sanction.

An intersectional social justice warrior might say that this has the effect of “othering” the large minority of Americans who own guns, but of course such terms are only conferred on designated victim groups, a label which conservative gun-owners will never attract. Those of us who do not wallow 24/7 in victimhood culture might simply point out that appearing to repudiate law-abiding NRA members

Are firms like Enterprise free to advertise or offer affinity partnerships with whatever organisations they please? Of course. Is it necessarily good business to allow a handful of Twitter activists to effectively dictate corporate strategy? It’s arguable, but I have very strong doubts. But is it good for the country for corporations to so clearly take sides on divisive social issues, coming perilously close to suggesting that those who hold more conservative views are effectively personae non gratae? I think it is unambiguously bad and counterproductive to do so.

We have already been through this dismal dance with the media. The mainstream, prestige media’s often soft but near-universal leftward bias on all issues did not have the desired effect of “reprogramming” conservatives into adopting progressive positions; rather, it simply forced conservative news consumers into the arms of right wing talk radio, Fox News and a slew of independent right-wing websites whose journalistic standards and commitment to objectivity are often questionable at best. And freed from the need to cater to that side of the market, the remaining prestige media has had every social and commercial incentive to pander to progressive dogma and groupthink to the extent that many journalists genuinely believe themselves to be objective while displaying degrees of selection bias and epistemic closure which beggar belief.

Has this division been good for American society? Who can argue that it has been anything other than a monumental failure? More than anything, this is what gave the country President Trump. When the legacy news outlets which generally still come closest to reporting objective truth make it plainly clearly that conservative ideas are unwelcome and will be treated with more scepticism than progressive ideas, the very idea of objectivity is poisoned.

Do we really want to replicate this polarisation across all aspects of American life? Do we want to live in a society where the car rental company you use, the airline you fly, the grocery store you shop at or the high-tech goods you buy become an expression of your stance on every hot-button social issue, a flag planted to declare your allegiance in the culture wars?

Nothing good can come of this. Nothing. Have conservatives historically shown far too little sense of urgency in proposing and implementing policy changes in an attempt to reduce the frequency and deadliness of mass shootings, or at least been content to see efforts stall so long as their rights were not threatened? Absolutely. But now they are actually coming to the table, the Left’s response cannot be to paint every gun-owning American as a pariah and refuse to frequent the same places of business.

The Left have a history of achieving social changes – often welcome, sometimes less so – and responding to these victories not with magnanimity toward the conservatives they routed but rather with an unbecoming, snarling vengefulness. It would be a real catastrophe if they now repeat this destructive behaviour as they fight for greater gun control.

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Barcelona, Donald Trump And The American Media’s Crisis Of Perspective

There is more to the horrific Barcelona terror attack than Donald Trump’s garbled response, but you wouldn’t know that if you are watching CNN

To get a good sense of just how debased and insular the American news media has become, one need only flick over to CNN and watch their coverage of the horrific Islamist terror attack which took place only hours ago in Barcelona.

What you will find is not detailed coverage of the Barcelona attack and how it transpired, or even the mindless banalities and speculation that has become the hallmark of cable news, but rather a bunch of talking heads agreeing with each other that Donald Trump’s response to the terror attack was all wrong.

This is the age where men, women and children being mown down in the middle of a European city street by a van-driving Islamist is secondary news to whatever inanities various celebrities have to say about the event on Twitter, or the word choice of an American president whom we already know to be rash, unstable and in loose command of the facts (at the best of times).

What really got CNN riled up on this occasion is this tweet by Donald Trump, promulgating an unfounded rumour about the supposed action taken by US Army General John Pershing in response to a Muslim-planned terrorist attack in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century:

The urban legend goes that General Pershing rounded up the culprits and suspects, and had them shot with bullets previously dipped in pigs’ blood. In Trump’s own graphic telling, Pershing shot 49 of the culprits and spared the 50th one so that he could go back and warn others in the movement about America’s swaggering zero-tolerance policy for terrorist shenanigans.

To be clear, there is zero proof that this apocryphal story actually took place, and that the President of the United States would make speeches presenting the tale as fact both during the election campaign and again in the immediate aftermath of an Islamist terror attack on an American ally is bad, wrong and depressing in equal measure.

But for most of the past hour on CNN, the chyron across the bottom of the screen hasn’t reported details of the terror attack, but rather Trump’s entirely typical and unsurprising blustering response to it. That’s not to say that Trump’s actions are unworthy of coverage – and we should certainly never allow ourselves to stop reporting on the president’s misdeeds and objecting to them just because they occur so regularly. But good television news is supposed to educate and inform, not simply encourage people to think myopically about global issues exclusively through the narrow lens of their own country’s political process.

Yet rather than presenting Trump’s dodgy urban myth about General Pershing as one tangential element of the story, CNN did what CNN does best – assemble a multitude of talking heads in boxes, all crammed onto the screen at the same time, to denounce Trump and slot an inconvenient story about terrorist murder in Barcelona into their preferred narrative about Trump’s unfitness for office.

Again – the point is entirely valid, and in an ideal world the President of the United States would neither spread unfounded rumours nor seek to get the more distasteful portions of his base excited by telling them yarns about shooting Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. That would be nice. But this is not the main takeaway from the Barcelona terror attack, and yet both Jake Tapper and now Anderson Cooper seem to be leading with it, to the detriment of telling the more important story about the seemingly unstoppable wave of vehicular Islamist terrorism in Europe and the inability (or unwillingness) of political leaders to take any meaningful action to prevent such massacres.

Meanwhile, television news in Britain – itself hardly a fitting successor to the likes of Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite – is at least reporting the facts and broadcasting footage and eyewitness statements as they emerge. Decent analysis remains beyond them (or at least beyond their willingness to pay a knowledgeable panel of experts and commentators to schlep into the studio) but at least they aren’t using the tragedy as a means of bashing Prime Minister Theresa May. Yet.

If American political discourse is to improve, restraint has to happen both ways. Just as conservatives need to come to terms with the fact that the Alt-Right is an issue in our own back yard which we must disown and work to discredit, so those on the Left – including much of the mainstream media – need to bring some balance back to their coverage and accept that important as the office of President of the United States is, Donald Trump’s reactions are not always the most important part of a breaking news story.

This de-escalation should not be so hard to achieve among adults, but sadly there are too many adult children on both sides who would rather have the last word and advance their political agenda at all costs, even if it debases the office of the presidency, diminishes trust in the media and rips the country apart at the seams, all at the same time.

Donald Trump - Barcelona terror attack - General Pershing rumour

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Television News Royalty Receive A Dressing-Down From Donald Trump

Apparently the first post-election meeting between president-elect Donald Trump and the great and the good of America’s television news media did not go entirely smoothly.

The New York Post reports:

Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sitdown on Monday, sources told The Post.

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said.

“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

A second source confirmed the fireworks.

“The meeting took place in a big board room and there were about 30 or 40 people, including the big news anchors from all the networks,” the other source said.

“Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He addressed everyone in the room calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars,” the source said.

“Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about an NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary lost who hosted a debate – which was Martha Raddatz who was also in the room.”

The stunned reporters tried to get a word in edgewise to discuss access to a Trump Administration.

Wait, and we’re supposed to feel sorry for them?

The pampered Washington television news aristocracy deserve absolutely no sympathy, and while I would much rather they received their dressing down from somebody more worthy of dispensing it than Donald Trump, I can only be glad that the shining ones from CNN and MSNBC were hauled over the coals and made to feel a little bad by somebody.

It was their greed, incompetence, fawning deference to power/celebrity and desperate search for ratings that brought us president-elect Trump in the first place. If CBS’s Les Moonves hadn’t slobbered at the thought of the ratings his network could get just from playing endless rambling footage from Trump rallies during the Republican primaries, if CNN hadn’t been so obsessed with their technical gizmos and determined to report on the presidential debates as though they were heavyweight boxing matches, if MSNBC wasn’t so blatantly in the pocket of the Clinton campaign, then we might not be in this position right now. But they did, and so here we are.

And consequently, Jeff Zucker, Wolf Blitzer, Martha Raddatz, George Stephanopoulos, everyone at CNN and MSNBC and most of the people at FOX (save Chris Wallace, who anchored by far the best of the three presidential debates) fully deserved to receive the hairdryer treatment from somebody (as in being yelled at and belittled, not having their ridiculous TV news hairdos volumized even further).

We need a media that will stand up to power and celebrity and ask difficult questions rather than allowing candidates to trot out rehearsed soundbites, not a bunch of slavish court reporters who instantly switched from curtseying around House Clinton to making an unseemly pilgrimage to Trump Tower to ingratiate themselves with their new overlord.

Like many people, I am gravely concerned about Donald Trump’s attitude toward the media (both in terms of press freedom and the access which his administration is willing to give journalists), but one still has to smile at the likes of Wolf Blitzer being sent packing from Trump Tower with a flea in their ear.

Apparently it is the turn of the print media tomorrow. As a group, they didn’t fall asleep on the job quite as badly as the television guys, but many of them deserve a roasting too. This should be fun to watch.

 

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The Greatest Threat To American Democracy Is The Sensationalist, Ratings-Obsessed Television News Media

It took two monsters to create Donald Trump, Presidential Candidate Edition: the debased Republican Party of Sarah Palin, and the slavish, contemptible American television news media

After getting heartily sick of watching the British rolling news channels the past few weeks, I decided to spend the last couple of days watching CNN (the US version, not the godawful international version).

It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was almost enough to make one long for the BBC’s barely concealed hysteria at the thought of Brexit and being forcibly ripped apart from their beloved supranational European political union, or Sky’s never-ending quest to be the first news organisation to get their newscopter hovering directly above anything which may or may not turn out to be of interest.

Take today as an example.

For the past four hours, CNN has been reporting the “breaking news” that Donald Trump claims that his campaign has “never been more united” when various Republican talking heads that CNN was able to lure into the studio were willing to say the exact opposite – and hardly surprising, since their presidential candidate is is a proudly ignorant egomaniac with a borderline personality disorder.

This couldn’t even be charitably described as “breaking news” when I first tuned in at around 8PM London time, and it certainly isn’t breaking news four hours later. But still, there it is: “Awaiting Trump Rally In Florida” proclaims the banner, while five disembodied talking heads float on a giant screen behind Wolf Blitzer, waiting to air their opinions.

What you notice watching American news – besides the constant advertisements for dubious pharmaceutical products whose long lists of compulsorily recited side-effects often outweigh their curative properties – is the degree to which everything, and I do mean everything, is about Donald Trump.

(At this point it is worth pointing out to uninitiated British readers that CNN is the closest you’ll get to “objective” cable news reporting in America, with fair ‘n balanced Fox News skewing firmly to the right and MSNBC leaning forward equally firmly left. Not being overt partisan shills for one or other of America’s two main political parties is a nightmare for CNN executives who need high ratings, and so in desperation CNN latches on to every single technical gimmick you can imagine – drone cameras! holograms! – in a desperate bid to make their offering more exciting to fickle viewers).

It is fair to say that were it not for the American television news media, Donald Trump would be filming a new season of The Apprentice and lending his name to another shoddily-made range of “luxury” businesswear right now, rather than facing Hillary Clinton as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

This blog has already raked the GOP over the coals for their pitiful part in these dismal proceedings. But in despairing at the intellectually and morally debased Republican Party we should not let the media off the hook.

For the fact is that America’s news networks failed to fulfil their democratic duty by treating a presidential election like it was sweeps week rather than a serious decision with long-term consequences for the future of the republic. Donald Trump makes a great television candidate because he is willing to do and say things – exciting, attention grabbing things – which no other candidate will say. Unfortunately, this nearly always involves Donald Trump being rude, immature, spiteful or wrong about something or someone. But the news networks don’t care. It makes for great TV. And so they show more and more Trump, and less and less of everyone else.

When the Republican Primary campaign was still being fought, at one point we reached the ludicrous position where Senator Marco Rubio made the tactical decision to emulate Donald Trump’s style and start making gratuitously offensive insults and statements of his own, just to try to wrest the attention of the television cameras away from Donald Trump for one wretched moment. Needless to say, it backfired – Rubio could never match Trump’s ability to mock and belittle people, and so he ended up tarnishing his own reputation while doing nothing to halt Trump’s rise.

Donald Trump - Ratings Machine - CBS - Les Moonves - CNN - Television News

My point, I suppose, is this.

There is nothing funny or entertaining about this American presidential election. Voters are faced with a rather dismal choice between a far from universally loved Democratic Party candidate on the one hand and an absolute megalomaniac on the other. And they have been put into this position of not having a decent choice between two valid, honourable but competing political philosophies largely thanks to the decision of the television networks last year to break into their regularly scheduled programming every time Donald Trump raised an eyebrow, while giving the other Republican candidates (let’s face it, many of whom were so hopeless that they really needed a media leg-up of their own) almost zero screen time.

The other candidates had to drop what they were doing and go to Washington or New York if they wanted to be featured on the Sunday shows. Trump was permitted to appear by satellite link or even telephone, so eager were American news executives for a bit of Trump’s verbal gold. And whenever Donald Trump has been interviewed, the questions have frequently been of the most depressingly softball variety. America does not have a Jeremy Paxman figure, or even an Evan Davis (God help them). Nor do they have as strong a tradition of confrontational political interviews as we have in Britain – the tradition of deference to authority is, rather counter-intuitively, very strong in America. And so during all of his unearned media time, Donald Trump has very rarely been faced with a single question which caused him to stumble, despite his lengthy back catalogue of cruel and ignorant public pronouncements. Rarer still has Trump faced a searching follow-up question when he replies with one of his repetitious, opaque defensive statements.

All of which makes Amy Goodman’s excoriation of the American news media very true, and rather refreshing:

The media manufactures consent – for war, for candidates in elections, by bringing you more, for example, of one person. Like Donald Trump. He is pumped into everyone’s home. He can just stay in a gold gilded mansion in New York or one of them in Florida. The rest of the candidates trudge from one state to another. Why does he get this unfiltered pipeline into everyone’s brain, into your eyes and to your consciousness?

It matters. The Tyndall Center did a report in 2015, they looked at the whole year, and they found Donald Trump got 23 times the coverage of, say, Bernie Sanders. They found ABC World News Tonight did something like 81 minutes on Donald Trump and I think they gave Bernie Sanders 20 seconds.

[.] In this high-tech digital age, with high-definition television, digital radio, all we get is static, that veil of distortion and lies and misrepresentations and half truths that obscure reality, when what we need the media to give us is the dictionary definition of static. Criticism. Opposition. Unwanted interference. We need a media that covers power, not covers for power. We need a media that is the fourth estate, not for the state. And we need a media which covers the movements that create static and make history.

Obviously Goodman’s interest was promoting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders (the video was made several months ago before he officially dropped out of the Democratic primary contest), but her critique of the wildly excessive time and attention lavished on Donald Trump by the television news media is dead accurate.

As a Brexit campaigner during the EU referendum, representing an organisation (The Leave Alliance) which was the only group to actually offer a comprehensive Brexit plan yet struggled to get any meaningful media attention, all of these same criticisms apply to the British media too. It’s nice to know that these problems are universally felt on either side of the Atlantic, I guess.

As a small campaign organisation it was almost impossible to get our word out when the television news was racing to cover every last syllable which dribbled from the mouth of Boris Johnson, while our own esteemed experts – including one of Britain’s foremost authorities on the EU – struggled to get journalists to show up to a launch event right in their own Westminster back yard.

Nobody expects perfection from the media. Media companies have to pay the bills too, and often keep shareholders happy. But for so long as telegenic ignoramuses dictate television (and print) coverage to the extent that they do, our democracy will remain vulnerable to demagogues like Donald Trump.

On election night in America, we will see (as we always do) the great and the good of American TV journalism pat themselves on the back and endlessly congratulate themselves about the moving spectacle of democracy which they are helping to transmit to a grateful nation. Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, Wolf Blitzer, Diane Sawyer, Lester Holt, Dana Bash, Joe Scarborough, Shepard Smith, Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, Greta van Susteren, Andrea Mitchell and all the rest of them will be churning out platitudes about the beauty of democracy faster than you can stick knitting needles in your ears.

This year, they might consider dwelling on the role they have played in debasing and jeopardising that democracy in the tawdry pursuit of ratings.

 

Donald Trump - Make America Great Again

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