By the Democrats and Republicans….
An apt description of the current American media landscape, and it’s consumers
Thirty years ago, there was such a thing as “the media.” The daily paper was dropped on everyone’s doorstep in the morning. When dad came home from work, he’d switch on the television and watch the nightly news on one of the big three networks while waiting for dinner
Social media platforms proliferate this practice. Many people today get a substantial portion of their news exclusively from social media, specifically Facebook. Everyone “likes,” “shares,” and “favorites” those articles expressing points of view they agree with. Social media platforms exist to make money from keeping people’s eyeballs on their sites, so they respond by giving the viewer more of the same, reinforcing existing preconceptions even more.
Prior to the internet, market forces worked as a pretty good check and balance. If a network or newspaper went too far astray, it lost viewers to one of its competitors, which eventually pulled it back to the middle. With the fracturing of the market into micro-targeted segments, that centering function is gone. Now viewers just leave to one of a thousand information sources each trying to generate inflammatory clickbait headlines. Whereas once the choice between news sources was Wheaties or Cheerios, today the traditional news media is trying to sell Wheaties while some of its digital competitors market Oreo cookies, and others are selling straight crystal meth.
As long as the media in this country remains free, which it should, it’s the responsibility of every informed person to eat his Wheaties. If you’re a citizen who considers yourself informed, whether liberal or conservative, you need to have a foundation of general news from an established news source, e.g., an organization that has actual reporters with bureaus in major cities or that at least uses major news wires like Reuters or McClatchy, not just a sketchy aggregator site. Only after that should you rely on opinion-oriented sites or sites with well-established angles on the news. You’ve got to eat a balanced meal before you eat dessert. Feed your mind nothing but garbage and it will become fat and lazy.
And as far as educating yourself, do yourself a favor and follow some that run counter to your own inclinations. Follow both Mother Jones and National Review, Fox News and MSNBC. It’s not only a good way to fact check both sides, but it will also serve to remind you that the other ideological side isn’t trying to destroy America. Most of either side sincerely wants the best for this country. They just happen to have a different perspective than you. Too many people dig into their ideological fighting holes and consume media only to throw derogatory news grenades at the other side.
Finally, for the love of all that’s holy, stop clicking on conspiracy-theory sites. You’re just feeding their cancer on society with your traffic and shares. You should know them when you see them. Gaudy banner headlines and words like “REVEALED!” and “EXPOSED!” in all caps should ring alarm bells in your mind.
Blaming the news media at large for the state of today’s civil discourse and polarization is like blaming Taco Bell for the obesity epidemic. Sure they could do more to help, but really they’re just giving the people what they want.
The solution lies in each and every one of us — stop consuming junk media before it consumes us all.
The business model of the mainstream media, is to foment argument between the ‘Left’ and the ‘Right’ [as if there are only two perspectives], in order to entice the majority of viewers who parse their politics only in terms of Left/Right….to raise revenue. Are we too far down the rabbit hole to change the course of our media?
From the Foundation for Economic Education, off the beaten path of duopoly-serving think tanks……a treatise on the political theater that so many Americans willingly sacrifice their intellect, integrity and honor.
Giving Undue Credit
First, whenever we say “The President should do more of X,” we are ceding the ground that could be covered by Congress or, even more appropriately, by ourselves. Nothing is more absurd than when people praise or scold the President for the price of gasoline, something which he has almost no control over (and should not have control over). One could go on for days with other examples. President Reagan didn’t “cut taxes,” Congress wrote a bill which they then sent to him to sign. President Clinton didn’t “create jobs,” private citizens created, bought, and sold goods and services which generated the need for labor and thus the need to hire people. President Obama didn’t bring marriage equality, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of it. By crediting Presidents with these things, we not only act as if we live in an absolute monarchy, we act like it’s a good thing!
All Power to the President
Second, building up the President encourages servile thinking. It’s a way of buying into the cult of personality while pretending to reject the sales pitch. When we panic about a certain candidate winning the White House and all the awful things he or she plans to do, we’re admitting that we as a nation would simply go along with it, that no acts of congressional or private disobedience would stem the tide of executive power. Coming from a nation whose founding was based on separating from a monarchy, this realization is especially sad. It should serve as a sobering reminder that a part of every person desires a personal dictator to do the things he or she personally agrees with – without the pesky “obstructions” of argument and opposition.
“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.” – Trump supporter ‘Omarosa’
Interesting position given that Trump has provably lied more times than Clinton, even with her atrocious e-mail scandal.
GOP voters….this is the hell you have wrought.
During election season, in particular, I think we many times forget who the true enemies are, which is only part of the reason why I have, for the most part, refused to blog election politics this year. This year, more than usual, the rancor has reached fevered pitch, and I want to remind us who the real enemies are.
OUR FELLOW AMERICANS ARE NOT THE FUCKING ENEMY! Hillary Clinton in one of the primary season debates claimed that Republicans were the enemy she was most proud of. Not kidding. She basically said she was proud of the fact that half the country was her enemy. Unbelievable! So much for being the President for all Americans. Basket of deplorables? Really? There are definitely Trump supporters – the class (or lack thereof) I call Trumpanzees – who are classless, bigoted fucks, but really, Hills? Half of those who support your admittedly odious…
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A couple of days ago, Gary Johnson appeared on Morning Joe and stumbled badly when Mile Barnacle asked him what he would do about Aleppo, if he were President. He muffed it.
However……the next day, he outright owned his lack of answer. Owned it. Class.
Compare that with the catalog of lies, conspiracies and Twitter trolling from Donald J.Trump or the obfuscation and feigned ignorance from Hillary Rodham Clinton.
P.S. It could also be argued that the question was a gotcha, especially in light of Scarborough’s response. The U.S. doesn’t have a policy position on Aleppo. We have a policy position on Syria. The media’s business model is interrupted by any success of a third party
If you’re running for president, you should not be allowed to use a teleprompter. – Donald Trump, August 2015
‘He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely,‘ Trump said in a half-hour-long phone interview with CNBC, citing ‘the way he removed our troops’ from Iraq in 2011: ‘He shouldn’t have gotten out the way he got out. It was a disaster what he did.’
Obviously fallacy…to the point of absurdity, to include the tired canard of Obama being responsible for US forces withdrawal from Iraq. In an interview on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, Trump was given a gold plated opportunity to retract or revise his lie:
Trump was asked by host Hugh Hewitt about the comments Trump made Wednesday night in Florida, and Hewitt said he understood Trump to mean “that he (Obama) created the vacuum, he lost the peace.”Trump objected.“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS,” Trump said. “I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”Hewitt pushed back again, saying that Obama is “not sympathetic” to ISIS and “hates” and is “trying to kill them.”“I don’t care,” Trump said, according to a show transcript. “He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that that was the founding of ISIS, okay?”
‘We had a president who decided he would announce a date, and he was gonna get out by that date. The problem is, the enemy, which really turned out to be ISIS, the enemy was sitting back and actually didn’t believe that this could be happening,’
‘I’m a truth-teller,’ he added. ‘All I do is tell the truth, and if at the end of 90 days I’ve fallen short … it’s okay.
The most prolific nanny-stater on the Left utters the following incredulous words at the Democratic national Circus”
“We can only solve our biggest problems if we come together and embrace the freedoms that our Founding Fathers established right here in Philadelphia,” – Michael Bloomberg