Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The death of media and the rise of Trump

Most media in the US is no longer occupied by journalists, who make an effort to find facts and inform the public.  Rather, it is personalities who are driven to entertain to get ratings and advertising dollars.  This info-tainment industry has narratives that it wants to tell us, rather than simply reporting on the facts.  Hence, we hear little about Bernie Sanders, a relentless drum beat of negativity about non-existent Hilary Clinton scandals, and an effort to create a Presidential race between Clinton and Jeb! even though Jeb! has generated no enthusiasm and puts his silver foot in his mouth  regularly. 

But now there's the Donald. The media loves a circus, so Trump is sucking up all the energy in the Republican race, and has torn off the polite pretense that the  tea partiers are something other than fearful white racists. 

Writing in the Washington Monthly, Nancy Tourneau points out that this is the triumph of "epistemic closure", which is the cross-linked echo chamber of conservative media that tells them what they want to hear.
The entire basis for the existence of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News is the belief that the “mainstream media” cannot be trusted to tell the truth because they are all “liberals.” This fed something that we as human beings already tend to do anyway - reject information that doesn’t conform to our already-established beliefs. ...

The disastrous results of epistemic closure for conservatives have been on display for some time now. It explains how they continue to deny the science of climate change, assume that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is “cooking the books” on unemployment data and led to a whole movement during the 2012 election to unskew the polls. But for everyone from Murdoch to GOP leaders, it worked to keep the base angry and engaged.
The problem is, now, that "they" can't control it.  A focus group with Trump supporters shows that all they can express is an anger at the system and Trump's ramblings perfectly express it. He says what they are thinking, and isn't that a horrible thought.
For these participants, the Republican establishment (and perhaps even Fox News itself) have now joined the liberal New York Times in peddling a politically motivated conspiracy when they challenge Donald Trump. That should come as no surprise when these same people have been told for years that they can pick and chose their facts based on how they make you feel. Stephen Colbert was positively prophetic when he coined the term “truthiness.” And now it’s all coming back to haunt the GOP.
And the rest of us too.  A few days ago:
Police in Boston say that one of two brothers who allegedly beat a homeless Hispanic man cited Trump’s message on immigration as a motivation for their attack. “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” Scott Leader, 38, told officers, according to a police report cited by The Boston Globe.
 God help us.


Kevin K said...

I think that both the Sanders and Trump campaigns tap into a similar discontent with the political parties and their power structure by substantial minorities in the GOP and the Democrats.

JCF said...

Except that Sanders and his supporters have genuince common purpose; Trump is ONLY for Trump (seeing his supporters as useful idiots).

Kevin K said...

While I am not a Sanders supporter I do believe that he is sincere. What you say may be true about Trump. His campaign does seem to be more of an ego thing for him.