Demagogues Depend On A Compliant Media

We have all been amazed at how seldom the media fact check what is said by politicians. Validation is not a priority and there is little price to be paid by decieving the public since our politics are now fully emersed in a sea of alternate realities. When one candidate can “call up any show, anytime, and count on being put on the air because he brought the eyeballs” then that show is no more a source of news than your local carnival. Is there any way to redeem our news media, or is it merely another victim of history like the covered wagon, leaving us to find our own way through the very muck it’s slow demise is creating?

The article below by Monika Bauerlein was found in the Jan-Feb 2017 issue of Mother Jones magazine where she examines “How Trump Played the Media” but more importantly, why it is possible and what we can/should do about it. She says “Demagogues rely on (a compliant media) to legitimize their lies and give their bombast a veneer of respectability.” The 2016 election cycle showed us that facts, reality itself, have been demoted far below ratings and the almighty dollar. We are presented with a show: funny, dramatic, volatile, sometimes even violent. We are encoraged to select our favorite character (good or bad, after all it’s only a show), like a gamepiece in the old boardgame “Clue”. I’m Mr. Green, the murderer and I am proud of it. It doesn’t really matter and sadly many Americans seem to think the same of our democracy. But it is not a game and does matter.

Bauerlein says “that the business model for media in the United States is broken; that if we’re going to have the kind of journalism that democracy requires, we’re going to need different ways of paying for it; and that critical among those will be reader support in many different forms”. Free, “entertainment at all cost” journalism is not working. She asks us all to “invest in … hard-hitting investigative reporting”. She gives a blunt summary of where journalism is today and then follows that saying “We need an alternative – and we need it now.”

Yes, “The business model is broken when it comes to ensuring the kind of journalism democracy requires” and here are her 5 basic starting points to begin to change that:

  1. We’ll need media that doesn’t have to bargain for access or worry about backlash.
  2. We’ll need media that isn’t dependent on giving bigots a platform.
  3. We’ll need media that doesn’t sell out its own for political ends.
  4. We’ll need reporters who can chase after what is shaping up to be cronyism and corruption of epic proportions, and who can stand up to the intimidation that is bound to ensue.
  5. We’ll need a business model that—to circle all the way back to Les Moonves—isn’t dependent on pumping up the eyeballs at any cost.

I definitely agree with Bauerlein. We need a change. We need journalistic control of our press/news to be independent of power structures in our increasingly oligarchic society. This will be very difficult, but as more and more citizens realize how important it is, we will at least be fighting the right fight. Read the entire article below.

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