We have met the enemy, and he is us.
On the Sunday shows Chief of Staff, Reince Preibus doubled down on the president’s rant that the press is the “enemy of the American people.” The alarmists out this tactic as the first sign of an authoritarian government. Some call it fascist.
Trouble is, the “news” programming we are subjected to each day truly is fake. Journalism died the day Ted Turner founded CNN in 1980. Don Henley recorded “Dirty Laundry” in 1982 as the spin cycle tried to take him down. O.J. Simpson’s slow speed getaway and resultant televised spectacle of a trial hammered the nail in the coffin of infotainment disguised as journalism.
Whatever the date it began, the 24-hour news cycle is spending all of its time dumbing us all down. Turn it on and immediately you lose eight IQ points. Apparently Trump leaves it on as background noise, which explains a lot.
At the Melbourne, Florida rally dedicated to the adulation of Trump he so desperately needed after a month of setbacks and scandals, he cited a story that had him panicking his campaign crowd about a terrorist attack in Sweden. He heard it on Fox News, the premier purveyor of propagandist disinformation.
He obviously didn’t understand what he was watching, which was an alarmist report on all the crime in Sweden since it took in the refugee stream from American-supported Middle East wars. The facts are that Sweden has only recorded a tiny increase in crime despite its compassionate, inclusive response to the refugee crisis. It was fake news, but he passed it along as nonchalantly as any other lie he tells.
The media that passes as news is 24-hour speculation comedy of errors laced with only a few segments of each hour based on actual journalism. I once watched an hour of cable news that had Pat Buchanan commenting on some international crisis and then turned to him to weigh in on a story about a lost boy scout. He was the go-to guy on that piece and his expertise on the missing boy scout was insightful, if not embarrassing for him. Maybe the kid wandered off with a girl scout to eat cookies? I think they found the boy scout, not inside the belly of a grizzly bear, but Pat Buchanan lost all credibility as did the network he was working. At least with me.
America just endured a two year period of speculation on the election campaign that was wrong at all levels. If you spent time watching the endless talking heads postulating on an election that was years away, you wasted your life. None of it meant a thing. It wasn’t news at all, let alone fake news. It was 24-hour speculation.
It gave us President Donald Trump.
The same networks Trump trashes for trashing him were his best tool then. None of the networks could turn away from the spectacle of Trump. He used it by spouting ever more weirdness to assure he was always the center of attention. CNN would run entire Trump speeches and ignore serious candidates. He was handed, without charge, billions of dollars of free media time. The media were/are tools.
Americans, inured with the media culture it consumes daily, took notice. It was drawn to his narcissistic personality due to America’s own narcissistic tendencies. America is a self-absorbed culture. Americans know more about what sports star knelt for the National Anthem than what happened in Afghanistan today. I would postulate that our troops dying without an acknowledgement in the press or a clue as to who they were are much more important than a silent protest from a sports star.
Which would you define as true patriotism? Caring about the troops who gave all for the principles written into the Constitution, or fuming over disrespect to a symbol? It’s a song. It’s a flag. The Constitution itself is a piece of hemp paper. These brave men didn’t die for these symbols. They gave their lives for the ideas of freedom embodied in that paper called the Constitution.
Trump is Kim Kardashian’s butt. He is Caitlyn Jenner’s identity confusion, Michael Jackson’s insecurity and death, BradJolina’s divorce. We marvel at celebrities and know all of their quirks and, most importantly, controversies. We are a self-absorbed nation and it has become America’s Achilles heel. The media is our addiction and we run it into our veins like a skid row heroin addict. Nothing of importance matters in our celebrity worshiping culture. We know nothing of the outside world because we only care about ourselves. We are the most ignorant nation on earth.
If polled, the amount of today’s passionate protestors that voted in the mid-terms that gave them the leaders they now abhor would be minuscule. Sitting home in 2014 instead of voting gave America republican gains in the senate, the house, and state governor offices. Democracy is a participation sport. You get what you didn’t care enough to vote for, or against. You get the government you deserve.
The news media is now angry for being called the enemy. It’s as if it doesn’t realize that it is the reason we have Donald Trump. It gave him the podium for his rise. He gamed the media because it is a whore for ratings. The ratings the media covets drove it to promote this surreal result. It is now horrified at its creation and is finally fact-checking him and investigating his actions. The press has become the enemy of Trump as it finally does its job to find the truth about him. Lap dogs no more and now a threat to his presidency.
Trump is definitely having a positive effect on our democracy, though it may be too late as he artfully sets up the first step to an authoritarian government.
The media actually is the enemy of the people only because the people are their own worst enemy. Our narcissism is Trump’s. When we watch at him, we watch our own media-obsessed culture explode in our faces.
When Trump says the media is the “enemy of the people” it is only because Trump is the media. He should know.
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