Some flunkey at CNN tracked down an anonymous internet user on Reddit, who created the viral GIF of Trump bodyslamming a CNN logo, then extorted an apology out of him, and threatened this private citizen with releasing his personal information if he ever said something that CNN didn't like. In our polarized political climate, broadcasting his personal details is tantamount to painting a target over his home. Perhaps the next Leftist mass shooter would target this guy, all for making a meme criticizing the media.
It is disgusting for the big media to target the little guy over such a petty offense (remember that the media views your use of free speech as subversive toward their goal of total thought control).
But how are we supposed to stop this from happening again? Destroying the media enemy requires a cold hard look at how they operate, what their source of power is, and what our power is that can counteract that. This will downplay the importance of launching another meme war against CNN (or MSNBC or whoever), and instead shift the focus toward the need to break up the monopolies that control the media.
The fundamental mistake that most of the anti-media guerrilla warriors make is assuming that the media survives by its reputation for fairness and trustworthiness, with the implication that bringing them down means dropping nuclear bombs on their reputation, so that everyone will think they are biased and "fake news".
The reality is that the American people already do not trust the media at all. The General Social Survey shows that trust in the press has been declining for 40 years. The data begin in the early 1970s, and after a brief small boost from their coverage of Watergate, peaking in 1976, trust has fallen off a cliff. This trend is most pronounced among younger audiences, who the media covet the most because that's the audience that advertisers are in search of, and advertisers pay the bills for the media.
Yet despite the media having lower and lower support from the public, they have escalated their propaganda warfare against anyone they feel to threaten their power -- whether someone in government like Trump (and ignoring Bill or Hillary Clinton), or a private citizen with no power like the creator of that GIF (and ignoring nobodies who make GIFs against Fox News).
It is plain to see that the media do not derive their power from being trusted by the audience, otherwise all of them would have gone out of business decades ago. Damaging their reputation by pointing out that they are biased lying propagandists will make the public trust them even less, but that is not going to solve the problem.
The true source of the media's power is their control over the flow of information -- obtaining it from sources (or making those sources up), and spreading it out into the public space -- or preventing it from seeing the light of day. That is what makes the media the media. It's like how control over the legitimate use of force is what gives the police or the military their power in society.
What has made the media stronger is the creation of entire media empires out of the smaller and medium-sized outfits from the old days. Today there are only five corporations that control the media, down from 53 corporations in the early 1980s (and even that state of affairs prompted critics like Ben Bagdikian to label it "the media monopoly," as it was down from the hundreds of local outfits from decades earlier).
These mergers and acquisitions have concentrated and centralized the control over the flow of information into the hands of a few, giving them propaganda powers that the little guy cannot reliably counteract. The little guy's only hope is if someone in the big media promote his cause, like Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity running a story on his national TV show. But the American people should not have to rely on big media patrons to defend them -- they should be free from big media harassment in the first place. We're citizens of a democracy, not peasants relying on protection from our feudal lords.
The gigantic scale of these media empires has driven their wealth through the roof as well, as the advertisers are now buying access to a massive audience through a channel like CNN. If CNN were broken up into 10 smaller channels, each one would get a fraction of the ad revenue that the monopoly version does, and they would have nowhere near the wealth to hire armies of killer lawyers to defend the corporation's anti-democratic power and advance its anti-democratic interests. Small channels would not be able to buy off politicians through lobbyists so easily either.
So that is what we must attack -- the concentration of all that control over information flow into just five gigantic corporations. Smaller media companies are less wealthy and powerful, and therefore pose less of a threat to the little guy and to our democracy.
We cannot simply "create alternatives" with the big media still left in place, let alone growing even bigger through more and more mergers. By breaking up each of the Big Five into, say, 10 apiece, it would be much easier for an alternative like Daily Caller or Infowars or The Young Turks to compete against the propagandists and win over audiences. And breaking them up so that their audience size was one-tenth what it used to be, would instantly drain them of most of their ad revenue, unlike a threatened boycott of a channel's advertisers (too iffy, too protracted).
We could get more creative and limit the geographical range of a corporation from the Big Five -- similar to how the AT&T national monopoly was broken up into smaller regional companies in 1984 (the "Baby Bells"). CNN would not be allowed to operate with a national or international command and control structure -- they would have separate CEOs and executive producers for each of, say, 10 regional markets that were made to be similar in audience size. Ad buys would go separately through each of these 10 baby CNNs.
Or maybe we let CNN stay one whole corporation, but limit its size to just one of 10 equal-sized regional markets -- say the Mid-Atlantic -- and nobody outside of that region ever sees CNN. And even then it would have competitors within the region, so it wouldn't be a regional monopoly.
Of course these baby media companies could still cover national news -- they just wouldn't have national-level control over the flow of information about those nationally important topics.
Back in 2016, the best we could do against the media was troll them, attacking their credibility and trustworthiness. But now it's 2017, and our guy Donald Trump is no longer just some Twitter troll -- he's the President of the United States. He has theoretically vast influence over the media monopolies, since antitrust action comes from the Department of Justice, which is part of the Executive branch that he controls, via his faithful Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who would not be recusing himself here since media monopolization is a separate matter from election conspiracy theories).
The American people want hard swift action against the biased media, who they have not trusted for decades. We will not be satisfied with just some further damage to their reputation. We must change the structural conditions that give them such anti-democratic power and wealth that they use not only against the little guy, but now in concert with the Deep State to overthrow the government. Sedition is not free speech.
The Antitrust Division of the DoJ must begin to break up the Big Five media empires and make it easier for conservative, nationalist, and populist companies to grow and thrive in their place -- whether that's Infowars on the Right or The Young Turks on the Left.
If any cuckservative in the GOP starts whining, Trump and Sessions (and Bannon and Miller) should hold up Reagan's breaking up of the AT&T monopoly in 1984 into the regional Baby Bells. Today's antitrust actions against the media would not have to follow in their details, just in spirit. If that spirit was good enough for the peak year of Reaganism, it is damn well good enough for the inaugural year of Trump.
Nobody in the GOP, the Trump movement, or the White House owes anything to the media -- they are a power group that controls the Democrat Party, not the Republican Party. The Trump movement was fought every step of the way by the big media, and now they are threatening ordinary private citizens who criticize them. There would be major upside, and absolutely zero downside -- what would they do in retaliation, give us negative coverage?
GSS variables: conpress, year, age
"The American people want hard swift action against the biased media, who they have not trusted for decades. We will not be satisfied with just some further damage to their reputation. We must change the structural conditions that give them such anti-democratic power and wealth that they use not only against the little guy..."ReplyDelete
Strike while the iron is hot; the conditions are ripe. The outrage over the CNN targeting, just coming off the Scalise/Republican shooting...the Nader/Bernie wing, well, their suspicion of corporate power is being overwhelmingly confirmed. The Free Market Republican wing who are the hardest to convert just saw Rand Paul, Jeff Flake, et al., shot at and the corporate media yawned.
Your point about Reagan: beautiful.
Related, but not about tactics; just an observation. I do notice that some in the Nader wing, like Greenwald, feel sorry for some of these journalists: powerless guys getting caught up or even exploited by mammoth $$$ corporations.
I *do* have some sympathy for this point of view. No doubt there are people who are like Sharyl Atkinson who try to fight or middling people who get corrupted but are capable of redemption.
But I urge caution, too. Lotta these people were promoted because they fit a certain personality type: they're kind of demented. True believers who have a sort-of abusive spousal relationship with the American public: condescending to the "well-behaved", humiliation and desire to crush those who are out of line. And their zealotry! A bunch of witch hunters.
The Hillary's Health episode captured this dynamic so well, but right now, I'd point to the Healthcare fight. The MSM is writing articles about how the Democrats and the #Resistance will save the day on healthcare. If you are a liberal with a 2-digit IQ, this propaganda might be a-okay. Otherwise, it's condescending. There *is* nothing about California and what is going wrong out there *right now*. It's not like Single Payer flamed-out out there two years ago, it's happening now, yet it doesn't exist in the MSM! Why is it going wrong in an *overwhelmingly* Democratic state? You'll have to go to alternative news like The Intercept, Counterpunch, etc. for analysis.
It's worth pointing out to sympathetic Lefties that their party is controlled by Wall Street and the corporate media. They've grown increasingly aware of it, especially during/after Obama, and now looking forward to one or another candidate who is a puppet of Wall Street (Hillary the return, Cory Booker, etc.).ReplyDelete
They've always styled themselves as the party that is not beholden to any power group, unlike the Republicans being controlled by the Pentagon, oil companies, pharma, and so on.
But by now the cognitive dissonance is too much to bear, and they're admitting how embarrassing it is that the Democrats are the Wall Street / Corporate Media party.
Democrats being the anti-media critics is a relic of the pre-Clinton years. The rise of talk radio, Fox News, etc., made them defend CNN, NYT, etc., in order to avoid guilt by association ("I'm not one of those anti-media people who listens to Rush Limbaugh 24 hours a day...").
Now the media is so biased and fake, that they're indefensible for normal people. Only real fanatic hacks are going to white-knight for MSNBC.
well said. I will have to come here more often.ReplyDelete
Monopolization of mass media has increased steadily over the last 40 years. But it wouldn't surprise me if the influence of "the media" goes in 10 year cycles, correlating with periods of conservatism vs. liberalism(high defense spending, vs. low defense spending). Corporate was more powerful in the 2010s, '90s, '70s. Media was less powerful, and more ignored by the public, during the '80s and '60s(and will decrease in power over the next ten years).ReplyDelete
In the 2000s, a conservative decade, George. W. often ignored the media completely, and got away with murder with his various scandals. The media gave him witheringly negative coverage, but he still won reelection. There was huge controversy involving Dan Rather, and the rise of Fox News cut into CNNs ratings.
In the 90s, a liberal decade, the media grew more powerful.
In the '80s, a conservative decade, Reagan, like George W., was uneffected by very negative media coverage("The Teflon president").
On the other hand, during the 70s, a liberal decade, Richard Nixon was run out of office by negative media coverage(I'm not saying he didn't deserve to resign, but the point is that the negative media coverage effected events).
Yeah. This last election made me think of a lot of a more toxic version of "Bush vs Gore". In both cases, the Dem Convention was more of a coronation for one...coupled with winning the popular vote but not the electoral vote. The ironic thing is that realists had more hope in Dubya at the time. It is almost entirely forgotten today that Bush campaigned on a "humble" foreign policy and disdained the idea of the US as "the world's policeman"! Gore bragged about being an Iraq hawk on more than one occasion. It makes me think that even without 9/11 and Iraq War might have been even more inevitable under a Gore administration...but without the need to spew BS about WMDs due to greater acceptability by the media and instead focusing on "human rights" issues.ReplyDelete
Breaking: HanAssholeSolo just went on a shitposting rampage. CNN corporate meeting over dox. Here is just one of them. Tragic.ReplyDelete
Another. I just can't believe it! Why won't he stop?!?