Donald Trump and the ‘Lamestream’ Media

December 12, 2016 § 6 Comments

Way back in 2009, failed Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin took her feud with the media to a new level.  She began referring to it as the ‘lamestream’ media, bitter as she was about the justifiable questioning of her qualifications for the position, amongst other things.  Her nomenclature, though, became a crystalizing moment for many on the far right, as they now had a catchy and witty term to describe the media.  The far right had long had a problem with the mainstream media, which tended to dismiss them as nut jobs or worse.  Indeed, far right sites like Breitbart, which had already been in existence for two years by the time Palin came up with her term, had been critiquing the allegedly liberal media.  Breitbart, though, was just the most successful of these far right sites, most of which, including Breitbart, descended into conspiracy theories, hate speech, and vague threats against minorities.

And then Donald Trump happened.  Trump, a life-long moderate Democrat from New York City, saw an opportunity.  Clearly he was a student of Joseph Goebbels’ theories of propaganda.  Goebbels, who was the Nazis’ spin doctor, noted, most famously, that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth.  But Goebbels also opined that propaganda works best when the manipulated group believes it is acting of its own free will.  This is not to say that Trump is a Nazi, of course (though some of his followers clearly are).  It is to note that Trump is a master manipulator.

All throughout the primaries and into the main presidential election, he carried out a series of feuds with the media.  He refers to the New York Times as ‘failing’ in nearly every tweet about it. He even carried out a feud with Megyn Kelly of FoxNews.  In that, he seemed to break with every expectation of a conservative candidate, as Fox has long been the conspiracy-driven, nearly fake-news media darling of the right (lest you think I’m biased, liberals have MSNBC, and it’s not like the far left doesn’t have its own issues with the media).  It probably helped that Fox was in a crisis of its own at the time, with head honcho Roger Ailes being forced to step down due to a sexual harassment scandal.

Trump, then, coalesced an already-extant movement that developed in the wake of the rise of Barack Obama, the first African American president, and his candidacy for the presidency.  Trump’s candidacy, though, took this until-now fringe movement into the mainstream, most notably through Breitbart and the appointment of its CEO, Steve Bannon, as his campaign CEO before appointing him as the Chief Strategist of the nascent Trump administration.

Trump’s media campaign and discourse has been nothing short of brilliant, even if it is nefarious and repulsive.

 

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Do Not Make Hatred Mainstream, or, Don’t Feed the Trolls

November 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

Donald Trump is the first man elected President of the United States with the support of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups since, well, before the Civil War (Andrew Johnson was elected Vice-President, but he did so as Lincoln’s junior partner and after taking a hard-line against Confederates, which he later walked away from). I refuse to call these people the alt-right. They’re not. They’re white supremacists.

But in the wake of Trump’s election, the media has been bending and tripping over itself to normalize white supremacy.  Perhaps those in the media behind this would claim that they’re just attempting to understand.  But there is nothing to understand. White supremacy is pretty bloody obvious.  There is no need to explain it differently, it is deeply offensive to let members attempt to explain themselves and argue for the justness of their cause in public.  There is no justness of their cause.

I came of age in the early 90s, when racist skinheads could still be found wandering around Canadian cities like Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal.  There, they beat on black people, harassed and intimidated non-white people, targeted LGBTQ people.  Violently.  And since that era, white supremacy has faded into the background, usually affiliated with violent racist fringe groups.

Until now.  President-Elect Trump has appointed Steve Bannon, an anti-Semitic, misogynist white supremacist as his Chief Counsel.  And much of the so-called liberal media in the United States has attempted to normalize it, like this is just a run-of-the-mill appointment.

But it gets worse.  Starting the morning after the election, on November 10, NPR was interviewing white supremacists on Morning Edition, as if that was to be expected.  The New York Times has alternated between shaming the incoming administration for its ties to white supremacists and normalizing those same ties.  The BBC has allowed the editor of The Weekly Standard, a deeply conservative, and apparently racist, publication, onto its set to claim that the KKK does not exist and, moreover, even if it did, to compare it with the Catholic fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus.  Nearly every media platform I consume has had some commentary from David Duke crowing about how happy he is.  And CNN had a man on last week asking whether or not Jews are people.  I refuse to provide links to this.  Search them yourselves if you want to see/read.

This is disgraceful.  This is giving screen-time to white supremacists, it is making them acceptable members of the body politic. It is allowing white supremacy to gain a beach head in the mainstream.  This is wrong.  So very wrong.  None of these clowns deserve support, or attention.  There’s a reason they were almost personae non gratae in the mainstream for the past two-plus decades: they’re extremists.  And watching the media feed these trolls is nauseating.

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