The Villagers are on the rampage. They are calling out the "Fake News".
People on the Left think the Mainstream Media is bought and paid for by powerful international corporations and Republican donors. People on the Right are convinced the Mainstream Media is a cabal of leftist leaning elitists and globalists who would prefer that government be the head of our collective family.
They can't both be right, can they?
Well if I am right, I think a mad doctor ( who obviously graduated from one of our multicultural schools) has created a two-headed monster that is both Leftist and Conservative. His monstrous creation, FrankenMedia, is schizophrenic, delusional and quite unpredictable. The mad doctor? That would be Dr. MarketForces Frankenstein.
I know, many of you will be saying, "What? Everyone knows the media is biased toward the Democrats!"
And I would agree if we look only at the American News Media. But when we patch together the worldwide media, and all of the social media platforms available, we get an entirely different monster. Though everyone on the planet is dependant to one degree or another on the information distributed by the rapidly expanding digital media panoply, the number of choices has grown exponentially. The concept of 'broadcasting' is extinct. The consumer can pick and choose from thousands of digital platforms, effectively customizing their information streams. We now have a 'narrowcasting' industry, brewing every kind of ideological tonic that will draw that 'drive-slowly-by-the-accident' audience.
The popularization of the term 'Fake News' is an oversimplified colloquialism, symbolic of what is wrong with our civilization. We are driven to package everything in truncated blurbs by our ridiculously short attention spans. The whole concept of journalistic integrity, the serious examination and distribution of information, has morphed into a new form of life.
What was for nearly half a decade a resource we could count on, the 4th Estate, has degenerated into an arcade ride labeled 'News.'
Like much in the culture of Western Modernity, when we find something we like, we exploit it to death! We over-use it and beat it into an unrecognizable bloody pulp version of itself. If one is good, two will be better, and ten must be awesome!
Our culture is not satisfied with four or five beer choices, so now when we go out for a drink, the beer menu is twice as thick as the dinner menu. The same holds true for our information streams; we can monitor dozens simultaneously, not to mention the sharing platforms of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and many others. Information comes in sound bites, truncated and even abbreviated, but collectively, it dominates our attention. TV's are everywhere, from restaurants to airport and hotel lobbies, to the top of gas pumps. The news we experience today bears no resemblance to the news we trusted when only the local newspaper, the local radio station and maybe two or three networks competed for our attention.
The ever present, multifaceted FrankenMedia Monster is unavoidable!
What we no longer have is accuracy in news. No one can claim to have the correct information because there is just too much of it. And who is to filter or edit it for accuracy? Just when you think you have gleaned all that can be said about an issue, here comes some bombshell from 'unnamed sources' blowing the story to smithereens!
What we do have is a FrankenMedia Monster that was created by committee of market forces that demanded the news department deliver higher ratings, garner more advertising revenue, and keep the audience tuned in for longer periods of precious advertising exposure. Producing the news is relatively cheap because you don't have enormous fixed costs for actor salaries, set construction, and massive production crews. The news is spontaneous and perpetual. Paying news collectors is much cheaper than paying content creators and story writers.
The news operations have come to be the branding mechanism for cable TV. I bet you can name four or five news channels but would have a hard time naming very many of the entertainment channels. Some of the most successful and well known media celebrities are 'Infotainment' stars like Oprah, Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and Matt Lauer.
Narrowcast cable or online platforms like YouTube, Netflix and others, are now producing original content too. But when you look close, nearly all of it is the sensationalization of recent news stories. The hit mini series, The People vs. O J Simpson, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., was an FX Channel original. It combined the intrigue of a domestic violence, a beautiful victim, a celebrity athlete and a gory murder. And it was true! Just what the ratings doctor ordered!
The FrankenMedia Monster is pieced together from different disciplines: the basic news is the skeleton, but hanging on the bones are a variety of garish attractions, to grab the attention of the audience. There is political intrigue (that's a big one because it has so many vested interests). There is entertainment from sports, film and TV celebrity, from human interest in trouble caused by chance (weather, earthquakes, tsunamis, healthcare and disease, etc.) and of course, war. There are wars waging 24/7 somewhere on the planet.
The FrankenMedia Monster is fed by cannibalizing the news; taking parts from different locations and origins, and ginning up the most possible commotion. Mixing one part entertainment with two parts news creates an elixir that audiences crave. When Trump slips up and fails to grab the headlines for a day (which doesn't happen very often), the Brexit Story, German troubles with Islamic immigration or something really incesstuous, can quickly fill the void.
Next up, racial tensions and unjustified police shootings!
I remember hearing one anchor say, "We will start our broadcast on this very slow news night with a story about the spread of hepatitis in San Diego!" Apparently President Trump forgot to slander someone with a Tweet that day...
Whether P.T. Barnum actually originated the phrase, "There is a sucker born every minute" is irrelevant. The point is, there is a news story born every second, whether it is fake or not. And advertisers know there are millions of suckers out there anxious to eat it up. Dr. MarketForces and his many assistants, lead by Igor Advertiser, have created an efficient and dangerous monster.
Get the whole story in my new book Trump's Reckoning: Bulldozing Progressivism, Rebuilding Americanism by Rick Elkin, published by Liberty Hill Publishers, and available online through Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or through most major booksellers.