The utter failure of the mainstream media as Trump attacks Democracy itself

So, Saturday afternoon I’m sitting in McDonalds eating my post-soccer-coaching ice cream cone, and being the attentive, dedicated parent I am, I was checking twitter while my daughter was eating her ice cream.  Twitter was basically blowing up with commentary on Trump’s truly egregious attacks against the very foundation of democracy by his ever more zealous assertions that the election is “rigged.”

Meanwhile, the McDonald’s TV is on CNN and they are going on and on about Trump and sexual assault.  I check some other headlines on-line and it’s all about Trump’s absurd statement that Hillary should take a drug test.  Now, the sexual assault is, of course, a real and important issue, but there’s was nothing new.  The simple, sad fact is that it is good ratings to be able to talk about groping and “grabbing pussies.”  And when that, fails, drugs!  The far more substantial news of the day was Trump so forcefully attacking our fundamental democratic norms.  But, hey, things like “peaceful transition of power” is boring when you can talk about sex and drugs.

I will seriously be using this weekend as an example of real media bias in my classes for years.  It is so not about ideology or policy, it is about whatever salacious elements of a story may draw the best ratings.

And, for some good commentary on the truly horribleness of Trump, CNN’s Brian Stelter is great:

And a nice piece from Dara Lind explaining how awful this is.

In other news, on the bright side, my Dad now believes that Trump is “evil.”  (I didn’t object).  But, somehow, my stepmom (who really loves Jesus) is still planning on voting for the guy.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to The utter failure of the mainstream media as Trump attacks Democracy itself

  1. ohwilleke says:

    I’m not sure that the media is a force that can have an impact on this kind of thing. Evangelical Christians who comprise the lion’s share of white Republicans, pretty much have to develop a belief that science, higher education and the media are conspiring against God in order to hold onto Biblical literalist beliefs. So, this population comes pre-immunized against factual correction of political statements that are blatantly untrue when they come from almost anyone in a position to know the truth.

    Also, deeper down these communities know that anyone who accepts science as valid, higher education as a source of more accurate knowledge of the world, and the media as generally connected to reality, even if it is not a perfect source of truth, is almost compelled to conclude that their faith has a rotten foundation. So, anyone who accepts these things, Hillary Clinton among them, must deep down be part of the conspiracy against God. So is anyone who rejects church teachings that our society is not in a state of advanced decay.

    So, while many Evangelicals would far prefer a better standard bearer, somebody like Tim Tebow instead of Donald Trump, the non-college educated who have an immunity to these sources of knowledge that time in college had not pierced, still feel compelled to side with someone who shares their worldview and there is nothing an outsider can do to change those views.

    By telling a story that contradicts reality as told by science by higher education and by the mainstream media, by implying massive conspiracies, and harkening to extreme end times scenarios that his run might precipitate, Trump is validating the beliefs of tens of millions of Americans that elite views of the world are wrong and they instead are the ones who possess divinely imparted wisdom about the nature of reality.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    Good analysis. It’s really, really hard to go past the authority one internalized as a child and form one’s own views. It requires constant learning, willingness to expose oneself to other ideas and cultures, understanding how childhood ideas were absorbed, self analysis and constant re-evaluation. It’s a lot of work. Many people do not have the time or the will to persist. It’s much easier to focus on an authority and easier to find a new authority when the old one fails than to go through the lifelong process of establishing one’s own authority.
    And no matter how one tries, the childhood authority is still there in the background though it may not rule.

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