Friday, 18 August 2017

America: a nation at war with its media

I watched a video on Twitter today of a very attractive black girl. I mention that she was black largely because she was talking about race. She said that she doesn't feel threatened by the KKK. She points out that the KKK have been of a similar size and scope, holding the same meetings all throughout Obama's presidency. She is most likely correct.

So why is it suddenly an issue? Simply, because the media wants it to be. Why? Because Trump is president. And if there is one hallmark of the Trump presidency it is his war on the media in the name of ordinary Americans who can see the divisive motives of US left wing media.

We have had our own version here were the left mobilised to paint Ukip as though they were the second coming of the Gestapo. Here I must admit to contributing to that a little. I was of the view that a Ukip led referendum would lose - so I did what was in my power to push them into that corner.

In the end, it didn't need my help. Being completely oblivious to how politics works, Ukip walked into every trap. It is not a racist party but it is a party of working class people with blunt and unrefined views. Without any media management ability and lacking sophistication, it largely destroyed itself.

But in a way, what made it successful, to a point, was its unwillingness to play by the media rules - to be brash and uncensored. But the left also saw that as an opportunity to weave a narrative that fascism was on the rise.

The main reason it hasn't boiled over as it has in the USA is largely because Britain is a smaller country thus the clashes are small and so barely newsworthy. Douchebag vs Douchebag on the streets of Newcastle doesn't rate. But with the same dynamic on a similar percentage in the USA, it's big enough to make a splash on YouTube. Nevermind that the Charlottesville right wing protest had attracted morons from all over the USA.

But now the narrative is embedded that fascism is on the rise, all thanks to Trump - and that America is more divided than ever. This is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy in that the promulgation of this lie is its own feedback loop. That is why we are seeing a USA wide movement to remove statues.

As to the politics of that, there are better commentators than me to talk you through it. Personally I am against the removal of civic monuments. The moment you cave in, there is no telling where it stops. Some or other invented reason could just as easily lead to the removal of the Statue of Liberty.

But this to me puts me firmly in the Trump camp. The media is on nobody's side but its own, seeking to distort and defame for its own entertainment. Its monopoly position is driving the USA, once again, to civil unrest, but this time over entirely imagined oppression.

For all that we can cite the thinkers of the past on matters of free media, I imagine they never envisaged anything quite like the internet or monopoly mass media long departed from the values of the fourth estate.

A healthy society is one where there is a media which at least recognises its own obligations to intellectual honesty. USA media has long since given up any such obligation. This above all is what motivates the alt-right. The more dishonest and devious the US media becomes, particularly in whitewashing genuine threats to public order, the stronger it becomes. That is also particularly true of European media as it sighs a collective meh at increased frequency of Islamist atrocities.

And so it would seem that the USA has to resolve its own conflict - not between the people and their president, but between the people and their media - a battle in which the president, ineloquent and uncouth though he may be, is on the side of the public, not the press.

President Trump has condemned the KKK and racism. Not in good time, but as far as the presidential record goes, the words were spoken. That is what history will record. Media inquiry though was entirely disingenuous in asking if he had ulterior motives for not mentioning specifically one or other particular splinter group - playing their sick little games.

In spirit I side with Trump on this, although for this fight America needed a smarter, cleverer, more eloquent leader. It is America's loss that they have such poor leadership in such a crucial battle. It means that this presidency will not win the battle. It will take another movement to dislodge US media bias - and until then, we cannot expect America to be at peace with itself.

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