These days, when I hear some dope (if an American) supporting or a provocateur (if a paid agent of an adversarial country) praising Donald Trump, anyone aware of history can only imagine the level of Joseph Goebbels’ envy.
Were the Nazi Reichsminister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda among us bodily today, the distinct lack of resolve which now cores out the United States would warm his cold soul. It would do so because the credulous people we’ve become didn’t bother with much suspicion before swallowing whole the most puerile falsehoods ever conceived.
The kind that even Goebbels wouldn’t have dared. Why, yes, that’s how brazen Der Trump’s 2016 campaign was.
Admittedly, the Nazi’s instruments of deception were quite crude compared against modern means, and his only effective through shrill repetition. Yet social media has meticulously eroded trust in functioning institutions, and the least trustworthy charlatans ever in our nation’s existence turned our strengths into complete liabilities. Had these tools been at Goebbels’ disposal, Western Europe would’ve run into Adolf Hitler’s stranglehold rather than resisted it.
Thanks to Fox News, various Russian intelligence agencies, and selfish Americans own increasing loathing of our nation, a plurality of voters were blinded to obvious quality. Instead, too many of us duped ourselves into choosing peril.
One should wonder when and how did normally sober-minded Americans become so susceptible to such plain falsehoods as promoted by Fox News. Is this a consequence of the nation’s once top dogs seeing their traditional dominance diminish beneath the rising waves of society’s previously marginalized members? By accepting lies into their bosoms, taking solace in them, is the perceived loss of status mitigated or denied altogether?
Does the right’s hectoring of reputable news providers reinstall the confidence lost by less dynamic Americans’? Shouldn’t we all rejoice seeing formerly ignored or belittled citizens ascending as fully enfranchised Americans? Or is the right simply being opportunistic and instilling fear where none resides?
After all, the greater the fear espoused the easier it is to stampede fearful viewers into purchasing overpriced precious metals.
No one should mistake Fox News viewers as courageous. Gullible? Yes. Stalwart? No.
Our present straits are unimaginable without technology. Surely on one hand, instantaneous messaging and social nets which bind diffuse populations with the speed of neurons between synapses have transformed information gathering and dissembling. People in different corners of the world may now be alerted and informed faster than gossip can pass among high school girls sitting at a lunch table.
Speed aside, though, quality has suffered. In fact, hasn’t quality been sacrificed?
It started to turn when the print medium tried competing with new media. Editors began having reporters file “notes” from the field. Curious readers with web access could then follow what were essentially reporters’ musings. In any case, what we now know as click bait enthralled the curious. Revving up the proud press practice behind “scoops” satisfied the more facile news readers by having him or her aware of one more trivial incident to be added upon life’s hill of beans.
The greatest difference between print scoops and those issued electronically is the time and effort dedicated to verifying the former. Before media sites even the hottest, juiciest reportage routinely underwent stringent checking. Indeed, often the presses were held. The exacting burden of confirmation saved untold careers and reputations.
Undoubtedly it would surprise the more skeptical public to know that ink-stained wretches bring ethics to the words appearing beneath their bylines. Reporters, not columnists. The latter aren’t bound by the same strictures. Increasingly, American newspaper readers are incapable of making this important distinction.
Never having toiled in television I can’t state whether that medium adheres to the same standards. But having watched Fox News several times it’s clear its barking heads are guided by anything goes. And yes, some viewers will reflexively declare CNN, the BBC, and MSNBC left-leaning mirror images of Fox’ reactionary spew.
However, when disaster befalls some region in the world, don’t viewers – of all persuasions – immediately turn to one of the first two broadcasters? As for the third, advocate as MSNBC does, its viewers do get to hear full-throated opposition during the debate. Make a point that upends a promoted argument on Fox News and the host, moderator, shill leaps in and shouts down the offender with the vitriol of a Soviet era show-trial judge browbeating a defendant who veered from his coerced confession.
New media has abandoned accuracy for speed. Juicy rumors and hearsay and speculation now serve as too much fodder for electronic journalism. Often when the item is disputed, when it is disproven, the retraction or correction never launches with the same verve as the damaging article. In fact don’t the portals then rush another piece of salacious or erroneous or poorly sourced material just to yank attention from the previous slapdash dispatch?
In our era of purloined then leaked photographs, surreptitious filming, hot mics, and increasingly wilder indiscrete behavior being sold as painfully honest candor, the avenues we permit what remains of our private selves are broadening and less regulated. Diligence keeps many fantastic stories from print because these weren’t true.
If lives are to be exposed and possibly ruined, then speculation extrapolated into plausibility is genuinely worthless. That sentence suited media before a laptop or a handheld device made us all capable of shading incidents through the prisms of our own biases. An especially useful conduit for the venal, the vindictive, and reactionary provocateurs in today’s Baboon America.
Aware the bulk of Der Trump’s online support the handiwork of bent trolls and nefarious agents dedicating themselves into sowing discontent and confusion throughout those segments of fractured and confused America, especially deluded comments occasionally issue from genuine backers of the short-fingered vulgarian. These need addressing. Forceful addressing. Forceful backhand addressing. If only to hone this correspondent’s rhetorical instrument of course.
Those people have devoted so much towards their own deception it nevertheless continues amazing me the amounts of misguided faith which our fellow Americans can waste upon traitors such as Der Trump and Fox News.