Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Media Is The Mess

Stipulated: the Republican capacity to believe anything, encouraged by the modern conservative movement, and the conservative media's unmatched ability to monetize it, made someone like the current president* not only possible, but also inevitable. We can count ourselves marginally fortunate that the guy in the low-water golf pants is so bad at what he's trying to do. The main event in American conservatism over the next several years is going to be a monumental pissing match over the best strategy to consign these obvious truths to the same memory hole where they stashed the events of 2000-2008 and the detritus of the Avignon Presidency. And the first real brawl in this existential pie fight is going on right now.

Charles Pierce: These Conservative Intellectuals Can Go Hash Things Out on Some Desert Island While the Rest of Us Fix the Country

Everything he says about the absurdity of Trump giving Arthur Laffer the Presidential Medal of Freedom*, along with the likes of Milton Friedman to have been among the most fecund of advocates for economic disaster in modern times is true.  I agree with everything he says. All well and good, Mr. Pierce, as far as it goes.  

But it wasn't the intellectuals who caused the real problem, such scum taking office,  it was the media gulling enough of "the rest of us" into putting Hollywood products and two Bushes, one Nixon and a bunch of the biggest bunch of goons as have ever held the Congress in place.  The intellectuals found fertile ground in the composted brains of Reagan and Bush II and Trump - all I would bet having their most significant formation through Hollywood and other entertainment.   That three out of the past five Republicans almost certainly had that formation (though Ford shouldn't count since he was the choice of Nixon, hot We The People) is certainly not irrelevant.  

This is what a country formed by entertainment mass media is bound to turn into.  The inevitability of that is as certain as that the past two Democrats have been afraid of the media and, so, have not been as aggressive as those who put them in office would have liked them to be.  

I've mentioned before the early days of the Obama administration when cabloid TV was pushing the billionaire financed astro-turf campaign of the "Teaparty" that a blog commentator, I believe it was the erudite "Southern Beale" who pointed out that when CNN was giving full coverage of a sparsely attended "Teaparty Convention" in her town, there was a knitting convention happening in the same city which had many times more participants.   And that was only one instance when the media, which Pierce is a full member of, did far more than an idiot pseudo-intellectual like Arthur Laffer did to destroy the country.  

And the media is what led both Bill Clinton and, especially, Barack Obama into choosing to be weak presidents, discouraging their supporters, turning them into far weaker presidents than their support should have led to them being.   Voluntary weakness in the face of media created backlash is the Democratic equivalent of Pierce's "prion disease" in the Republicans. 

Until figures in the media own up to the part that the effectively unlimited freedom of the press to lie, to distort, to make disappear anyone they want to disappear from the day-to-day thinking of an effective margin of Voters, concentrating on the hijinks of the hirelings of billionaires who peddle horseshit like supply-side economics is far too little, too late. 

Does anyone think that Donald Trump knew about Laffer except what he saw or heard about him on TV?  On FOX?   George W. Bush, no doubt inspired by his wife, pretended to read books.  I don't think Trump even bothers to pretend that he reads, I don't think even his supporters believe he does.  I don't think Milton Friedman would have gained any real traction in American politics if PBS hadn't had the billionaire financed series he did in the late 70s, in reaction to a series about the history of economics by Kenneth Galbraith earlier in the decade.  No doubt some of Reagan's advisers saw it, I can't imagine it holding his dwindling attention for much more than part of an episode.  Maybe Maureen interpreted it for him.  From what I have heard, he mostly liked to watch his own movies and to talk about them.  Trump, the formula to getting his attention is to mention him, even his own aids know that.  And if it's too long, it doesn't work. 

* I've always had an uneasy feeling about the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of president Kennedy's innovations.   While some of the recipients of it have been, admittedly, great people, many have been the exact opposite.  As time goes on I find that a lot of what happened in the Kennedy years has been of dubious wisdom or motive.   I wish they'd stop giving the thing. 

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