I grew up in the media. In seventies Massachusetts, my father took a job at a fledgling ABC affiliate called WCVB-TV. These being the glory days of local television news, my childhood ended up being a lot like the movie Anchorman. I was regularly exposed to the plaid suits, terrible facial hair, and oversized microphone logos the Will Ferrell movie made famous. There are photos of my father in a yellow bow tie and muttonchops.
Glad you're tackling this topic. Great analysis so far. I hope at some point you'll address the Jon Stewart/Daily Show phenomenon and its role. I participated in it for a time myself, but it definitely contributed to a sense of complacency among middle-of-the-road liberals who could just sit there and laugh at conservative stupidity. How common it was for peers to brag about how they got their news from the Daily Show is sickening--and all the while Stewart would claim he was just a comedy show host when criticism came his way. It completely undermined his attack on Crossfire. It contributed to the idea that you just laugh at other people's hypocrisies and feel superior to them rather than pursue justice. Near the end, when Stewart made jokes about how disappointing it was that he was leaving as Trump was starting up his campaign perfectly sums it up. Liberals had been trained to be complacent in the power of their mockery over championing candidates with substance.
As always, great work, Matt! I hope you include MSNBC's firing of Phil Donahue during the run up to the Iraq invasion (and Chris Matthews' reported role in it) as an example of networks and reporters staying within bounds in times of crisis. If memory serves, Donahue's show was the highest rated on the network the month they cancelled it and there was a memo saying they didn't want to be seen as "unpatriotic" for featuring an anti-war host. Sad act by the so-called "liberal" network. (Incidentally I first encountered Prof. Chomsky's views when he appeared on the "Pozner/Donahue show CNBC the early 90's.)
Great piece. Hope you'll also discuss how the size and concentration of the mass media is even so beyond what Herman and Chomsky could have imagined. The fact that only four or five companies dominate the vast majority of media is frightening.
Wow wasn't expecting that! Great work! Great job explain how they built this foundation of control. Powerful writing.
"Across the street, down the MSNBC alley, there’s an opposite story, and set of storefronts, built specifically for someone else to hear." -- you give very specific examples for how Fox inflames conservatives but then completely cop out on specific examples for the left/liberal side. I think it's more effective if you give equal examples for each to show how this is a universal dynamic. A big goal of this book should be to bust up partisan silos that the media builds up.
We seem trapped in a repetition compulsion of foolishly thinking that everything in life is an Either-or situation. One of the dumbest memes is "There are always two sides."
http://bit.ly/2yxk1IT June 21, 2018, CityWatch, The Dangers of Dichotomy: The Saved vs. The Damned
The proposition that American "mainstream" media at least in the 21st century has become or is too uncritical of US government policy pronouncements etc is, I think, eminently defensible, albeit arguable . Similarly US "new media" coverage of the 2016 election has been and will continued to be sorely criticized for many reasons. A number of noteworthy books have been published arguing "close Russian influences" were at play with the Trump campaign. Many pundits drew inferences of "actual ties" between Trump and Putin and other Russian oligarchs whose character and nature varied. This "story" has been in circulation now for nearly 3 years, and one would think sufficient time and added experience have accrued allowing the subject to "ripen", at least to the point that some sort of consensus might obtain. Then again, this topic might be of the nature that motivated Zhou Enlai to answer in the 1970s when asked what he thought might be the effects of the French Revolution, "Too early to say". In that spirit, I view the headline posted some months ago "It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD" with a healthy dose of skepticism. And why is that? Well, just like pronouncing the character's name "Scheherazade", it's hard to say.
Thanks for your help in saving our Republic NOW. !! It's a horror me and for many Americans to witness what is happening today. I pray your input helps open the eyes of the ZZZZZZ or half asleep citizens ....so that they will join other patriots in the MARCH to regain the freedoms many citizens have given up without a fight!!!! Thank you for all you do to help us SAVE OUR REPUBLIC for now and forevermore!
Matt, I wonder if you have a thought about why journalists have fallen into the habit of describing every questionable military decision in terms of the sitting president. Of course he's "commander in chief," but he relies on the military and intelligence services for accurate information. Those over-optimistic generals always seem to get off without a mention of their bad advice, e.g. that the Afghan army could hold things together for months, if not years. Is this uber-personalization of the news part of the cultivation of hatefulness you describe?
A great book, read it two weeks ago. Thank you for your excellent work, and good luck to us all. :)
Matt, I have always been ashamed of our history. I have always known we are guilty of terrible things. I am not proud to be an American. The best thing about this country is that I can say what an awful job we have done and not be jailed for it.(yet) Any advice on how to cope?
I have been ashamed of our history for as far back as I can remember. I have no idea how I can help make it better. It is so depressing. Thank you for facing facts that most of us shy away from.
I was wondering: did you have a discussion with your father about Manufacturing Consent?
In Québec, there was a TV show called Droit de parole (Right of speech) where a former mayor and minister of the Québec government argued with a journalist about some current affair. My professor of History of communications at the University once told us he was a sporadic consultant of the show and was astonished that at the beginning of a show, one of the hosts asked the producer wich one was supposed to be for whatever the question they approched and who would be against. At that point, my main care was that my professor was a lot more naive than me
First, a quick nod to your Dad who I remember reporting on Boston TV in my teenage years. A gentleman and consumate professional. I've read your reporting over the years and wondered if there was a relationship. It clearly extends beyond the surname. Second, I'm thrilled to be a new subscriber and appreciate your analysis of the media phenomenon that is thoroughly frustrating in its ability to manipulate opinion while misguiding the listener/reader. This is some brilliant stuff that needs to be read and spread.