Miles Copeland, III

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Media divisions today

It’s hard enough to understand the huge division between the Trump/ Republican side and the Democratic side. The best way to understand it is to look at the similar division in the news. On one side there is Fox and the Right wing AM Radio pundits and on the other is CNN, MSNBC and the general news channels (dubbed the mainstream media by the “right”)

To understand the media division one must realize that in essence both CNN etc and Fox etc are in the advertising business. That’s where they make their money, fund their business, make their profits. On the “mainstream media side” there has always been the assumption that part of providing news is providing truth at the same time. The “News” was not always looked upon as a profit center – rather it was a service to the public. Slanted perhaps but still basically trying to stay in the truth column. So CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Newsy, mainstream channels basically divide up the ‘news’ or truth seeking audience.

On the other hand Fox realized that if they also followed providing news to the truth seeking audience they would further divide that audience and indeed face competition from like minded outlets. They would be entering an already saturated market being catered for. Not an attractive business strategy. They saw that that there was a whole other potential audience that was not being catered for. Call them disenchanted, or conspiracy prone, or angry, or ill informed, or racist, whatever but they constituted perhaps 30 to 40 percent of the market that could watch TV. So catering to that audience would mean that a network like Fox could effectively own that large chunk of the audience. For advertisers that was very attractive.

Since the Fox audience has included the Trump people it means their news will focus on stories that appeal to that audience and fit the agenda and statements coming from the Trump supporters. The Fox approach was simple. Tell people what they want to hear and they will tune into your programming. Because Trump has consistently dismissed anything negative about Russia Fox pushes the dangers of China as the issue not Russia. The Muller Report becomes “the Russia hoax”. Lockdowns are looked upon as intrusions into peoples freedom and destructive of the economy. Mask wearing is challenged. Dr. Fauci is criticized. Little is spent talking about the mounting Covid deaths. Pretty outrageous statements indicating that the world will come to an end if the Democrats control things become regular talking points. Go after the son of President Elect Biden but no mention of the Trump kids actually in government. Regular talk about voter fraud etc etc. Basically Fox is out to keep its chosen audience and thereby keep its ratings and keep its advertisers happy.

What is amusing is that once Fox dabbled in some truth telling (like Biden won Arizona) that pissed off Trump who then steered his supporters to other “more agreeable” outlets like Newsmax. So the “right wing” audience that was heretofore the domain of Fox now was being divided up by other outlets looking for that same audience. To beat Fox one way was to be even more Trumpish than Fox.

The problem with all of this is that whatever one wants to believe – there is a channel that will tell you that you are absolutely right and everyone else is wrong “fake news” or whatever.  If one watches only that one channel that tells you what you want to hear then one becomes convinced and confirmed in one’s views. That is the state of play in the US today and the basis of the deep division in the country. One side does not hear what the other side is hearing and therefore lives in their own bubble – a bubble of their own making and one that the media people out for a buck see as a way to gain advertising revenue. Add to this that the Trump era has also improved ratings of the anti trump media. Who would watch the news if things are normal?  The crazier the news the more likely all people of any political belief will tune in to see what is going on.

For me, my hope is the Biden era will be less newsworthy. Not so good for Fox, CNN, MSNBC; the right AND the left. Perhaps out of all of this “truth” will once again become important.

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