Watching the news over the past week two thoughts come to mind. First the divisions in the United States are hard to escape. Watching TV, switching between channels Fox, MSNBC, CNN Newsmax etc it becomes very apparent that a major factor or perhaps THE major factor now that Trump cant tweet is the media itself. When I watch Fox for instance, I ask the question: is this program meant to make me angry? Is it meant to decrease my faith in the Biden Presidency? Is it aimed at confirming my antagonism for the other side? Unfortunately in most cases the answer is YES. So for the Trump supporter watching only Fox and Newsmax or other similar outlet, the fanning of the flames continues unabated. The public is divided because the media makes it that way.
Second. The Republican party is no longer what it was. Those that feared what Trump might do to the party, Republicans even more than Democrats, were proved right. Trump has destroyed the Republican Party as we knew it. It is now a party that did not even bother to have a platform in this Presidential election. The platform was Trump. For all the talk of cancel culture blamed on the left, the Trump people are quite happy to cancel those views in their own party that are not 100% Trump’s. How the party of Lincoln could sink to the depths it has – supporting anti democratic views – believing crazy conspiracy theories and the like should be shocking to behold.
The reality is that the media makes its money from advertising. Advertising rates depend on viewership or listenership. The more eyeballs or ears the greater can be the advertising rates. That is Capitalism at work. One can argue that ALL views are there for the ears or eyes so it’s OK. BUT the reality is that people tune into one or two outlets that tell them what they want to hear and do NOT hear other outlets that give the opposing view. THEN that media outlet can guide them to even more extreme views that will KEEP them on that media and keep them away from the opposing views. It’s business. We are stuck with it. Free Press is great, but now we face the freedom to spread lies as well as the truth.
People complain that certain media is spreading lies, fanning the flames of division and other people complain that any restriction of the media is anti democratic. Both are right. That’s the catch 22. What Trump did is make Truth become what you want it to be. Alternative facts. Worse, he proved that Truth does not matter. What matters is what you BELIEVE. He also proved, largely through Twitter, you can influence people to believe what you want them to believe. He proved “you can fool some of the people all the time” – and in a democratic system like exists in the US that can be enough.