Being in the eighth decade of my life, I have lived through far-reaching, and distressing, changes in American society. I have also witnessed how the process for selecting presidents has altered, gradually, subtly, and without official sanction. An indication of changes to the presidential selection process is the powerful influence mainstream media has acquired over the years. Mainstream media’s dominance of television and the Internet is profoundly impacting the public’s political opinions.
In the current presidential election, mainstream media has joined forces with career politicians to concoct an intense smear campaign against Donald Trump’s candidacy. I can’t recall any previous smear campaigns that were as all-encompassing and as vehement as the anti-Trump stratagem.
Luckily, the well-coordinated tactical maneuver to blacken Donald Trump hasn’t been as successful as hoped. A primary reason is that media is relying on rationales that worked well in previous decades but have lost their ability to persuade. Admittedly, there are segments of society who are still susceptible to media proselyting, but most of us have to suppress a yawn when Trump is continually accused of demagoguery, hate speech, racism, bigotry, sexism, chauvinism, xenophobia, and all the other worn- out, derogatory clichés. We’ve been inundated with these trite Leftist barbs for so long that they have become boring.
However, mainstream media apparently believes it can still manipulate the public as easily as it did in the past. That’s certainly the impression we get from the nation’s most extreme Leftist publications, The New York Times and the Washington Post. Although the caliber of journalism offered by WaPo and The Gray Lady has seriously declined in recent years, these two outlets continue to assume that their slanted reporting can still manipulate public opinions.
The Washington Post maintains that Trump supporters exhibit “racial prejudice and white ethnocentrism” (I assume this means that they don’t buy into the White Privilege propaganda.) WaPo claims that 20% of Trump supporters disagree with the Emancipation Proclamation – this “fact” from a poll conducted by a London news agency. WaPo also claims that Southerners favor Trump because they detect “racial overtones” in his pronouncements. Southerners neither support nor express such sentiments, but WaPo insists it is capable of uncovering “hidden meanings” in comments otherwise devoid of racial context. In prior years, the public offered few objections when media reinterpreted its opinions, but the naivete of the past has significantly diminished.
A New York Times writer stated that the enthusiastic crowds at Trump campaign events were reminiscent of Hitler’s Nuremberg Rallies. When Trump asked audience members to pledge their vote by raising their hands, another Times’ journalist equated this with the Nazi salute. Others have attempted to compare Trump to Hitler but this allegation hasn’t gained any traction. In addition to comparisons with Hitler, The New York Times links Trump with George Wallace and the Left’s favorite 1950s demagogue, Joseph McCarthy. The Gray Lady’s vilification of Trump has become so vicious that one of its journalists actually joked about his assassination.
The Time’s loathing of Donald Trump contrasts with its passionate endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Consider this astonishing excerpt from that endorsement: “Voters have the chance to choose one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.” Media describes zealous crowds at Trump events as malignant and dangerous whereas at Clinton events they are inspiring.
And there are absurd efforts to connect Mr. Trump with the KKK, based solely on the fact that someone who had been associated with the Klan in prior years stated that he would vote for Trump. But this accusation fell flat on its face. America’s population exceeds 300 million, so a candidate can’t be typified by anyone who might support him. Media refers to someone who interrupts Bill Clinton’s remarks as a “heckler” whereas one who disrupts a Trump speech is a “protester.” This is a crafty choice of descriptive wording, a technique clever journalists often employ.
Of course, its not just media and the Left that fear Trump. The Right-Wing establishment, especially the Republican hierarchy, are seriously threatened by the possibility of a Trump presidency. Although they claim to be concerned about the effects on society-at-large, their goal is to protect their own turf. Many Republicans maintain that Trump is not a true conservative and that is correct. But the dire conditions in our country have reached the point where a candidate’s political philosophy is no longer a primary consideration for voters. Pragmatism has taken precedence over ideology.
Top Republicans and CEOs, along with a consortium of millionaires and billionaires, recently held a clandestine meeting at a sumptuous Sea Island resort that is financially off-limits to average Americans. The purpose of this cloak-and-dagger assemblage was to determine a strategy to derail the Trump candidacy. We can only speculate about what transpired behind closed doors, but despite the immense power these elites possess, it could be too late to stop Trump. Reports indicate that a primary concern of these moneyed men was that Mr. Trump might interfere with their ability to finagle IRS regulations to their advantage. Also many believe that this consortium fears that Trump will lessen the inflow of cheap immigrant labor, forcing their organizations to hire American citizens at higher salaries.
A fundamental change in mainstream media over the years has been the emergence of new political voices. The Walter Cronkite’s and Huntley/Brinkley’s are long gone. Today’s TV news “authorities” are network “centerfold” girls, along with comedians and other entertainers. Mainstream media is no longer limited to broadcast media and newspapers, but now includes self-anointed experts from the entertainment field. Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, and Whoopi Goldberg are prominent TV celebrities pontificating on political issues. Of course, these three strongly support Barack Obama and also favor a secular society with neutered gender roles. Who can say what impact they will have on voters?
This new breed of TV news personalities is another sad indication of the decline in the level of literacy in our country. Many voters will be swayed by TV personalities, but there will be a counterbalancing from citizens who fear that our traditions are being eradicated too rapidly and without consideration of long-range consequences. These voters are especially upset that cretinous mobs can prevent speakers from expressing their opinions, as guaranteed by the Constitution. Contrary to what some naively think, this is not just another routine presidential election, but a crucial turning point for our country. We are heartened by the groundswell of angry voters and hope they can offset mainstream media’s pernicious propaganda.