The anti-Trump media: Sound and fury, signifying nothing

The anti-Trump media: Sound and fury, signifying nothing
Anti-Trump protesters try to crash police barrier in NYC, 19 Mar 2016. (Image: Screen grab of RT video via YouTube)

For your convenience, we need to discuss what’s going on with much of the mainstream media right now.

At times in the recent past, the MSM were reasonably reliable about reporting the news, and taking legitimate news as the basis for editorial or polemical discussion.  Admittedly, those times were a shrinking subset of all the content pumped out by the MSM.  But the subset was still healthy enough to count.

It no longer is.  The mainstream media, along with the entire New Media leftosphere, are now mounting a full-court press (as it were) against the Trump administration, simply lobbing as much as they can out there to see what will stick.  None of it has to be true, credible, or even rational.  The purpose, besides creating an appearance of general chaos, appears to be putting heads on pikes, whether the lopped-off heads of the administration’s policies – introduced as President Trump promised during his 2016 campaign – or the figurative heads of the administration’s personnel.

In the pursuit of this objective, no amount of unsubstantiated innuendo or simple egregious nonsense seems to be too much.  The media don’t bother to defend it (or make it sensible); they merely repeat it, from one outlet to the next, until it seems to be coming from everywhere.

The examples cover almost literally everything that has been reported since mid-January (start here, but there’s a lot more) about the incoming Trump administration, federal policy, events inside the United States, and events outside the United States that can be framed in any way as impugning Trump, no matter how little he ever had to do with them.  An atmosphere of dementedness prevails – not because either the government or the people have gone crazy (the violent-protest left excepted), but because the media have.

I really hate to see the Old Faithfuls of the rightosphere taking up every new talking point as if it merits serious discussion.  Too many of them don’t seem to realize that the mode of political operation has changed for the MSM and the left (to the extent those are separate entities).  The MSM aren’t interested now in making sober points in a give-and-take dialogue.  They are using communications to attack, with whatever weapons come to hand – and they are going for as many kills and as much carnage as they can get.

There is no shared communication space in which political opponents can stake out positions in legitimately common terms.  The MSM are a predatory noise machine, not propounders of meaningful news.  Discussing the defamatory rumors and the stream of overheated invective the MSM now constantly spread about the Trump administration and its voters is not a means of engaging in dialogue or analysis.  It functions only to amplify false themes that should rather have dirt thrown on them and be suffocated.

Another day, another raft of misleading scare-word headlines. [Screen cap of aggregator site, 13 Feb 2017]
Another day, another raft of misleading scare-word headlines. [Screen cap of aggregator site, 13 Feb 2017]
The atmosphere of political communication used to look something like the first graphic below.  Frankly, this was not a very accurate picture of it during the Obama years.  But because the MSM were mostly satisfied that they were having the effect they wanted on government policy, they were content to benefit from the semblance of order depicted here.

The good old days of the political communication schematic. (Author graphic; original images from Shutterstock of federal-branch buildings (left) and American crowds (right).]
The good old days of the political communication schematic. [Author graphic; original images from Shutterstock of federal-branch buildings (left) and American crowds (right).]
There was, certainly, a level of friction and noise at every interface in the political cosmos – including between the people, with their differing political views.  That hum of friction is shown by the rippled lines, representing the inevitable environment of politics.

But the overall picture was clear enough that for the most part, consumers of political communication (the people as a whole being the biggest set) could perceive fairly accurately what they were seeing, and who it was coming from.

Since Trump won the election in November, this picture has changed completely.  Now it looks like this.

Can't see reality for the noise now. (Author graphic;
Can’t see reality for the noise now. [Author graphic; original images from Shutterstock of federal-branch buildings (left) and American crowds (right).]

And this is what readers need to keep in mind.  This messy view is not a picture of your government or your countrymen.  Through the MSM machine, the people are not seeing “Congress” or “the White House” in action.  They are seeing the mainstream media.  They’re seeing the incoherent picture created by the MSM running around with paintball guns every day, taking potshots and putting crazy splotches all over everything.

The Trump administration is not the weird disaster it’s being depicted as.  I’ll put it this way, for those who object to Trump’s policies, which it can be rationally legitimate to do.  (I object to some of his policies and agree with others.  It is neither crazy to agree with him, nor crazy not to.)  You do not know that the Trump administration is a weird disaster.  All you know is that it is being depicted to you as one, by the media you rely on.

You do not know what you think you do, if you are believing what the MSM tell you is going on with Trump, his officials, or federal policy.  Nothing you think you know is anything you have actually seen.  The only thing you can actually see is the frenzy the media and the protest groups are in.

Too many of the people can’t even see each other now.  They rely instead on the MSM to tell them about each other.  I urge people on the right as well as the left to understand this.  Don’t mistake the frenzy and noise created by the mainstream media for the demeanor of the other people out there whom you don’t personally encounter every day.

I don’t know if the genuine political rift between Americans can be bridged or not.  I’m not arguing here that if we’ll just reach out to each other, all will be well.  I’m not sure that it will be.

But I am arguing that we must not let the mainstream media and violent protesters define for us who is an “enemy,” and what must be fought over.  That big noise machine in the middle, obscuring our view of what is really happening around us, is the most dangerous thing on the landscape right now.  It’s not Trump, it’s not political officials of the other party, it’s not our fellow Americans.  It’s the noise machine taking over the public square.

From what I can tell, a whole lot of the ordinary people on the right are doing well at the essential task of tuning that noise machine out.  I have a sense that some people on the left are beginning to see it for what it is as well.  They don’t have to agree with conservatives to see that the noise machine isn’t actually serving the goals of the legacy Democratic Party.  And the frenzied nature of its hype is a little too evident now.  At a certain point, even the most sympathetic intellect realizes that nothing is legitimately this bad.

For my money, the MSM are overplaying their hand.  They’re determinedly giving us a false picture – and that’s going to bite them in the rear down the road.  The day will come shortly when what Trump or his spokesmen said will be validated, no matter how the media try to make it seem otherwise.  The day will come when Congress does the things it normally does, and concrete, verifiable things happen, and the media won’t be able to pretend something else is going on.

The day has already come when enough of the American people rejected the MSM’s old-consensus narrative, and were able to elect a different kind of president.  That happened before Trump even came on the scene.  Millions of voters had already realized they needed to stop listening to the MSM.  Now they no longer do.  And if the MSM continue to paint false pictures, more people will tune them out.

The way the mainstream media are headed, that will be a good thing.  People are inventive and adaptable; we’ll find a way to function without letting the MSM tell us what to think.  Just don’t let them incite you act on false tales about your president and your fellow Americans, as they stagger out the door.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

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