The media meritocracy: THIS Is How It All Unravelled . . .
Once the media courageously fought McCarthyism. Today the media are complicit in creating a new McCarthyism. And now, what they’ve created has come back to bite them as they are no longer immune.
Interestingly enough, the idea of a trusted, sort of deified, all-powerful media began to gain acceptance during the McCarthy era when Edward R. Murrow took on McCarthy, revealed his shenanigans and began to show that behind the curtain there was nothing but a sick, desperate, destructive little tyrant. This made Murrow a sort of media god and planted the seed for the idea that, in a complicated, noisy, sometimes corrupt modern society the media could act as a safeguard — exposing the lies, telling the truth and even righting wrongs.
This notion was further enhanced over the following decades as the media burnished its reputation through the coverage of the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam war, the release of the Pentagon Papers and the ultimate orgasmic media triumph, the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s subsequent resignation.
That was the high point for the media.
But since then, it’s really been all downhill.
And most certainly the beginning of the end came when the media climbed into bed with the Clintons. The media’s exaltation and exonoration of both Bill and Hillary released the first clear scent of the creepy culture of corruption that the media had bought into — indeed, that it was now part of.
Americans are not dumb. They sensed what was happening. They saw it; they heard it; they sniffed it out. And be certain of this: They deeply resented it.
They resented it because they knew how unfair it was. They understood the double-standard behind it. They knew it was tawdry, cheap and phony. They knew it ate away at the moral fabric of our society.
But there was little that could be done about it. Big Media held all the cards. Big Media controlled both the messengers and the message. And Big Media held the power to keep secrets and protect some while “exposing” and destroying others. They had become precisely what they once sought to destroy — a smug, powerful, disdainful and degenerate clique.
And then it happened. Like a sort of silent tsunami, a power emerged from the bottom, up — a power that few had ever imagined let alone anticipated.
At first, they called it “new media” and they pretty much dismissed it as marginal, at best — a fringe element, a place for nerds or socially-challenged techies. But it took hold faster than anyone had imagined and multiplied with breathtaking speed to the point where it finally claimed its rightful title: Social Media. It was social in the sense that it was readily accessible to practically anyone. And it was media in the sense that it could be disseminated to almost everyone.
As it grew and gained influence (and a sort of newfangled credibility) most of old media simply dug in. As its power weakened, old media feigned unconcern, then became increasingly snarky, pugnacious, abusive and even more paranoid than usual.
But few yet saw that old order as ripe and rancid as it really was.
One of those who did recognize what was happening and was able to connect the dots had been patiently watching and perhaps planning his moves for quite some time. He knew that the collapse of traditional media would not be isolated. On some level, he must have comprehended that in a big, pluralistic, interdependent society everything really is related to everything else. And having already gained a hands-on understanding of key elements of the media, he knew the implications of what was happening. Clearly, the deconstruction of information delivery systems would result in the deconstruction of power and that would leave power (aka the Whole Established Order) up for grabs.
In the end, however, it wasn’t so much prescience or enlightenment that handed Donald Trump his opportunity. No, it was more a matter of intuition and good luck.
His timing was right and all of the other factors seemed to have naturally fallen into place.
And so he was propelled from the bottom up, like an elixir borne of of a zillion tiny drops into spoonfuls and then into beakers and then small pools and eventually great rivers carving up the bulk of the nation. Such was the dramatic impact and the lightening speed of the communication revolution that took hold and opened the corridors of power to him.
Now, a year later, the old order and all that it represents are still crumbling around us and each new day brings another iconic figure or another institution that has fallen on its own sword. And yet, they still don’t seem to quite understand what is happening. In the language of the old media, they still don’t “get it”.
And so, they’ve taken a page from more than 60 years ago and now engaged in a sort of circular firing squad — and this goes not just for old media but for the entertainment industry, the political establishment, academia, much of the pop culture and even parts of corporate America.
It’s all unravelling!
Yes, this is the Trumpian world that we now inhabit
But don’t this at the feet of Donald Trump and don’t look to him for a scholarly understanding of the situation.
Instead, look to Marshall McLuhan, the great communication guru of the 1960s who declared: “At the speed of light, policies and political parties yield place to charismatic images.”
Yes, it was McLuhan who understood the dynamic nature of information and the power of its conveyance; the same McLuhan who declared that “the medium is the message” and who once observed that “only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by public incredulity.”
Keep all of this in mind as the picture unfolds before you.
Then, you can start connecting the dots.