In the Fight for Justice, the Media is Not an Ally
Donald Trump isn’t running a campaign anymore, but that won’t stop him from acting like it. In this campaign that’s not a campaign, he needs an opponent, and it’s clear that the media has become that opponent for Trump. Trump’s latest attack came when he tweeted various outlets being enemies of the people. Since then, the media has gone into a mode of righteous defense and made several vows to be adversarial to the Trump administration. This would be new considering they spent the past 16 years bowing to power at every opportunity. Trump has declared the media his opponent, and those in media are glad to make themselves the story. Journalism is important and holds great value today, but it’s role in prominent media has been diminished.
The media is not going to be an effective resistance to Trump. After spending much of recent history largely being glorified stenographers, their form of challenging power is really just a series of fact checks that proved worthless during the election. Correcting Trump on the margin of his electoral victory means nothing to his supporters and even those affected by his policies. Instead of questions asking about his raid in Yemen where a U.S. Navy SEAL and 30 civilians died, including an 8 year old girl, it’s a series of questions that have no end but to make Trump look stupid. We’ve reached the point of diminishing returns on that. Trump has shown himself to be shameless, especially when it comes to being wrong. The media would better spend it’s time pressing him on policies that harm the marginalized.
This is a monster that they helped build, and have spun themselves into a culture that has been unwilling or afraid to challenge those in power. Unbelievable amounts of free air time, his surrogates running wild on CNN with abandon, and empty podiums being aired even today. The list of media failures runs long and they were partially responsible for Trump’s rise and often considering Trump as something separate to the Republican Party rather than the natural evolution. The media’s complicity goes even further back as it was NBC who gave Trump, already on the record as a racist and misogynist, the Apprentice which is what made him the biggest celebrity in America before he became President. As long as he brought in the ratings, corporate media CEOs were content with giving him a platform.
This is part of a larger pattern of profiles and platforms given to the worst figures regardless of the negative consequences. Neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer and white supremacist, transphobic, misogynist Milo received numerous profiles with titles like “Meet the dapper white nationalist.” There is no shortage of coverage or profiles for those that have risen to greater power or relevance in the age of Trump and white supremacy. Juxtaposed with no platforms or outright suppression of any voices that are even remotely left, it’s clear that the media will never give a platform to something that threatens the corporations that own them, even if the alternative is a proto-fascist.
Bernie Sanders had an incredibly small amount of airtime even though he had a similar level of grassroots enthusiasm behind him. He’s the most popular politician in America today, but the media has attempted to smother his influence by either not giving him a profile or being outright hostile, an attitude that is rarely afforded to other politicians. MSNBC, the supposed left wing network, stopped bringing on left wing filmmaker Josh Fox when he became an ardent Bernie supporter after previously being a regular guest. Those that have the most effective message to counter the rise of Trump have been neutered, showing no care for the consequences.
The media also incessantly concern trolls the left about if they’re being effective, being willfully ignorant of what has happened in front of their very eyes. The most recent example has been asking the Democrats if opposing Trump on everything is actually helping him? The Atlantic even had the gall to publish an article by David Frum, architect of Iraq War messaging for George Bush and the “Axis of Evil” speech, giving advice to the left on how to be a proper opposition. Anyone who witnessed the 8 years of the Obama presidency already knows that obstruction is incredibly effective and holds little to no consequences. There is no political price for it. Republicans practiced unprecedented obstruction, blocking everything that wasn’t the policy they wanted, and they now control most of government in the United States. No one was asking Republicans if any of their actions were helping Obama all along. While I’m sure some in the media may really be this ignorant, it also fits in the regular MO for media to constantly try and throw a wet blanket on left wing grass roots movements.
Media is corporate owned and mostly run and operated by members of the upper classes, able to afford careers in journalism due to growing up well off and can take the unpaid internships and low paying fellowships that those with less money can’t afford to take. Because of this, media will always be antagonistic to movements that seek to diminish their capital power. From the Civil Rights Movement, to Occupy to Black Lives Matter to the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, any grassroots movement that threatens the powerful will be portrayed poorly, if paid attention to at all. As long as the media is owned by corporations and ran by predominantly rich white men, prominent media outlets will be an enemy rather than an ally. The media will revert to its normal state upon returning to our previous status quo and nothing more.