Trump despises traditional media for exposing his lies and he loves digital media because it can be spun to support his false narrative. The post factual reality, fake news and alternate facts being spun by the Trump administration reads like an Orwellian nightmare. If this sounds like hyperbole you have not been following closely. If you need more proof simply watch Trump’s most recent tirades against the press. Trump needs to deride fact-based reporting as a matter of survival. He must discredit the press if he is to have a hope of fulfilling his dark agenda. This is a man who has declared war on the EPA. He wants to take away regulations that protect the air that people breathe and the water that people drink. This is a man who wants to remove sanctions against Russia so that Exxon can drill for oil in the Arctic.
In a page right out of 1984, Trump’s doublespeak consistently accuses others of what he himself is guilty of. This may have been the strategy behind Trump’s first solo press conference since November 8th. The February 16th spectacle was described by some as surreal. During his hour and 17-minute rant, he lambasted “dishonest media” and then went on to utter a bold faced lie about his popularity. This is a one-two combination that is Trump’s signature move. Attack those who would expose you then lay down a bed of lies for his base.
Watch this Democracy Now! video containing excerpts from Trump’s February 17th press conference. He turns the truth on its head by suggesting that traditional news is fake news and his lies are the truth.
In this video from Fox News Shepard Smith slays Trump for his litany of lies at the press conference.
At his February 19th rally in Melbourne Florida Trump again went after the press accusing the media of doing what he himself has done on numerous occasions. Trump said the press writes stories even though they have “no sources” he then called journalists, “part of the corrupt system.” He then equates his subterfuge with the words and deeds of the founding fathers.
We are at a turning point in history and it is far more sinister than many realize. Under the guise of populism, the Trump administration is a kakistocracy they are preparing to enrich themselves and subvert democracy. It is not only the US that is moving in this dark direction. Nations where there is growing support for nationalistic agendas, include the UK, France, and Germany. The demagogues leading these right-wing movements have more in common with Adolph Hitler than America’s founding fathers.
Trump’s extreme views and erratic behavior are widely perceived as dangerous. At the 2017 Munich Security Conference, John McCain delivered an impassioned speech in which he expressed concerns about the “survival of the West”. However, it may very well be that there is a goal if not a method to his madness. It is possible that Trump may be trying to augur a constitutional crisis which would allow him to centralize power and subvert democracy. We can say for sure that his fervent support for fossil fuels and disdain for climate action are by all scientific accounts a threat to civilization as we know it.
It may not be hyperbole to say the fate of democracy and life on the planet may depend on counter-narratives. The institutions of democracy have already proven a powerful counter-force to Trump’s dark agenda. We also need new narratives that reach out to common people and address the issues and concerns of our times.
More than anything a new narrative needs to bring us together to resist the dystopia of the Trump administration. This is precisely what the new administration cannot allow. Trump willfully sows division, he is the Johnny Appleseed of hate. This division serves him as it pits his core followers against those who are interested in facts. He villainizes those who seek the truth as a prophylactic against his lies being exposed. Trump’s fear of a fact-based appraisal of the world is well warranted. Facts are his undoing, so Americans perception of reality must be altered at all costs.
Traditional media is not blameless, they are at fault but not in the way that Trump suggests. Traditional media served up a sensationalist, low-fact diet that fattened the anti-science politics of our age. It is not overstating the case to say that they have helped to create the right conditions to allow a pathological liar to become the president of the United States.
Traditional media was guilty of journalistic malpractice long before the most recent election cycle. They inaccurately covered climate science and once it ceased to be of interest to readers or once it failed to generate good ratings it was dropped altogether. Failure to adequately communicate the magnitude of the threat makes Trump’s climate denial seem a little less out of touch with reality.
Traditional media has been consistently losing market share to the digital world. Once a virtual license to print money in recent years desperation has driven the media to make commercial interests the paramount concern. Commercial interests have driven a host of factors that have diminished news and analysis. This includes convergence, newsroom integration, multimedia partnerships, cross-promotion and mergers. Corporate ownership of media has led to editorial intervention that detracts from the veracity of the news reporting. Even the so-called “promotional synergy” has not materialized to the extent many had hoped.
Newspapers and television fell asleep at the switch. In a bid for ratings they pandered to the basest aspects of human nature and abandoned the best journalistic standards. In the final analysis traditional media’s preoccupation with financial viability inadvertently helped an ill-equipped narcissist to assume control of the oval office.
We cannot give the media a pass, but by the same token we need them now more than ever. As John McCain said recently, dictators get started by suppressing free press.
Trump Battles with CNN over the Existence of Reality
How Conservatives Use Fake News to Control the Narrative
Trump and the Darkness of Post-Factual Media
Fake News is Serious but so are Efforts to Combat it
Mainstream Media’s Failed Climate Coverage
Mainstream Media is Distorting the Facts about Climate
Popular Media is to Blame for Inaction on Climate Change
Popular Media Panders to Conservative Politics and Legitimizes Climate Denial
The Science of Storytelling: Making Facts Matter in a Post-Factual World
Why We are Not Seeing More Action on Climate Change
Anti-Science Journalism Helped to End Progressive Climate Governance in Australia
The Slaughter of Innocents: Our Complicity in the Murder of Environmentalists
The Death of Mikhail Beketov and Environmental Journalism in Russia
The Persecution of Environmental Reporters
Environmental Advocacy Through Citizen Journalism