Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Shape Of Things To Come?

The other day, I wrote a post about how NBC Nightly News was attacked by Donald Trump via his weapon of choice, Twitter, a perhaps apt mechanism given the president-elect's incapacity for sustained thought or discourse.

But NBC is hardly the only media outlet in his sights. His latest is an attack on Vanity Fair in retaliation for a scathing review of a restaurant in the lobby of Trump Tower called Trump Grill. This excerpt probably set the Orange One off:
“The allure of Trump’s restaurant, like the candidate, is that it seems like a cheap version of rich,” Tina Nguyen wrote, saying the restaurant “reveals everything you need to know about our next president.”
That seems to have led to this retaliatory tantrum:
"Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine," Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

"Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!"
At one time, being personally and/or professionally attacked by an incoming president would have been a shocking notion to all but the most rabid among us. Now, I fear, it will simply become a common and expected feature of a Trump presidency, one that may have long term consequences.

At a time when mainstream media are losing their cachet and readership, will they have the determination and integrity to continue being the guardians of democracy, or will they mutate, as some already have, into a kind of Praetorian Guard for this strange new emperor of the American Empire? The signs are not entirely promising.

Sarah Kendzior offers some unsettling thoughts on the question:
According to reporter Daniel Dale, Mr. Trump told at least 560 lies during the course of his campaign. Some lies are audacious in that they are easily disproven – for example, when Mr. Trump claimed he did not tell U.S. citizens to “check out a sex tape” after tweeting to them to do so. Flagrant lying is a hallmark of despotism. It sends the message that one should not bother speaking truth to power when power is the only truth. It implies that the teller of the lie defines reality, no matter what evidence there is to the contrary, including the liar’s own words.
It is that later sentence that gives one pause, since the MSM are becoming part of the problem:
... as inauguration looms, Mr. Trump’s team may not have to work too hard to keep the U.S. press in line. U.S. journalists, always his greatest ally due to corporate collaboration and fear of retaliation, [emphasis mine] are already mainstreaming the Trump administration’s most inflammatory ideas. To read the U.S. media today is to see a CNN debate on whether Jews are people, the Associated Press falsely tweet that the KKK has disavowed white supremacy, and countless mainstream media puff pieces on neo-Nazis that focus more on their fashion sense than their fascist beliefs.
Will mainstream media thus become normalizers and apologists for the incoming demagogue? If the following is any indicator, there is much to be concerned about:
Donald Trump's campaign struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage, his son-in-law Jared Kushner told business executives Friday in Manhattan.

Kushner said the agreement with Sinclair, which owns television stations across the country in many swing states and often packages news for their affiliates to run, gave them more access to Trump and the campaign, according to six people who heard his remarks.
The price of this access, it appears, was steep:
In exchange, Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary.
And what about those outlets that insisted upon calling their own shots?
Kushner ... told the business executives that the campaign was upset with CNN because they considered its on-air panels stacked against Trump. He added that he personally talked with Jeff Zucker about changing the composition of the panels but Zucker refused. He repeatedly said in the panel that CNN wasn't "moving the needle" and wasn't important as it once was, according to three of the people present.

The campaign then decided not to work as closely with CNN, and Trump ramped up his bashing of the cable network.
So will this be the shape of things to come? Will the unofficial fiat be, "Play ball with the Trump administration or be denied access?"

I think I know the answer to the above. What I don't know is how many media outlets will opt to save, not sell, their souls.


  1. This is part of the price we pay for allowing a corporate media cartel to take hold. The mass media is supposed to bolster democracy by, among other things, standing as the watchdog of government. When corporations consolidate control of media outlets it triggers a switch in polarity. The media goes from watchdog of government to government lap dog, choosing for genuine financial advantage to serve government instead of the public interest. In Canada we explored this dynamic thoroughly in the Davie and Kent commission reports. We know that concentration of ownership results in a corporate cartel that is inherently destructive of democracy. That's why I have so long argued that democratic restoration must begin by dismantling the corporate media cartel. Cartel media indoctrinates the public instead of informing them and we saw with our very eyes the results in the turnout at Trump rallies.

    Yet there's only one party with a platform calling for the restoration of a free press in Canada and that party won't be forming government for a long time to come, if ever. It's a measure of how the other parties, all of them, have been seduced by neoliberalism that this isn't even on their radar.

    1. Excellent point, Mound. The insidious corporatization of media has been going on for some time, and now we are reaping the bitter fruit. Tangentially, I often wonder what will happen to all of the papers that Post Media bought up, formerly very respectable journals that, in the last election, were forced to carry the same editorial and the same front page endorsement of the Harper regime. When the National Post folds, will all of the others papers under its aegis face the same demise, or is there any possibility of renewed and independent ownership?

  2. Hard to know what awaits the NP papers, Lorne. Some, such as the Ottawa Citizen, will likely find new owners. The smaller dailies, such as the Windsor Star, no longer even resemble newspapers very much. Whether anyone else wants to step into that market with a stand alone paper is unclear.

  3. .. Reality has a way of levelling the playing field.. even cities.. or countries. Poor Donald, his misfortune is the flapping lips and floppy mentality that he just can't control. His reality is that Trump time is running out, and the levelling will begin to accelerate radically. Of course he'll be as destructive as possible before boredom, lawsuits or those he thinks owe him some sort of vague 'allegiance' begin to stab him in the back or to his face. It won't be pretty & even the Mainstream Media will join the pile on, with great glee. The creep is a complete joke, a farce, a fake and a loser.. and like essentially all of his ilk, ultimately a complete coward. He'll find the closet he deserves then begin trying to harvest what is truly most important to him.. money. Then he'll go after salve for his ego.. and then he'll become simply inconsequential. Since he never had anything to offer.. it won't appear by putting lipstick on a pig, or a pig into the White House. The ultimate hollowman.. revealed as complete chickenshit