You can’t cure an illness or fix a problem without first diagnosing the exact nature of the cause. Donald Trump is like a malignant tumor that sprang from the damaged cells of the GOP, but how did those cells become so damaged and why didn’t our collective immune system neutralize them long before they metastasized? The dog-whistling, race-baiting politics of the GOP preceded Reagan, but some new sort of mutation began to appear during his term in the 80s that marked an accelerating line stretching strait to Dubya, and now to Trump. The answer, of course, is right wing news.
I flew home to NY19 yesterday from a brief vacation, and was seated on a plane behind two elderly white guys both watching Fox News on their in-flight TVs. The segments I viewed from afar were a nauseating and poisonous reminder that for more than thirty years our nation has been saturated in the most vile, hateful, twisted, dishonest rhetoric and media manipulation imaginable. It started on AM radio in 1987 when the FCC under Reagan did away with the Fairness Doctrine that had forced broadcasters to give equal time to both sides of an argument. The conservative lunatic fringe was then free to spew bitter grievances and conspiracy theories unchallenged. Ten years later AM radio gave rise to Fox “News”, and fifteen years later Fox gave rise to websites like Breitbart and Drudge.
It’s important to note that no left wing version of AM radio exists, and while there are cable news networks that skew left (MSNBC), they still include solidly conservative programming and are staffed by journalists with standards, unlike most of the shows on Fox. Many conservative media outlets are owned by plutocrat families like the Murdochs (Fox) and the Smiths (Sinclair) whose editorial agendas serve their own greed and desire to retain power. As well, their ascendancy began in the 80s when income inequality started on its current widening trend.
Donald Trump ALWAYS blames his opponents for the sins of his own camp, and in this sense he has been correct about the proliferation of Fake News. But the real Fake News is, and has been for thirty years, produced by conservatives. And this Fake News, born of an unprecedented concentration of wealth, is the true enemy of the things we hold dear: Democracy, science, learning, stability, equality, justice and unity.
Fox and Hate Radio would have you living in fear and resentment because it keeps your attention on their broadcasts, generating revenue, and it distracts you from the corporate hand that is simultaneously picking your pocket in the form of higher insurance premiums, higher commodity prices, lower worker benefits and protections, and a shrinking social safety net.
As long as Fox and Hate Radio continue, millions of citizens will think that Hilary Clinton was a pedophile, Barack Obama was a Muslim form Kenya, Richard Nixon was mistreated, the Civil War was about States’ Rights, and liberals are subhuman agents of Satan. It’s a giant pile of toxic BS.
As we fight our battles against the agents of hatred, intolerance and division, like Donald Trump and our own John Faso, never lose sight of the fact that they are but the outgrowth of a deeper cancer that has been spreading unchecked below the surface of our media landscape for thirty years, and must be factored into our Resistance calculus. Let’s keep working to Fire Faso…