I’ve been criticizing American tv “news” for a while. Sometimes I think I can avoid the topic… and then more examples just keep pouring in.
Today’s story is a good one. It’s about the rottenness of tv “news” in its approach about Trump and would-be voters.
Nearly half of voters in a recent survey said they had seen TV ads supporting Donald Trump in the last week.
There’s just one problem: His campaign hasn’t aired any, and his friendly super PACs have run very few. [emphasis added]
Yes, cable tv “news” has been so slavish in its Trumpery, so desperate to portray every gesture and fume emitted by that weapons-grade plum, so uncritical in its frantic fawning, that its output is now indistinguishable from campaign advertisements.
The Wall Street Journal analyzes the mechanisms:
Mr. Trump has mastered the art of getting on TV without paying for it. His rallies are frequently carried live by cable networks. He often calls into the networks for interviews. And networks regularly splash his most controversial tweets across the screen for pundits to dissect.
The media-coverage tracker mediaQuant estimated that Mr. Trump has received more than $3.8 billion in such unpaid media exposure in the last year, compared to $1.7 billion for Mrs. Clinton.
But that account underestimates tv “news” outlets’ gleeful complicity. In December one network CEO openly proclaimed their celebration of Trump. Since then, as as Trump moved from comedy figure to presumptive GOP nominee, journalists have started to come forward and publicly acknowledge the disaster. Yet many Americans still maintain the tattered fiction that tv “news” stations are actually conducting journalism. Today’s poll shows what they are actually doing: openly and effectively advertising for one candidate.
Once more I say that addressing this problem is a task for educators. If we take critical thinking and/or media literacy at all seriously, we have to encourage learners to shun American tv news.
And we have to recognize the generational aspect. Study after study has shown that tv “news” watching is strongly correlated with age.
Yes, we have to coax teenagers away from CNN, but the much bigger problem is middle aged folks and especially seniors. Recall that the latter are likeliest to vote, too.
If we educators don’t succeed in this, and if Americans don’t change these habits on their own, and CNN/MSNCB/Fox et al keep on with their current course, things could get worse. We might look back fondly on 2016’s tv “news” as brazen advertising for a terrible candidate.