What’s lacking in the corporate media’s recent “Trump-in-chaos” narrative is any sense of self-examination or self-introspection for its own historical contribution to the madness.
That Donald Trump exudes the essence of unreliability and chaos is not new, even if that doesn’t make it even less frightening, and no one can honestly argue that the last few weeks in the White House—from resignations of key staffers like Hope Hicks to the revealing of even more Trump garish sexual behavior to this-is-a-witch-hunt Tweets to the sudden announcement of tariffs, etc.—have not been inordinately and historically bizarre for the country.
But I don’t think it’s a stretch to claim that the corporate media and its relentless quest for viewers and advertising dollars—advertisements more often than not based on shady claims if not outright lies—has created the capitalistic theater for Trump to destroy the norms of the American presidency and by doing so has also handed him the final dagger to plunge into what little semblance is left of our democracy.
Let me be clear I have no qualms with anyone who wants to fully condemn Trump’s erratic behavior, corruption and immoral belief system and label it “chaos.” I would call it tragic, but chaos works as well. In any event, Trump’s behavior is NOT fake news. But as the saying goes in socialistic circles these days, “Trump is the symptom, capitalism is the disease, socialism is the cure.”
The corporate media, sustained for years by advertisements filled with falsehoods and misinformation, fuels the breathless drama of their own creation. The inane talking-head cable news shows with overwrought commentary spliced between crass commercialistic harangues have lowered the political discourse in this country as much as anything else and that includes reductionist social media. They have helped turned the institution of the American presidency into a world laughing stock and a planetary reality show. Now they want to pose as guardians of the republic to make yet another buck.
How many times have we heard how great Trump has been for the media—not just Fox News—in terms of television viewership levels and corresponding advertising revenues? (He would be the first to claim credit for it, and, yes, he would be right.) You can read about it here and here and here, and that’s just the result of a cursory web search. It’s not just a coincidence that the network NBC, which helped made Trump a household name with The Apprentice show, is still getting its cut from his vulgar acting ability on many levels. Trump is the crass caricature of capitalism in all its inequality and immorality. Unfortunately, his acting now has real-life, real-world consequences.
The Trump chaos, then, is very much a threat, but I have serious doubts the major networks and cable channels can respond to the tragedy we all face under Trump’s corrupt regime because they still have too much of a financial stake in promoting the daily craziness for their own profits. The chaos is good for business.
American voices outside of the capitalistic morass need to be given an opportunity to make their case in larger news forums in order to give democracy a fighting chance. This probably isn’t going to happen until it’s too late for our democracy. Election victories against Republicans in 2018 can help mitigate our precarious situation and delay what seems to be the inevitable at this point, but people have to vote in unprecedented numbers.