The War Media vs. Trump

There exists, in reality, a world-girdling, electric-signal-driven Media Establishment (I capitalize it as a proper noun because of its institutional characteristics) that has existed ever since the telegraph and the telephone and the lithograph (printed picture) were first invented and became widely used during the 19th Century. At that time, the primary vehicles of rapid communication were the daily newspaper, and the weekly or monthly magazine, fed by the wire services used by the press.

In the 20th Century, the capabilities of this Media Establishment were enhanced and extended by the development of the motion picture, the radio, and television. In these later days, the primary vehicles of communication were national and international broadcasting networks, and newsreels and other Hollywood offerings, fed by teams of reporters, commenters, artists, and producers.

Throughout the twentieth century, the Media Establishment has been mostly known through its stars of stage and screen, and its commentators. The news was passed down to us through the trusted voices and images of Huntley-Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and others like them. Most people, understandably enough, did not concern themselves with who owned the cameras, and who wrote the scripts.

But the history of the entire 20th century has shown that the Media Establishment has had a pronounced pro-war bias. ( Past generations — our great grandparents, and others — saw the sensationalized claims and counter-claims in the press that pushed whole nations toward wars. And some of them doubted the truth of those claims.  But what could they do, really? )  Of course the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II were the most obviously propagandized (they were all “good” wars in their day, saving democracy, saving civilization, and so forth); but the formula worked so well that it was re-used for every “post-War” war that came along, from Korea and Vietnam to Kuwait and Kosovo.

And what was — is — that Media Narrative Formula?  That formula is to create and maintain a flexible, plausible narrative that can and will be readily swallowed by the People:

A. Locate the suitable enemy du jour. Begin a process of marginalizing him. Claim the moral high ground.  He is not like us. He cannot be trusted. ( We, of course, can always be trusted. )

B. Demonize him: Visualize the danger, imagine the horror:  He throws babies out of hospital incubators onto the floor!  Use scare words like genocide, existential threat, and worse than Hitler.  He hates us for our freedoms.

C.   Scapegoat him.  If he can be eradicated, our problems will be solved and there will be a Much Better Day.

D. Once the war is underway, stifle all discussion and dissent.  There is No Other Way.  To doubt the rightness of the war-narrative is traitorous, treasonous, seditious.  War must be bi-partisan, yea, it must rise to a pure non-partisanship.  Dissenters should be locked up.  Whistle-blowers should be shot.  Our leaders are all wise.  Our officers are all noble.  We must do as we are told.  We must be willing to make great sacrifices for the Cause. We don’t negotiate with terrorists.  We just need to take over their economy.

This Narrative Formula has proved pretty successful, all the way up to the present.  It is the formula that was in play when Donald Trump began to campaign.  And the War Media has applied this formula not once but twice within the past months:

#1.Syrian Civil War

A.  The Enemy du Jour is “the Assad Regime” in Syria.

B.  Bashir Assad is the Demon.

C. If we can “wipe out” Assad, things will be much better.

D.  Nations like Russia, or Iran, or Turkey, who have different ideas, are Wrong.  And if they stand in our way, well, that’s Too Bad for Them.

#2. Dealing with Donald Trump.

The Narrative Situation: We have a noble war under way to bring Democracy to the Middle East. Now that we have succeeded so well in Afghanistan and Iraq, we want to bring the same blessings to Syria.  We had pretty well stifled discussion and dissent by our “cultivation,” shall we say, of both parties in Congress, until Donald Trump challenged the Narrative by challenging the buy-in of the Congressional Republicans.

The Current Problem:  There were two enemies of the Establishment Narrative that needed removal.  The first (and arguably most dangerous) was  Bernie Sanders.  But he has been taken care of.  For Now.  We Hope. That leaves Donald Trump as the Scapegoat, Demon, and Enemy du Jour.

So here is the current bi-party line:

  1.  Donald Trump has challenged the War Narrative. He has even mentioned negotiations with Vladimir Putin  ( Sin !  Treason !)  But that doesn’t seem to be quite enough to do the trick, so  . . .
  2. Donald Trump said something that Demeans Sacred Womanhood! ( Oh, Mortal Sin !  Oh Treachery Most Foul ! )
  3.  Away with him !

Yes, I remain a Christian with strong libertarian leanings and an abiding admiration for Ron Paul.

 

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6 comments on “The War Media vs. Trump

  1. Ben Carmack says:

    Dear Robert,

    With respect to the Syrian conflict, the foreign policy establishment (of both parties, hence the term “establishment”) sought an intervention in 2013. This intervention was blocked in Congress, with the help of our own Senator Rand Paul. President Obama himself had second thoughts and scuttled the plan. Vladimir Putin offered his own plan.

    Jeffrey Goldberg’s lengthy Atlantic piece on Obama’s foreign policy decisions during his presidency deals with Obama’s thinking here in great detail. It was a turning point where the president began to use his own judgment and defy his advisors. It’s also notable that Hillary Clinton was no longer Secretary of State by this time.

    I say all of that to make the simple point that the Syrian intervention was thwarted before Trump and without Trump. Indeed, it was thwarted rather easily. I’m not sure the media’s animosity for Trump is due to his opposition to Syrian intervention.

    Concerning Putin, do a search on YouTube for Peter Hitchens speaking and debating on the subject of Putin, Russia and the West. Hitchens is the younger brother of the late Christopher Hitchens. You’ll find it quite informative.

    Regards,

    • Robert Heid says:

      Ben, I quite agree with your take on the Syrian intervention. (But an exception: the Media (read CIA) desperately wanted, and still want, that intervention, and are still trying to force it, despite the proper reluctance of Obama.) I havent read the Goldberg or Hitchens articles — thanks for the tip — so I’ll try to look them up.

  2. jadams85 says:

    I agree with your take on The Narrative.

    And I must admit I sometimes almost enjoy the media’s jaw on the news desk gawking at some of The Donald’s statements.

    Still, he seems to me to be more of a plant to completely eviscerate any remaining shred of the Evangelical Right’s tattered credibility.

    He’s funny only to the extent that he is a living, breathing satire of the last 25 years of “Conservative” media and their rabble of talk radio personalities.

    The Evangelicals have long confused the kingdom of America with the Kingdom of Christ. They have wholeheartedly pledged idolatrous allegiance to the flag, our modern graven image. They have swallowed delusion after delusion. They have enthusiastically followed litanies of false prophets and false christs.

    Trump is simply the current conservative christ who promises to save the Promise Land of America from the immigrant Gentiles and the shame of appearing with less machismo and thus less threatening on the international stage.

    Trump is a neon, gold plated, be-sequined sepulchre.

    I hope that, stripped of all cultural significance, the Evangelical Right will begin pursuing the mind of Christ.

  3. drfuture2013 says:

    I believe that what you are addressing here is so important that I have already decided to make this theme – of what our eyes and ears tell us, how the brain is cultivated to fill in the blanks, and how sophisticated an operation it has become to control this – the main long term focus of my research, writing and consideration. I think it has direct spiritual implications. I cover a lot of this at length in Volume 2 of my book series.

    I close with an old quote about the ancient War Media and its affect on the public:

    “To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defense. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect…If an opponent made a reasonable speech, the party in power, so far from giving it a generous reception, took every precaution to see that it had no practical effect.”
    Greek philosopher Thucydides, History of Peloponnesian War, Book III, 3.82

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