Debate: The media is the message…

So it has come to pass. Instead of writing about important public policy issues, the story is about the feud between Fox News (or the Ministry of Right-Wing Propaganda) and presidential candidate Donald Trump.

As much as I hate the term “media” to refer to all who work in the field of journalism — I mean it is a pejorative used to deflect criticism of ideas and actions. You just blame it on “the media” — I have to admit, just as someone wrote decade ago, that the “media is the message”.

I’ll get back to that, but for now I want to say:

I think it would be refreshing to hear the Republican candidates give their views without the distracting presence of Donald Trump, even if they have not given any indication they have any good new ideas and even if all they seem to be able to do is bash President Obama.

It is disheartening that someone so crass, base, conniving (He even admits he just lies and bluffs to make deals — so why does anyone ever work with him?) as Donald Trump could garner so much support (at least indicated by polling and those crazy people who seem not to care about his inconsistencies and his poor manners and his outright dangerous talk. They just want a strong man in power.).

There is some indication of late, I think, that all of that may be falling apart. One theory is that he is skipping the debate to avoid embarrassing questions from Ted Cruz and others on his inconsistencies. He is way ahead in the polls and figures he can stay that way if he dodges that challenge.

(Some think he will attend after all though. Just another publicity stunt.)

But what really disturbs me is how these broadcast personalities and a broadcast network, Fox, have made themselves almost more important than the candidates or other people or issues in the news. Marshall McLuhan wrote back in 1964 that the “medium is the message” not the content or those reported about.

I was first introduced to this while taking a journalism class at a community college. I was preparing to go into that quaint institution called the print media, newspapers. Even then, in 1972, I think it was, my instructor predicted some form of electronic newspaper was just on the horizon and conventional newspapers were on their way out.

Don’t want to get into a discussion on all of that, though. I mean there are a whole bunch of positives about print on the internet (and negatives too), and I love being able to blog. My qualms are with TV and even radio and its so-called journalism which seems to have gone almost entirely to the entertainment side.

Once upon a time the big three TV networks made no money on news but were required by FCC rules to carry it (I think I am correct in that). They also felt it gave them prestige to be presenters of the news. Some of the original broadcast news presenters were old newspaper hands. The story was more important than the personality presenting it. Although I have to admit, even from the get go, there is or was an element of personality in it all, that cannot be helped.

But finally when the networks found they could make money on news, entertainment took over.

I wish that we could have something like C-Span present formal debates, where topics were assigned and men and women faced off against each other, one on one, and presented their arguments and defended them in a formal structure without a TV personality injecting his or her personality into it, just truly moderating.

We could still have news talk shows with all the talking heads. I enjoy those too.

But the message should be the issues and the candidates, not those who are supposed to be reporting on them.

 

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