The People v The Media
If there is one huge chunk of reality blatantly unveiled by the US presidential election and Donald Trump’s shock win last Tuesday, it is the way a massive wave of voters, i.e. the American people of their own free will chose to completely ignore both the
There are many other facets of that feat to be discussed, but the issue of media influence is, of course, of prime interest to yours truly. Where has all the presumed power gone? National media institutions, from newspapers, radio and TV stations to the thriving “transformers” of the social media, came out openly against the Republican candidate, some of them even openly ignoring their staunchly conservative past to endorse Hillary Clinton, in their hitherto vocabulary “a libertarian”. This incredible switch of historic proportions occurred at a time when even Trump’s own party was supposedly committing collective political suicide, with most of the old guard publicly opposing his becoming the US’ 45th president.
For Trump to have overcome this conglomeration of forces, despite his exposed past and ludicrous prejudices, goes to show that there has been an obvious shift in the public’s perception of the media and people no longer need the media to hold their hands on issues that interest and affect them directly. Yes, they’re willing to listen to and read different views and to be able to analyse and compare, but they now have a mind of their own and won’t be swayed by the “intelligent” natter of this media guru or that political pundit, in print or on TV.
Some people have likened the situation to the Brexit vote in the UK. Not exactly. On that occasion, the British media had been, in their vast majority, all out for a Brexit result and they got it. The one stark similarity, aside from common roots of jingoistic policies and outright prejudices, was in the fact that the outside world was totally against what eventually became the outcome of the vote.
It is easy for many of us to consign the whole issue to “ignorance” on the part of the voters, which is in itself a Trump-like insult. But there are truths that the world, this tottering world, needs to acknowledge at this moment in time, one of which has been cited by none other than the odious Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska. Like many others, she quickly compared the Brexit vote to Trump’s success in the US election, but her most telling reaction was when she said, “Britain and the US are going rogue.”
Of course had it been any other nation other than the US and the UK, Palin would have referred to them as “pariahs”. Somehow “rogues” sounds more positive, even revolutionary in this juxtaposed world political scenario.
Given what the media and the Clinton circus were saying throughout most of the campaign, especially in the latter stage when Wikileaks was publishing thousands of revealing emails, Putin and his Russians should have been the first to come out dancing to the music of their balalaikas in the middle of Red Square. Does it mean the Americans, who gave Trump the presidency and control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, couldn’t care less that the Russians were “hacking” the whole US establishment and, in the most recent of empty NATO jargon, even contemplating an invasion of their allies in Europe?
The People v the Media is not confined to the US. Media ownership and “sponsorship” no longer guarantee success. The more educated the electorate, the more it is inclined to reach its own conclusions as we have seen locally on several occasions. Traditionally, powerful institutions, like the Church, conservative political parties and rich, influential families, have been bluntly shoved into this realisation. One can now easily see why most of them – as portrayed in our history books – had once been vehemently opposed to free education.
The media’s role has not been usurped, but it has certainly been emasculated. It can no longer project an “evangelical” image, but more that of a platform for discussion, analysis and, as from its inception, the dissemination of news and events. President Elect Trump will gleefully vouch for all that.
As for Hillary Clinton, I could not resist going down memory lane and recalling her quip when she lost her nomination bid to Barrack Obama in 2008 – “I can always become president of Malta”. The lady wouldn’t have made history here, either. We had our first woman president in 1982 and our incumbent is a woman too.
Flogging a dead horse in politics has never been wise. It is true that many people want to stick to principles and traditions they have believed in for most of their lives, but there will always come the day when change has to be accepted. This fact applies to political parties and politicians everywhere and the successful ones are always those who acknowledge it and do something about it.
When an issue is dead, such as divorce, nationalisation, and so on, it becomes anathema to sensible parties and politicians willing to change with the times. Those who dig trenches often end up on the scrap heap as we have seen with so many such examples all over Europe, particularly in Italy, Germany, France and Italy.
There is of course the cycling and re-cycling of ideas and methods, often depending on the public mood of the day, but when the laws of science are challenged, it all develops into a meaningless charade. A case in point is the Nationalist Opposition’s continued resistance to the change that is occurring in the energy sector. Beyond any allegations of dubious deals of the past and the present, it is a proven scientific fact that gas as an energy source is not only cheaper but also much safer and cleaner. So why the senseless persistence on the previous government’s inexplicable choice of heavy fuel oil, now thankfully reversed as we move to gas generation?
The whole energy issue has been a source of national intrigue for far too long and it is now time to accept realities. The whole of Europe is doing so.