There is an argument that we live in a novel political environment in which the mass media is the political authority. They get on an issue and the political and corporate classes respond to it. We saw this with the George Floyd story that was orchestrated by the big media operations. On the other hand, political actors will seed the media with fake stories hoping they will put it into their megaphones. The Russian collusion hoax cooked up by team Clinton is an example.
A couple of weeks back, Tucker Carlson observed that most Republicans wake up in the morning and go to the New York Times. They and their staff read the thing over breakfast, because it is their guide throughout the day. This is true of mainstream conservatives as well. What passes for the Right in America is entirely controlled by the Left, which is controlled by the media. Old school liberals sound like Trump people when they complain about how the media runs their party.
There is a lot of truth to the media-ocracy claim. The backers of the Ukraine fiasco have been feeding the media nonsense tales about Ukraine. They handed them Ukraine lapel pins they had made up for the occasion. Note no one in the media looked into who supplied everyone on television with those pins. Instead, it was a unified media voice, a wall of sound, selling the Ukraine story. Washington and the political class in Europe were swept up in this unfolding disaster.
The thing is though, the Russia hoax makes clear that the media does not have a coordinated center. The details of the hoax have been supplied in the court case against Clinton crony Michael Sussman. He relied upon confidence men like Franklin Foer, who exist to inject false narratives into the media echo system. Once these fake stories get loose, they rocket around the system, repeated by the sociopaths who are attracted to life in the media echo system.
Further proof of the passive nature of the media system is the war in Ukraine, a place few in the media can find on a map. There are three observable trends in the coverage of the war thus far. One is there are few Western reporters trying to cover the war on the ground in Ukraine. They went over for the photo-ops when it started but made sure to stay in Kiev. They quickly went back to their countries and left the reporting to contractors and interested think tanks.
That is the other thing about the media response to the war. The work-at-home war correspondents now do their reporting from press releases issued by outfits like the Institute for the Study of War. Alternatively, they rely on Ukrainians on the payroll of the American of British intelligence services. In both cases, a five minute search on-line would reveal these sources to be entirely fake. Instead, they just pass on the information without bothering to question any of it.
The lack of original reporting and reliance on single sources with narrow agendas has resulted in a uniform opinion in the media. Even the so-called conservative media, which took off their American flag pins and put on the Ukraine pin, repeated the same stories from the same sources as if it was holy writ. What the Ukraine story reveals is the media echo system operates like a murmuration of starlings, rushing through the news cycle in response to external stimulus.
This reality will lead some to assume this system is controlled by a tiny cabal of deep state actors in a hollowed out volcano. In reality, the people trying to inject their special brand of poison into the system are often tangled in the system. The Covid panic is the perfect example. It was people hoping for media recognition who kept injecting ridiculous claims into the system. These were not deep state players, but often just ordinary people hoping for fifteen minutes of fame.
The “frontline workers” posting their made up tales of woe on social media is the perfect example of how small players can move the media swarm. Hoping for attention, nurses and doctors started positing on social media stories that made them look like selfless heroes trying to save Covid victims. This psychosis, and it was a form of psychosis, was picked up by the media and amplified. These fake stories became fact, which spawned new fake stories made up by media members.
The Covid hoax, and it is fair to call it a hoax at this point, was not the result of clever scheming like the Russian collusion hoax. Instead, it was something like a stampede over a cliff. Unlike the animals in the herd, the people in this media stampede could question the rush over the cliff, but like the animals in the herd, they feared being trampled more than they feared the end result. As a result, fantasy became holy writ and Covid turned into a bizarre mass media religion.
In a way, the berserk obsession with disinformation and misinformation is not entirely motivated by malice toward the general public. The people running the New York Times and Washington Post still cling to the old myths about the media. They think they should be the cynics not falling for their hoaxes. They sort of get the problem, but they lack the proper perspective from their position inside the swarm to see that it is the nature of the swarm, what makes it possible, that is the problem.
It is tempting to think that at some point the public will get wise to the fake news and this madness will come to an end. If no one believes what is in the media, then the media’s ability to shape the news comes to an end. The trouble with this theory is most people have already figured out that the news is fake. The Ukraine war is a prime example, as most people never cared enough about it to listen to the story. Public apathy and skepticism have not changed the behavior of the media.
Instead, what we may be heading to in the short run is a world in which the mass media operates like an on-line role playing game for the managerial class. They get to play the various quests that get created in the media echo system. Since they live in a consequence free world, as in they never pay the price for their error, they are free to explore their dreams within these fantasies. Once the quest is over, they transition to a new quest or maybe play a different character.
We see this happening with Ukraine. As it becomes clear that this story will not end well for Ukraine or the Europeans, the players are looking for a new quest. Joe Biden’s heroic management of the economy through the Putin-Trump inflation spiral looks like a fun new expansion pack. Maybe they play the China as dangerous dragon add-on that came with the Covid edition. Maybe someone is about to release something entirely different and inject it into the media echo system.
The result is we are headed to a world in which the normal people go about their lives as best they can. Every once in a while, they will take notice of the streaming role playing game that keeps the managerial class busy. That will usually happen when the role players mistake their world for the real world, gas prices and baby food shortages being two current examples. Otherwise, the managerial class is becoming a virtual world, a metaverse to occupy an otherwise worthless ruling elite.
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