A recent Gallup poll noted that Americans are losing confidence in mainstream media. As technology advances, so does knowledge. We are witnessing a greater capacity to achieve global knowledge than any generation before us. As such, we are not content to study history or lose ourselves in fiction: rather, we long for current events, relevant stories, and news about the world around us. Right now. Today.
So what happens when our sources of knowledge, with all the technological advances and communications at their disposal, decide what our news should be? In the United States and Europe, media outlets such as CNN and the BBC have eyes and ears all over the world. Reporters are provided stories of victories, triumph amidst adversity, and genocidal terrorist organizations intent on eradicating entire nationalities, ethnicities, and religious people in the name of service to a “god” they think desires that.
In my time traveling in the Middle East, it took one week to learn of a small village in northern Iraq where a mere 10 farmers fought off 70 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants to provide their families time to escape before the terrorist organization invaded their home. They were victorious and nearly every family was able to escape before IS came back. Yet, to learn of this story, I was not even privy to the vast resources of a Western news outlet, so we can only imagine what foreign reporters and correspondents are able to learn every day.
But these are exactly the stories we don’t hear. Most mainstream media outlets with the largest audiences are no longer run by multiple companies or those with a passion to gain and spread knowledge from a variety of opinions. Rather, they are run by a select elite in the US – those with goals to manipulate, to paint a picture, and spread a narrative that their unwitting subjects must be told. In 1983, over 50 companies owned the mainstream media. Today it is six.
Voices that stray from the desired narratives are silenced and replaced with those willing to feed into it, and at the end of the line, we become fed by a story of the world around us that is not based in an encompassing reality of multiple important issues, but instead, is centered on certain small, unimportant storylines with our emotions and opinions left as the victims. The narratives are the stories to achieve a desired sentiment in an audience, while media “main characters” are those actors that must always be the central focus of any story today that gets its global audience. Any story – no matter how great, important, or pertinent to today’s world – that does not seemingly include the “main characters” is, therefore, not a story at all. It seems to be brushed aside, forgotten, as its place in the narrative does not fit without the main characters.
I never noticed the obvious nature of the main character in mainstream news articles, nor did I pay attention when certain stories catapulted to the top of the news headlines while others seemed to immediately fade away. Today, however, it has become impossible to search for any story outside the current main characters: Donald Trump and Russia.
These are the two main characters that must always be the top story with all other global events, policies, and stories following woefully far down the line. As a human rights attorney and specialist in international crimes and foreign policy, it is the most ridiculous show of media manipulation I’ve ever experienced. Certainly, that’s not to state that stories of true worth and value occurring which involve Russia or President Trump should not make news. That is not the issue. The issue is what happens when all events or matters of global importance are shielded in favor of anything that involves Trump or Russia. When it becomes impossible to ascertain the world around us without stumbling across 25 articles on the main characters, there is now a serious problem. In a world where we are at the highest peak of communication and information gathering, we have become a people content with knowing very little because we have very few options.
The purpose of this piece is not to call out the mainstream media outlets of the West, but rather to highlight the dangers in continuing down a path where the people allow a handful of voices to dictate their emotions and what “should” matter in the world.
MSM psychosis about Trump’s every move
No world leader has been afforded more media coverage in the United States than Donald Trump. Certainly, no one expected his opponents (whether domestically or abroad) to lose the US 2016 election gracefully, but the rate at which mainstream media psychosis surrounding every tweet, breath, or allegedly questionable action of Donald Trump immediately takes precedence in all main news outlets, daily. Our mainstream outlets have become so obsessed with Trump that stories of war, famine, destruction, terrorism, rape, murder, persecution and even stories of triumph and employment and success have all taken a back seat to a story about a porn star whose faltering national tour became a sensational hit because she may have had an affair with Trump in 2006, and he may have asked her to not speak about it.
North and South Korea are, for the first time since the 1950s, set to announce an official “end” to the Korean War, but in America our news wants us to know every facet of Stormy Daniels as we glorify her bravery for wanting to speak about sex with the president while her public persona skyrockets into infamy – a woman whose career has centered on making money through, with, and because of sex. I’m saddened for the country I call home because we don’t even question the process of what makes a story worth blocking out an entire news cycle for.
We no longer care about what matters most in this world or protecting those who cannot speak for themselves. Sure there are those of us who change the channel, but we have chosen either to be fed the stories blindly while our emotions are manipulated, or we blindly choose to not follow anything at all; having lost hope that we can actually gather knowledge through conventional, mainstream methods.
‘Russia meddling’: Americans told they are too stupid to incite their own opinions
The leader of Russia and all its officials have little duty to the rest of the world. Their main duty is to protect the people of Russia as well as their citizens’ interests. (As an aside, that’s also the duty of every nation state leader.) Yet, since the election of Trump to the White House, the narrative has been that Russia’s main interests lay in the United States, its leadership, and its survival (or destruction). In America, the mainstream media audiences so enamored by that narrative began to believe that Russia has no other interest but to manipulate America’s way of life, and in 2016, its election.
Take the 2016 election story coverage and the ominous “election meddling” scandals that refused to leave the television of every CNN nightly story for at least a year. In reality, no evidence of poll meddling or actual voter fraud ever surfaced or was even provided as probable cause. What was eventually provided was a dozen “hacker” accounts or “bots” set up to highlight political differences within the people. Now even if this was something remotely tied to a Russian government, did US news outlets attempt to conclude what was actually being presented? Stories of social clashes, violence from Black Lives Matter protests or other real local and state stories simply being posted on social media in the US, which (“experts” noted) was meant to manipulate US voters in the election.
So to be clear, the mainstream media told the American people that we were too stupid to incite our own opinions and emotions, and because we saw a few posts we were fooled into thinking we needed to vote someone else into office. Yet without any sort of reasonable analysis on the media, the story remained “look what Russia did,” “look what Trump and Russia did,” “look what Trump’s people are doing with Russia,” when the story should have been, “why have the American people allowed ourselves to be so filled with hate and animosity over social and political issues that we are incapable of reaching a civilized societal status? When did we become so easily manipulated by any story we read, no matter where that story appears?”
The more disconcerting fact of this is that what “Russia” was accused of nightly for nearly a year on every major media outlet is exactly what every major media outlet does daily in today’s news. There seem to be mainstream stories about Russia when any true expert in global policy will conclude that all recent alleged “scandals” of Russia have, in fact, been carried out simultaneously and in the past by nearly all powerful countries – in most cases, much worse stories. Certainly, this is not to exonerate Russia or any other country from any actual instance of corruption or bad faith in action. The point is much deeper than that. The question we should be asking is, “why is Russia all we ever hear about today?” rather than, “why is Russia doing so much?”
Where are the stories of persecution or the resurgence of IS, the recent dictatorial strides of multiple modern democracies looking to silence opponents? It is occurring everywhere. It merely looks different depending on where you look.
Perhaps this is one effect of the mass globalization we’ve seen in recent years coming to a tipping point. No world system founded on a basis of state sovereignty can ever expect a smooth transition to a globalized structure, because interests of the people will always need to be heard, if they are afforded the chance. There must always be a controlling hand making sure the loudest voices of the (much) larger population are being provided parallel stories to ensure smooth operations in societies throughout Europe and North America.
While “we the people” has always been a hallmark of the United States’ founding, most civilized nations contain similar mantras supporting the voices of the people to be prosperous, safe, and secure in their cultural homeland and society, free from anything and anyone that may threaten that safety or security. But our voices, our thoughts are only as informed as what we are provided. And until the mainstream takes a backseat to the truth in objective media outlets without mandatory scripts, we will be forced to search much harder to learn about our world and the issues that matter most. We must conduct extensive research to understand the underpinnings of policy and global injustices in order to grasp the knowledge our ancestors made sure we would be able to find. Perhaps, despite our technological advances, we are actually living in a time where we must learn to rely less on what the loudest sources are declaring, and venture back to a time where the people learned to work for true knowledge.