The Everlasting Trumpgasm of the Corporate News Media

It’s been a little over a year since Donald Orange Glowy Face Trump announced his run for the presidency and unabashedly called Mexicans criminals and rapists. The day it happened, the news media erupted with coverage of the outrage that followed, and thoroughly doused us with all-Trump-all-the-time “coverage” (note that I don’t call it “news”) that continues to this very hour. I would hand every one of you a towel, but by now we’re all out of clean laundry. Corporate news media has made sure of that.

I hardly have to substantiate my claims. If you take five seconds to open CNN.com  or  HuffingtonPost.com  , you will find a virtual hot tub filled with the bacterial soup we’re supposed to consume as news. And it’s 99-to-1 odds that the morning headlines include Orange Glowy Face’s name, face or a reference to him.

But I don’t want to talk about Orange Glowy Face. I want to talk about his pimps.

Rest assured that CBS isn’t the only “news organization” that is swimming joyously and naked in a cement pond full of advertisers’ cash right now; all of the corporate-owned media monopolies are. Unfortunately for us, you can’t literally drown in cash. 

By now, everyone has heard Les Moonves, the chairman of CBS, now infamous comments regarding the Republican candidate for president. But let me remind you.

“It may not be good for America,” Moonves said of Trump’s campaign, “but it’s damn good for CBS.”

In short, it’s really easy to raise rates on t.v. commercials during the news shows if everyday there’s some outrageous soundbite from Orange Glowy Face. To quote Moonves one last time: “The money’s rolling in and this is fun.”

Rest assured that CBS isn’t the only “news organization” that is swimming joyously and naked in a cement pond full of advertisers’ cash right now; all of the corporate-owned media monopolies are. Unfortunately for us, you can’t literally drown in cash.

America, this is your source for the news. As for objectivity and truth, well, if it’s exciting, bloody, outrageous, sexy, well, sure, then they’ll broadcast the truth. If not, well, there’s no money in that, kids. How could you be so naive?

Think about it for a moment. These “news organizations” that are owned by a handful of business conglomerates are broadcasting or posting the news for profit, not for the public good. Spare me the lessons on my own naivete for believing that any business has an obligation to something as idealistic as the “public good.” If you don’t believe that businesses with 24-hour broadcasting rights should be regulated to prevent the very dangerous possibility of propaganda, then you are demonstrating far too much faith in the humanitarian impulses of profit-driven capitalists. I’m not suggesting cynicism here; I’m suggesting pragmatism. If someone’s ability to make a profit has no ethical restraints, you are inviting them to not have much ethical restraint.

I’m not suggesting cynicism here; I’m suggesting pragmatism. If someone’s ability to make a profit has no ethical restraints, you are inviting them to not have much ethical restraint. 

A news media with very few ethical restraints is exactly what we have in the United States today. Rules such as the  Fairness Doctrine  and the  Equal Time Rule  no longer truly hold news media accountable for airing opposing views on news issues or for providing equal time on air for political opponents. The Fairness Doctrine was abandoned. The Equal Time Rule is rife with loopholes. And the  Telecommunications Act of 1996  “drastically reduced important Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations on cross ownership, and allowed giant corporations to buy up thousands of media outlets across the country, increasing their monopoly on the flow of information in the United States and around the world.”

As a result, we have fewer and fewer real options for our news, which means fewer and fewer opportunities to hear competing views of our politics, our society and the ever so hard to determine “truth.” The people whose job was once – at least as far as laws could assure it – to give us objective assessments of world events are now mandated by their corporate chiefs to  make news that makes money .

These same media conglomerates also discovered that replacing scripted dramas and comedies with so-called “reality shows” was a lot cheaper because you didn’t have to pay writers. As a result, for almost two decades, we have been fed hour after hour of prime-time programming that more often than not generates conflict (artificially) among colorful and frequently ill-mannered faux celebrities by offering them a cash prize for treating each other like mortal enemies. After all, it’s a lot more exciting to drop a piranha in your thriving fish tank than it is to just add another goldfish.

As a result, we grow more and more immune to rude and selfish behavior. Generations of kids grew up on these shows. Scores of adults revel in these orchestrated pissing contests night after night, week after week, year after year. You spend your lunch hours debating who should win, who’s the biggest jerk, who’s the most conniving, and who you think is sexiest. Too infrequently do we ask why we find this entertaining at all. In fact, in my experience, it’s far too much like going to work. I know that there are large proportions of people who live by the dog-eat-dog mantra of I’ll get mine and then I’ll get yours. Watching it on t.v. is uncomfortable, especially when I know it’s little more than the 21st century version of a gladiator fight. It’s a cruel distraction, not an enlightening entertainment.

…for almost two decades, we have been fed hour after hour of prime-time programming that more often than not generates conflict (artificially) among colorful and frequently ill-mannered faux celebrities by offering them a cash prize for treating each other like mortal enemies. After all, it’s a lot more exciting to drop a piranha in your thriving fish tank than it is to just add another goldfish. 

Which sounds familiar when we think about this presidential campaign, particularly Orange Glowy Face’s part in it. (Not that I’ve learned much from Secretary Clinton either, but she’s less reality t.v. and a lot more wafer-thin groupthink  .) What the corporate media has discovered in the Republican nominee is pure money-making political pornography. They have a candidate so outrageous, so forbidden, so unacceptable, yet so much a part of the popular culture that they can air him without much of any public backlash. When there is a backlash,  well, even better because that sells even more advertising .

Let’s be honest, the news media doesn’t care one tiny fucking iota whether or not they’re airing an aspiring fascist egomaniac. They are in it 100% for the money and the money is crazy good right now. Is airing or posting stories about this self-serving, lying plutocrat good for you and me? Dear god, no. But trust me that if they could air cigarette ads day and night, these same corporate media monsters would do it because drug addiction sells almost as well as pornography. Your lungs and democracy are the least of their concerns.

I won’t take the time to single out any news anchors or pundits who may actually have our best interests at heart because there are so few of them in mainstream media. To get a sense of just how jaded even our news personalities (not reporters, because so few report rather than opine) have become about their business, just look at the long line of formerly respected “journalists” lured away from more balanced networks to work for FOX News, the most divisive and antagonistic propaganda machine in America. And more recently, look at CNN hiring Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, as a commentator. Other networks, sadly, are becoming more like FOX News. Even when these people seem well-intentioned, they’re still conditioned by their employers to blow news events out of proportion to their true importance, and to ignore or underreport more significant but less glamorous news.

What the corporate media has discovered in the Republican nominee is pure money-making political pornography. They have a candidate so outrageous, so forbidden, so unacceptable, yet so much a part of the popular culture that they can air him without much of any public backlash. 

Thus, with the confluence of news-for-profit, “reality” entertainment by petty conflict, and news “personalities” rather than unabashed journalists, we find ourselves this election cycle enduring the humiliating and unending Trumpgasm. He’ll love the metaphor. God knows if he ever hears it he’ll use it in a speech. And then the news will play it on auto-repeat in headlines and soundbites like a pornographic Mobius strip.

But don’t blame Trump. Blame the corporate news media, his unashamed and greedy pimps. And whatever you do, keep a towel handy. I hang mine over the t.v.

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