The Great Media Divide
Washington, Dec. 8, 1941. The alleged Japanese attack yesterday on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor has resulted in cries around the country for President Franklin Roosevelt to ask Congress to declare war against the Empire of Japan and guarantee an inevitable triumph.
However, major newspapers and at least one broadcast outlet are questioning the accuracy of the reports of the attack. Ronald Dumph, an aspiring presidential candidate, says he doesn’t know who attacked Pearl Harbor. He says it could have been a 400-pound gorilla. Nobody really knows.
Dumph added that the U.S. should be friends with Japan—it’s a good thing. He feels the same way about Germany, whose leader, Adolf Hitler, he admires for making Germany great again. He says Herr Hitler enjoys the unbridled admiration of the German Nazis, which is more than you can say for some American leaders. Dumph has a thing for strongmen. He likes generals and people in uniform. He loves Mussolini because he made the trains run on time. Dumph rarely rides trains, but he enjoys striking Mussolini poses.
Dumph reportedly gets most of his information from Doc’s News. He doesn’t read newspapers but goes with his gut instincts, which are always right. He says we should get along with the Germans because it’s a good thing, and they also have cool uniforms. And he loves the heil Hitler salute. He doesn’t trust the Pearl Harbor reports because he says the media is the enemy of the people—unless it loves him.
Other sources say the evidence that the attackers were Japanese is compelling, including the fact that the airplanes had big red meatball insignia, and several crashed planes had guidebooks to Palm Beach in the cockpits written in Japanese, and empty sake bottles. Dumph, who does not drink, calls those reports “fake news” and prefers listening to the 160 radio stations that are owned by Kamikaze Media, reportedly a division of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Group. Its stations tend to oppose anything President Roosevelt wants to do, and think—if the Japanese really did attack—we probably had it coming.
OK, you get the point. Older Americans recall a time when you could watch the evening news, and whether you saw Huntley-Brinkley on NBC, Walter Cronkite on CBS or Peter Jennings on ABC, you got pretty much the same story, and you could believe it. Those TV pioneers gained our trust and conditioned people to accept as true what they saw on TV or heard on news radio. If it was on TV, it must be true.
Alas, that conditioning has led to abuse. Mainstream TV news on the big three networks is still pretty straight, but with the growth of cable, we have seen a trend toward presenting opinion as fact. It is an old idea, actually, used by Hitler, Mussolini and Japanese leaders. It is called propaganda.
Forgive me if I am a bit sensitive on this subject. I interviewed and wrote about the man who started it all —long before Roger Ailes insulted the aforementioned newsmen by launching Fox News. Ailes was in Philadelphia and had just starred in Joe McGinniss’ best-selling book, The Selling of The President-1968. The book described how Ailes ran a phony campaign, isolating Richard Nixon from the real press while staging rigged town halls in which Nixon answered prepared questions. And he won the election.
Ailes told me at the time that the media was controlled by Democrats, and made no secret that he wished for an outlet showing the other side. He got it decades later when he launched Fox News. That network was never “fair and balanced,” but it was tolerably mainstream at first. No more. It has become increasingly biased, so bad that it is now being described as state-controlled news, consistently distorting the facts of any story with political implications, promoting wild rumors, supporting Trump’s outrageous attacks on the media and government agencies such as the Justice Department and FBI—anything to please its favorite viewer, President Trump.
The corruption has gone beyond reporting. The sex abuse scandals of its execs, starting with the late Ailes himself, have been sensational. It is true that there are some dissenting voices at Fox, but they are despised by many in its audience, for whom Fox is their sole source of information.
Fortunately, there are signs that state sponsorship is beginning to fail. Some key personalities and contributors have left the network, unable to tolerate the culture. It is part of a general resistance to Trump propaganda. The governor of Oregon says she will refuse to send national guard troops to the Mexican border. She may not have the final say on that, but the point is made. Defiance. Let us hope that a cure is found for the great media divide before we have another Pearl Harbor.