If we’re going to have a conversation about Trump’s assertions of being misrepresented by the media and ‘post truth’ politics and all that shebang then the media have to accept that they opened the door. Politicians lie. We know they do . They do it all the time and they have done so, almost certainly, forever. Politicians are among the most distrusted people in society. The press are not far behind. Politicians lie because they know that the media don’t hold them to account. Some of the media might but a whole load of them won’t and in that conflict the truth is of less importance than the headlines.
Some of the public believe what they want to believe; they buy/read the newspapers that reinforce their already formed opinions or that present tales that exploit already formed opinions. If your readership don’t like foreigners then blame foreigners for everything; your readership get their prejudice reinforced and you get to obfuscate the truth and divert blame away from those really responsible. The press lie to us. We know they do. They do it all the time and have done so, almost certainly, forever. People don’t believe the press … except for when they are, in some way, reinforcing our already formed opinions.
The BBC’s senior political editor was recently found out for having cynically manipulated an interview with Britain’s leader of the opposition to misrepresent his views on the use of force by police in response to terrorism. An interview with the opposition leader was edited in such a way to make it seem as if he was answering a question on the supposed ‘shoot to kill’ policy when, in fact he was not. The purpose of the political editor’s “report” was to discredit the opposition leader. The BBC have admitted that their senior political editor is guilty for having done so. It is an example of a time when this particular senior political editor falsified a “news” report to deceive the public in an attempt to discredit the leader of the opposition to the British government; a political act. It is unclear how many of the other accusations against this senior political editor for having acted in a prejudicial and biased manner would also be proven if properly investigated.
Accusations of a bias at the BBC for the Conservative party are, in my opinion, potentially unfounded. It is my suspicion that the BBC have staff representative of either political leaning and a pro government bias rises, whomever is in power. The BBC, after all, is stocked with ‘establishment’ figures and has always been so. You fish in a small pond then you tend to get tiddlers; the creativity that floats above the surface rather disguises the ingrained ‘establishment’ who crowd the corridors. The BBC have a problem with bias towards the ‘establishment’ and whatever political winds that are blowing.
If one of the most respected brands in world news is party to creating fake news, what confidence can the public have that there are any sources of ‘news’ not tainted by vested interest? That is the world Donald Trump’s post truth resides within.
During the campaigns for the Scottish Independence Referendum and the EU Referendum, lies were trotted out from all sides and all areas of the media were party to them. We all knew that the £350million for the NHS was a lie, which it has 100% been proven to be, and yet politicians were content to give press conferences in front of it and give interviews on a bus adorned with it. Why? Lying to the public is not an offence that politicians need fear because there is no accountability. Just as a politician can defraud taxpayers through illicit expenses claims and simply hand the money back if caught, without facing punishment. Equally, how many in the media went to jail over the phone hacking crimes? Why are editors and owners of the rags that peddle lies content to continue doing so? They face no accountability.
There is agitation/outrage among journalists that Trump’s press officer lied to them over the inauguration, they should express as much outrage over the corruption of their own ‘news’ outlets and accept that the media are as much to blame for the rise of President Trump and Fascist Britain as the PR firms who skulk behind them.
What Trump can’t be accused of is having run a dishonest campaign. He presented America with the worst possible being to be President, said the worst things possible without facing legal charges, and people still elected him. Trump even called Republican voters dumb and said he could just lie and they’d eat it up and still vote for him …. but did he? CNN don’t seem to think so or do they or don’t they? Who knows. The problem is not that we are being constantly lied to by the politico-media circus (well, that is quite a big problem) but that they face no accountability for it. A deal has been struck between politicians and the media, neither will really hold the other to account. The current leader of Britain’s opposition has pledged to end that and to break up the control of the media by the billionaire barons who control our press and our politicians. The same opposition leader that the BBC’s senior political editor has attempted to discredit and whom the press are hell bent to see ousted. Our media are vehement opponents of a senior politician who would actually break the politico-media circus but, in trying to protect their own status, they have opened the door to the likes of Trump and the rise of the extreme Right in Britain and are now crying foul.
It’s not the ‘news’ that’s the problem, it’s the lack of accountability.
If I sold you a pill and told you that it would give you a ‘beach body’ and perfect teeth but it couldn’t, I’d be prosecuted. If the pill was also harmful to you, I’d be jailed (hopefully). Our politicians and media face less accountability than someone who would sell you slimming pills but who would argue this guy hasn’t done more harm?