Dr Frankenstein created a monster, and Rupert Murdoch’s people created Donald Trump, the candidate. One was fantasy, the other is all too real. Mike Fewster explains.
He wasn’t planned or anticipated. There is some reluctance and embarrassment now for the parents in acknowledging their own.
The relationship between the child and the parents is not completely comfortable. Some outcomes, however, are just the inevitable result of years of the preliminary activities.
Donald Trump isn’t a momentary error of the body politic. News Corp has been sowing the seed for many, many years. And that seed has been sown for purposes of meeting immediate needs rather than with due regard for long term consequences.
For most of us, right wing as well as left wing, it seems incomprehensible that Donald Trump is the nominated Republican Party candidate.
He provides no details about how his statements will be implemented as policies. He contradicts his own statements/policies from day-to-day. The various fact checker analysis reports that have become part of public discussion, can’t keep up with his rate of scoring Pinnochio points.
The man refuses to release his tax records. He can’t debate, can’t handle detail and demonstrates an abysmal grasp of foreign affairs.
Until very recently, such a candidate, left or right, would have been howled off the stage. And yet, here he is.
Observers and commentators are agreed that Trump and Brexit are signalling a new force, a substantial and growing number of voters who are disillusioned with the current political parties, institutions and processes.
This group is beyond the traditional political processes. They have no interest in analysing and weighing arguments or the possibility that maybe, here and there, the opponent might have a point.
This is tribal, gut response stuff.
More important than Trump, the person is considering how such a candidate is viable. I’d suggest that we need to pay more attention to the role of the international News Corp media.
When I was at primary school, my Grandfather visited. He would insist that each morning I sat with him and read what he called “the leading article” or Editorial, before we read anything of the news.
“Now,” he said, you know how to read this news. At the time, I didn’t get it but the habit stuck.
With News Corp you don’t need to read the editorials to understand the stance. It’s gloves off all the way, and boundaries between opinion and news reportage are blurred.
There’s little pretence of dispassionate, objective reportage with due consideration of the point of view of the other side. The argument no longer matters and attitude is everything.
Cherry-picking of facts from reports and personal attacks on the integrity of opposition voices are par for the course.
Rationale debate and science are sneered at and dismissed as ‘effete’ or ‘elitist’ or with that Australian News Corp speciality, “chardonnay sipping”.
In fairness to the world of Murdoch, News Corp is not completely to blame for this kind of journalism. Further, it should be acknowledged that some of the Murdoch stable retain the kind of quality journalism of which his father might have approved; right-wing but still working within recognizable journalistic conventions.
We are talking here of his tabloids and Fox news. Murdoch’s papers are responding to the kinds of internet pressures being applied to traditional media.
Newspaper circulation figures have fallen and continue to fall sharply. News Corp is playing the ratings game and that game is survival.
Once, we all read and argued over the content of the same two or three newspapers. Now readers can choose from many different sources and choose the content spin that reinforces their view of the world.
To stay afloat, newspapers need to get the attention of those readers. Journalistic ethics are the collateral damage.
The quick and dirty way to boost circulation is to provoke a response. Accuracy, logic and balance are time-consuming, and this is the era of the fast, catchy grab.
Note the increasing opportunities inviting a fast punchy reader responses, a one liner that will be added somewhere with the reader’s name.
Those responses count when you start to compile the figures on which you can set the price for advertising. That revenue is more important than the purchase price of a copy.
It really doesn’t matter how you do it, just so long as you get that response. Besides, these are opinion writers, and opinion writers are not bound by a code of journalistic ethics. And we do believe in “free speech” don’t we?
The right has its thinkers and elites and chardonnay sippers. They may draw back in alarm from Trump, but it’s too late. A sizeable number of Americans are no longer interested in political debate. You are with us or you are the enemy. If the enemy has facts you can’t answer, dismiss them as examples of more conspiracy or elitist stuff.
Trump feeds on this environment.
But even the News Corp media aren’t completely comfortable with Trump, he’s too much of a wild card. He looks all too likely to have the kinds of personal scandals around him that don’t make for a secure candidate.
About the only thing that looks reliable about him is confidence that he won’t increase taxes on the wealthy, and that might have to be enough.
News Corp promoted Trump’s gestation, and then provided the nursery. They have legitimised what was once unacceptable in the political and journalistic process.
Now we are all going to have to live with the Trumps and the siblings that will emerge from under the rocks.