Mindset is made of gristle, a sinewy and fibrous tissue hardened by constant bruising against contradictory realities. More hardened than most is a perspective once true but changed gradually over time.
Take for example, those of us who grew up in the nineteen sixties when network news and both local and national newspapers were muscular and proudly independent, and their very independence considered one of the prime pillars forming the superstructure of democracy. Edward R. Murrow’s investigative reporting changed national consciousness, as did (non “embedded”) reporting from the battle zone in Viet Nam. It meant something when ousted Vice President, Spiro T. Agnew, complained that the press were a bunch of “nabobs of negativism.” The negative was his corruption.
We have all watched the corporate take-over of news media, whether network and cable news, newspapers, or the gobbling up of local radio stations into a very few national conglomerates. Except for NPR, they were always for-profit so advertising and the bottom line are nothing new. The difference seems to be that before, in the old days, news was considered a public service and a lost-leader to hook consumers into their other programs so the newsroom didn’t have to make a profit. No longer – even though they get to rent public airwaves there is no public service any more.
Bernie Sanders has been blacked out by corporate media, left and right – of which this is actually no left and mostly center or right. His black out has been well documented, which you can read more about in a New York Times column this past week. We can only speculate the reasons for this but the obvious one is that Bernie is an effective prophet of public morality and the prosecution of corporate immorality.
The Millennial’s, who favor Bernie by 85%, have no yellowed mindset to change because they have never seen or used corporate media as a primary news source. Because they get their news from less centrally and profit controlled locations, he was not blacked out to them.
We see it also in the painfully obvious, and much reported on but unchanged phenomenon, that Donald Trump receives enormous attention from the news because he is a spectacle, and therefore an audience attraction, and therefore a profit-incentive. If Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a bat every night on television and it garnered an audience – both the bloodthirsty and the outraged – the profit-driven media would should it. So Donald Trump does and says more and more disturbing things and he gets more and more attention.
I mention this because even though we have been watching this reality move into place and dominate the neighborhood since the mid-seventies – ironically, not long after the Washington Post brought us Watergate – I keep being surprised and outraged as if something different was supposed to happen. Honestly, it is no different than listening to the radio and expecting something other than mass-produced pop music to get airtime.
So now we seem condemned to the balkanization of news reporting so that people tune into the source that reinforces their point of view and the hardening of mindsets becomes both acute and chronic. Reconciliation and healing cannot take place among people that disagree when we do not participate in and share the same conversation.
This is just one of the logical conclusions of capitalism.
When cultural and social norms are guided primarily by private enterprise, the end result will be social fragmentation and hostility. There is no end in sight to what we are experiencing now so long as there is no strong and progressive counter-veiling power (federal government) to mega-corporations.