“So who did? Who opened the Pandora’s Box of Trump’s seething nativism with its flying monkeys of hate and fear? Who kept giving an inch, capitulating another step, looking away when eyes should have been wide open? Who ignored the creeping cancer? Who let the dogs out?
“Certainly the media is complicit… colluders of the highest order. In the 2.0 world of our ‘news sharing industries,’ the slavish need for clicks and viral popularity has driven most, if not all, media outlets — cable, print, radio, online — to sell their souls for clickbait (clickbait equals dollars). Trump is, literally, walking clickbait and the media has bowed in his thrall, collaborating to spread his message, aggrandize his brand, inundate us with his image, his insanities, his stories, his family, his Twitter vomit, his flip-flopping, his word salad, his narcissism, his arrogance, and, mostly, his fear-mongering.” —Lorraine Devon Wilke in the Huffington Post.
“The mainstream media is barely able to issue a mea culpa for their extreme pro-Clinton campaign and total failure of reporting the real state of the union. It is now looking for obfuscations like claiming no one could have gotten it right. That is a cheap excuse for incompetence.
“It is astonishing that THE media outlet that did the most to shine lights on Clinton is ignored in any of the main stream after-election reporting. I am talking of Wikileaks and Julian Assange who did their very best, under high personal risk, to report the truth about Clinton’s and the DNC’s utter corruption. A big thank you to them!” —Moon of Alabama
So who’s right here? Both, I think. While the Rush Limbaughs and Michael Savages and Bill O’Reillys were purposely spewing vitriol, lies, and hate to misinform and spread fear across the nation, the so-called “mainstream media” was also hard at work. The broadcast news each night was an aggrandizement of each new Trumpian assault on women, blacks, Mexicans, Muslins, whomever. At the debates, with him hovering over HRC, any questions that should have been directed at her assaults on Russia, the Palestinians, the Syrians, etc., never materialized. Mainstream media is beholden to its corporate owners, the vast “infotainment” industry dependent upon the Trump “clickbait” to make money for their shareholders and to Wall Street financializaton of everything Clinton.
Now we’re entering a new phase of media complicity: the normalization of a Trump presidency that fulfills its monetary mission with the rationalization they’re being “unbiased” and “objective.” In a fundraising editorial in February of 2015 the editors of La Jicarita laid out an overview of the issues we’d been covering since we went online in 2012. We ended our financial appeal with this statement: “We cover these important issues without the false ‘objectivity’ you’ll find in the mainstream press. Activist journalists do not subvert an ‘objective’ journalism that doesn’t exist. They employ their knowledge and skills to critique and analyze situations in which they engage not only as reporters but as catalysts of change. There is no incongruity in these positions, or conflict of interest; together, they define a citizen.”
Journalists need to be out there in their communities documenting, investigating, analyzing, probing, revealing, speaking the truth. Here in New Mexico there aren’t “two sides to a story” about an administration that poisons groundwater. There is no “on-the-other-hand” way to report stories about a federal agency that spills 24 million gallons of toxic jet fuel in the aquifer and then refuses to take responsibility. It’s not “biased” to condemn Sandia National Laboratory for dumping nuclear wastes into unlined, open pits. And it’s not “unprofessional” to get arrested, as managing editor David Correia did (and have journalists covering Standing Rock), by occupying the mayor’s office to hold him to account for police violence against the homeless and mentally ill.
There are no “two sides” to the election of Donald Trump. There can be no normalizing this potential descent into neo-fascism, but the media is already out there doing just that. Sixty Minutes did it first with an interview with the man himself. As reported in several Alternet articles, writers in People Magazine, The New York Times, and the Washington Post are either telling readers to “calm down” and “grit our teeth” or covering the president-elect as they would any other. NPR invited Joel Pollak, senior editor at large of Breitbart, the voice of the alt-right, to come on the air and defend Steve Bannon, former Breitbart editor who is now Trump’s “senior policy advisor.” Breitbart is the home of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, anti-semites, racists and misogynists giddy over Trump’s election. Just a few days ago, after an NPR interview with Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, was heavily criticized by listeners, the All Things Considered hosts “balanced” these objections with ones from people who claimed “we need to hear this.”
A large part of the exploration of truth must be directed at the liberal left and Democratic Party. Ever since the New Deal the party has been leaning right towards this, our second guilded age, embracing neoliberalism as the path towards 1% rule. That’s why they fought so hard to discredit Bernie in his run for the nomination: he hammered relentlessly on economic inequality that resonated with folks across the country. He was criticized by some on the left for not addressing more directly the issues of race as well as class, but I think he felt his only path towards the nomination was to discredit HRC where she was most vulnerable as a member of the neoliberal elite who has been instrumental in disenfranchising the working class.
But we must also now ask just what exactly we mean by working class and a worker economy. Globalization, financialization, and automation have taken jobs away and they won’t be coming back. The mission of any progressive party must be to help define what a worker economy will be and what policies need to be put into place to support those who move into this new reality: child care support; parental leave; living wage; single payer health care; subsidized housing and rent control; free education. While the great strength of the industrial unions has been sorely diminished, public employee unions can fight to maintain their right to organize.
Mark Greif, one of the founders of the literary magazine n+1, suggests in his provocative book Against Everything, that the state should cut off individual income at a ceiling of $100,000 and help meet every citizen’s basic income with a guaranteed yearly grant of $10,000. The latter idea, referred to as a universal basic income, or UBI, is gaining purchase around the world, but as Greif writes, “Call it ‘political surrealism’—the practice of asking for what is at present impossible, in order to get at last, by indirection or implausible directness, the principles that would underlie the world we’d want rather than the one we have.” This movement acknowledges that in our changing economy many people are not going to be able to find work that provides a decent living wage, and that quality of life includes the time necessary to raise children, pursue education, the arts, entrepreneurship, etc.
The folks in northern New Mexico have managed to retain a land-based culture that allows for a diverse economic system of self-employment, part time jobs, farming and ranching, hunting, and home building. We, too, however, are susceptible to the kind of economic collapse folks in a great swath of rural America are experiencing as their towns wither away due to the exodus and modernization of industry and manufacturing. The oil and gas industry, which the Martinez administration has relentlessly pushed as the state’s main source of revenue, is already in rapid decline. Feeding at the Los Alamos National Laboratory federal trough breeds a precarious dependency (and an interrogation of “trickle down economics”) at the expense of our good health and a clean environment. New Mexico went solidly blue in in the election but now we have an obligation to build a progressive coalition to stave off a demagogue and provide an alternative. In the immortal words of Joe Hill: “Don’t mourn. . . Organize!”
Editor’s Note: There are two Washington D.C. marches planned around the inauguration. The ANSWER Coalition is sponsoring a demonstration along Pennsylvania Avenue on inauguration day, January 20.
The Women’s March on Washington will be held on January 21.