The 2018 mid-term elections was the largest campaign of its kind in history, both in terms of votes cast and campaign money spent, which was in the billions of dollars. Perhaps it is time to reflect on why this happened. We now live in a 24/7 news cycle. Whereas back in the 1960’s we would read morning newspapers, watch evening news, and skim through weekly news magazines (e.g., Time, Newsweek, Life, etc.), news is now offered on a non-stop basis, not just on one television channel, but several, as well as the Internet. Forget reality TV and sports, news is now the #1 entertainment medium and there are millions of news junkies around to prove it.
What we are now faced with is the diabolical manipulation of the American psyche, much more persuasive than anything invented by Joseph Goebbels during World War II. Let me be brutally frank, the news media is not concerned with reporting reliable news and accurate information, it’s about making money, and this includes all of the news sources. They have sacrificed “fair and balanced” for the political agenda they believe will cause the most angst among the American public. This includes the major television networks, cable, the Internet, and printed press. Their influence is so pervasive, it explains why the country is polarized and people suffer from such things as Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).
To illustrate, during the election, the news media was quick to quote the latest poll du jour. All of these polls were just as inaccurate as they were in 2016 when they confidently predicted Mrs. Clinton would win the presidential election. Instead of examining early voting data as provided by the various state board of elections, they preferred to quote some cockamamie poll instead. Please understand, the early voting data is far more accurate and insightful than any poll, yet the news media refuses to quote them as it doesn’t create as much drama as a skewed poll does.
This overt attempt to whip the public into a frenzy is shared by the news media, the polls, and fact checkers. They are all on the take, which is why they encourage upheaval, cast doubt on politicians, and lack professional courtesy. Their job, as they see it, is to make the news, not report on it.
The question thereby becomes, what can be done about it? The answer is actually simple. Since the source of energy for the media is money, we should minimize the amount they can earn. For example, our electoral cycles have fallen into the rut of creating campaigns lasting as long as two years. This includes campaigns for federal, state, county, and municipal politicians. I just witnessed a campaign here in Florida where I saw state and county politicians, who earn approximately $30,000 a year, spend ten times that amount to be elected, some much more than that. From a business perspective, this represents a lousy return on investment. Again, the only group profiting from this is not the politicians, but the news media who reaps the reward.
As an aside, in 2018, politicians spent in excess of $2 billion for campaigning, a new record. This money was not used for charitable purposes, or to update our infrastructure, or to cure cancer. It was used to line the pockets of the media and create multimillionaire celebrity news personalities.
The end of the 2018 election marks the official beginning of the 2020 campaign, and the vicious circle starts all over again. The pumping of huge sums of money into the coffers of the news media only encourages them to persist in irresponsible news reporting. But what if the gravy train was interrupted; what then?
To curb spending and obnoxious campaigning, we should do as other countries do and reduce our electoral cycle to a defined period, such as 90 or 120 days. For example, there are several countries who have less than a 90 day election period, such as Argentina, Canada, France, and Japan. Further, some countries do not allow the purchase of TV ads, such as Brazil, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Such policies dramatically inhibit the media money machines and cause them to take the histrionics out of their broadcasts.
The symbiotic relationship between the Media and Politics is so imbued in our culture, getting the two parties to agree to my proposal is out of the question. To implement such a program requires changes in our electoral process which must be driven by the citizenry, not politicians. This cannot happen unless the country becomes aware of the problem and expresses outrage over it, but since the media controls communications it is doubtful voters will ever learn of it. In fact, watch this column be torpedoed and sunk.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]
For Tim’s columns, see: timbryce.com
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Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.