The news media spend lots of time telling us who we should vote for. Currently they are telling us to vote for H. Clinton. Can we trust the news media to tell us the truth? No. Most of the major news media organizations are owned by big corporations. Large companies have an interest in big government. Why?
- They can afford to “buy” legislators with campaign donations and favorable media. Their bought legislators give them competitive advantages through regulations and tax laws (Tariffs against foreign competition is a biggie.).
- Big corporations have an edge in getting government contracts. When the government spends $6 trillion a year, that’s a significant part of their income.
So the mass media has an economic incentive in being biased towards big government. Since H. Clinton is the big government candidate, most of the news media trashes Donald Trump. Here is another simple example of how they do it. Supposedly Trump is preposterously arrogant. Here was The Hill‘s title on a January 23rd article, “Trump: I could shoot people in streets and not lose support“. What did Trump say?
Lauding his fans’ loyalty at a campaign event in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Saturday, Trump said he could kill people and still be popular.
“I have the most loyal people, did you ever see that? I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters,” he said.
Sounds awful! So CNN added to the mischief in its version of the story, Trump: I could ‘shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters’, by using the story to pit Ted Cruz against Donald Trump. Worked, I am sad to say.
The Daily Caller, on the other hand, at least provided a video in its report, Trump Says That He Could Shoot Somebody And ‘Wouldn’t Lose Any Voters’ [VIDEO], that puts that quote in context. After listening to the quote in context, it is obvious that Trump intended nothing more than a bit of hyperbole.
Want to see the whole speech? The video below provides that. The part of speech where that quote appears begins at 51:00 minutes into the video.
I read an article recently that harkens me back to Judge Richard Posner’s amazing book, “Law, Pragmatism and Democracy”. The fable that the article debunked! and the Posner talked about in his book, is that most people have a reasoned set of ideological policy preferences, and then they choose a candidate and a political party based upon agreement between that individual voter’s personal ideology and the candidate’s/party’s policy platform. Studies show that for the vast majority of us, the choice is far more emotional than rational.
In actuality, voters pick political parties and candidates closer to the way that they choose brands that are marketed commercially such as Coke verses Pepsi, or if you are football fan from Alabama, the Tide verses the Tigers. Once consumers have chosen a brand, they tend to keep brand loyalty and parrot the same merits of their brand that the brand itself advertises, or in other words, they give the same wonderful qualities that Coke or Pepsi advertises as to why their loyal consumers should respectively choose their soft drink over their rival. In this regard, choices by voters of political brands (and every candidate, including Trump and Clinton, market themselves agressively as brands) is very much the same as consumers choose product brands.
Furthermore, although they may pretend that their choices are more rational than the ignorant mob, studies have shown that even so-called “high information voters” actually tend to pick a brand and then adapt their policies to the brand, rather than the other way around. The shoot-the-messenger apologetics here of Trump is a wonderful example of the lengths that even smart and informed voters will go to overcome the cognitive dissonance to the brand that they have choosen. Tom here is positively tying himself up in knots to defend a candidate by attacking his detractors even though Trump is in almost every respect the ideological and moral opposite of Tom. (I’m not claiming some godlike superiority here – this is simple human nature and we all do this same thing, even if we don’t want to admit it).
I’m not bashing this aspect of human nature. First of all, it simply is what it is. Second of all, as Posner says, it is a good thing. Much as we all think that we are awfully smart here, we simply cannot possibly know everything on every issue so as to have an informed opinion – we just don’t have time to build up that kind of expertise on that many subjects. Also, some problems are so complex and the solutions to those problems are so ambiguous that even lifelong experts disagree (thus, the reason why they call economics “the dismal science”). There are too many constantly changing factors and too many unknowns, as Karl Popper argued, for even the most rational and complex schemes to actually be determinative. (In his monumental work, “The Open Society and its Enemies”, Popper argued against the supposed historically inexorable determinism that Marx’s communism and the Fascism of Hegel each promotes, but all the same arguments that Popper presented also refute the many new forms of teleological historicism promoted by both the left and the right these days).
This is the reason that we have a republic, or what Posner calls a form of elite democracy, even though technologically, we could have a true majoritarian democracy in pretty short order. Technologically, we could simply retract all the politicians’ voting privileges and provide every voter access to a computer screen so they could vote on every single bill before Congress (proponents like John Dewey thought that as the electorate became better educated and more informed, a more majoritarian or pure democracy like this would actually happen). The predictable unintended consequences of this would be that, because if every voter actually became informed enough and took the time to vote on every issue our economy would collapse because no one would have time to create and consume the products, only a few people would actually vote and they would be swayed by the same brand loyalties and elites that we have now, so we’d be back to a more disfunctional version of what we already have.
According to Posner, therefore, the function of voters is not to actually be perfectly informed on and decide all complex issues, but instead it is to keep each of the two major brands from going too far. By way of analogy, a core minority of Coke lovers will keep chosing Coke (and giving the same excuses and pufferies that the Coke company provides) no matter how much information were to come out on how unhealthy Coke is or how much more healthy Pepsi’s supporters say it is. In this analogy, for the brand loyal Coke customer, even the cognitive dissonance of loyal consumers finding one rat head after another in Coke cans could be dismissed by referring to Coke’s product promotional materials and by shooting the messengers of such information as just biased Pepsi lovers.
According to Posner, great pragmatic thing about our democracy is that there are a great mass of voters in this country who just are not that loyal and who don’t buy all the propaganda from either political brand. In other words, although these voters may drink Coke at the moment, if they hear about too many rat heads in Coke cans, they will switch to Pepsi on a dime. Although the pendulum may swing from one side to the other, eventually the vast group of, often uninformed, voters in the middle will punish the extremes, and after some soul searching, the punished party often swings to the other side, sometimes causing a complete flip (the flip betwen the parties on civil rights is a great example of this).
Every day Trump throws another rat head in the cans of the Republican brand. I don’t think anyone will ever change Tom’s mind that this is what is really happening. Tom will just keep on minimizing it the cognitive dissonance and questioning the source. I’m as susceptible to this kind of brand loyalty as Tom is. Everyone here is. No matter how well informed that we think we are (in fact thinking that we are informed on everything when we obviously can’t be just makes it worse), we have to rely on brands in our republic. Luckily, those middle voters are becoming increasingly horrified by Trump, and the Trump horror show is drowning out any “slice of death” marketing efforts that the Republicans can concoct against Clinton. Republicans have falsely cried “wolf” too many times and too loudly about Clinton for it to work anymore.
The voters in the middle are doing what Posner said that is actually their role in this elite democracy, which I find very reassuring after worrying for a while in this election whether Posner’s theory was wrong. After it’s all over, the only question will be how to repair the damage that Trump’s extremism has inflicted to one of the brands that we need to balance out our democracy.
Tony – what a great, substantive, thought provoking comment. Thanks for taking the time to put that together and share it on this site.
I’m a strong admirer of Judge Posner, one of our great conservative jurists. But his writings on subjects that are not strictly law issues are also well worth reading. For many years, he and Professor Gary Becker of the University of Chicago had a blog called (surprise) the “Becker Posner Blog.” They would take one topic, one or the other of them (Becker was a conservative economist) would take the lead, the other would provide a subsidiary initial comment, and then open the floor to outside comment. They dealt with a wide range of issues. Professor Becker has died, but I think the blog may still exist as an archive. If so, I can highly recommend it to readers serious about issues and about how to go about thinking about an issue. Watching Becker and Posner debate and discuss provided very good role models for the rest of us, although few of us would ever have their knowledge about such a wide range of subjects.
Thanks Scout. I’ve been a fan of Posner’s since law school when his “Economic Analysis of of Law” was the textbook for a class that I took by that title. I still go back to that book when examining the economic impact of a given type of law. As with anyone whose political and philosophical beliefs are more complex than the jingoism that can be fit on bumper stickers, Posner is hard pin down with all the usual labels, but there is no doubt that he is a brilliant thinker.
@ Tom re your 2048 comment: as frequently happens, you misread my comment. I fully agree with you that Trump’s shooting on Fifth Avenue was, and was intended to be hyperbolic, not literal. I think I said that clearly. We agree on that. My further point, however, was that I don’t think anyone, including the news media, took it to be literal. I was trying to calm you down on that one, since you appear to think that there was widespread misunderstanding of Mr. Trump’s remark. I don’t think there was. He meant that he had very loyal followers who are not swayed by negative information about him personally. That seems indisputable, however depressing it may be for those who care about the quality of democratic governance in America.
But Prudence would dictate that you should not make such violent, hyperbolic statements to begin with. The context is largely irrelevant when it comes to the prudence of saying something so click-baity and stupid. In other words, the context doesn’t minimize the imprudence of the words and that is the issue.
The media has to make money like any other capital venture. Donald gave them a gold mine.
If Trump had said something as click-baity and stupid as you suggest, the news media would not have bothered to take it out of context. Nevertheless, you may have a point, just the wrong solution.
Frankly, I tend to avoid hyperbole. Because it involves exaggeration to make a point, it requires more skill than I have to keep the exaggeration from supplanting the point I want to make. So I strive for simple, clear statements and pat myself on the back when I get close to making my point.
Trump’s problem is more complicated than a lack of skill, which I think he has in abundance. Trump usually speaks before an attentive audience, but much of the electorate is inattentive. Therefore, the news media can and have taken Trump’s more dramatic statements out of context and made them the story.
So does prudence suggest Trump should stop speaking in the manner to which he is accustomed? For the most part I think not. Even some the most innocent statements can sound absurd out of context. Instead, I think Trump should call out the news media’s attempts to deceive, and he has.
Unlike Trump, instead of fighting for the right to speak, most Republicans would rather make safe and boring speeches. Most Republicans would rather let the news media have its way. It is what the PC police call growing in office (=> http://www.jargondatabase.com/Category/Political/Conservative-Jargon/Grown-In-Office).
The solution is not to guard your speech? Well, David clearly had no idea what he was talking about then. Psalm 141:3
Even in context, it is imprudent to make statements like that and especially when you are running for office. Proverbs 8:12-13 show what the wise man would say. Trump, according to Proverbs, is not a wise man. There are things you joke about and killing people are not it.
Furthermore, the fact that he thinks joking about murdering people to demonstrate the loyalty of his followers is a good thing stinks of a cult. That sort of loyalty isn’t admirable; its disturbing and creepy. So even IN context, it is STILL absurd and reeks of a Jonestown-esque situation, at least in Trump’s blustering, hyperbolic mind.
I suspect everyone in the world understood that this particular remark by Mr. Trump was hyperbolic – that if he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and gunned down people he would, in fact, not only lose voters, but also would be prosecuted for terrorism (if he had a political motive), murder, and a whole lot of other serious stuff. You needn’t fear that anyone took this literally.
The problem with the comment and the reason it merited reporting was that it was a stupid thing to say, exemplary of the kind of useless braggadocio that afflicts much of Trump’s public utterance. What kind of person would say such a thing in a public situation? That’s what makes it newsworthy.
The fact remains the news media pulled the remark out of context. It is also not difficult to demonstrate the bias of the news media.
And your bias? Well, you try to hide it, but it is what it is. Does not much matter. Our bias will not influence a great many votes.
The news media is far beyond bias.
It is the communication mouthpiece of the State.
It will work to destroy anyone who challenges the leftist establishment that has been rising to power for the last 100 years or so.
The next time an atheist bleats out a complaint about the separation of church and state, ask him if he might also bleat as passionately about the separation of Press and state.
We are in transition from a soft to a hard tyranny. When they want to do so, the members of news media can still resist and report news the powerful don’t want to hear. They will have to work harder to find a job and take a pay cut, but the option is still there. When the tyranny hardens, no such option will remain.
The Press is peopled by Democrat Party operatives who pose as journalists.
There has been no real news for decades.
Actually, Tom, I don’t think it was reported out of context and I don’t think anyone reported it as DJT actually contending that he would or should shoot people on Fifth Avenue. It was reported because it was an odd thing to say, not because anyone took it to be literally a true statement of his intentions. I wouldn’t argue with you if you were to posit that various news media outlets frequently go beyond mere statements of fact and reveal an underlying opinion, either of the person reporting or the management of the media firm. I see this all the time in many different ways at all ends and in the middle of the political spectrum. This has become quite the problem in the past decade with the proliferation of cable news channels and the necessity of them filling up the clock with chatter. But I also think informed citizens can kind of filter through that if they make an effort and still walk away with useful information. My point here, in this thread, is that the Trump comment about shooting people on Fifth Avenue is not particularly a good example of the problem. He said it, it’s content isn’t particularly altered by context, and no one reported it as a literal intention – everyone with a brain (and probably most people without) knew it was a figure of speech.
By the way, I’m not sure why you think you and I share a bias (“our bias”). Not every opinion is biased, and some biases are based on fact (I’m biased against swimming near large jellyfish). But I am sure that “our bias” at least between you and me, is not a real thing.
PS: I still don’t know who this “Novademocrat” feller is that you keep responding to. His comments don’t show up on my screen. However, I’ve noticed a coincidence that whatever he’s saying, based on your responses, must be something that I’m in agreement with. Odd, because as a conservative R, there’s usually not that much that I am in synch with from Democrats. I assume this guy must be a very conservative Democrat (they do exist, but they are becoming rare). We should try to lure him over, although I admit this isn’t the best of cycles to get reasonable people over the Republican Party, at least not if one goes by the top of the ticket. Maybe after November. There will be a lot of empty space in the rubble.
When taken out of context, most people understanding of Trump’s remark was quite a bit different than Trump intended. How different? There are some things I try to let my readers figure out for themselves. I don’t think anybody except you is in danger of thinking Trump might start shooting people.
Was Trump’s hyperbole appropriate? I think I will my readers judge that for themselves. I just want people to actually take the time to listen to Trump.
When we go to the polls to vote, we should each be voting based upon our own biases, not a newsreporter’s bias. However, if we depend upon the news media to tell us what Trump says instead of listening to him, we will be casting our votes as dictated by the news media.
Not to pile on, put one of THE Donald’s attributes that is so attractive is that he is completely unsullied by political correctness.
In fact, his comment is an example of how a master communicator, communicates.
He knows his comment will make politically correct people go bananas, and he knows that the rest of us will see magnificent things.
I can’t enumerate those magnificent things for everyone since the master communicator allows them to be created in the mind of the listener.
In my own mind I saw the brutal, genocidal reality of the Islamic Jihad and at the same time the awesome, unstoppable People power that is behind THE Donald’s candidacy.
The power of those people that have him behind in nearly every key battle ground state?
What we see in our own minds may be true or false.
That is why communication is such a powerful medium.
And? How does that change the external reality that Clinton only needs North Carolina or Ohio–two toss up states that, according to RCP, are polling more for Clinton–to win the election?
The polls you so fervently accept and have 100% unquestioned faith in, are also a form of communication.
Apparently, the magnificent image of victory was formed in your own mind.
For others who are THE Donald supporters, these polls are meant to dispirit them and depress voter turn out.
Wait for the last week before election day for the polls to get accurate. and thus communicate truth rather than image.
“The polls you so fervently accept and have 100% unquestioned faith in, are also a form of communication.” Assumption with no basis in fact.
I’ll wait, but the race is all but over.
Time will tell.
It strikes me, SOM, that Mr. Trump is extremely PC in his statements. His PC is just pitched to a different crowd than is his opponent’s (no surprise there). Trump says a lot of things that have no factual content or basis whatsoever, but his particular audience just loves being titillated by his message, so he keeps pouring it on. If I were a cynical fellow (and I am far too jolly an old bugger to be cynical), I think I could go to a Trump rally and to a Clinton Rally and say exactly what would make each rally think I was a really swell guy. I could be completely PC at both. That’s how shallow our political discourse has become. At Trump’s rally, I’d just spin some counterfactual yarns about how bad the economy is, how many jobs trade liberalization has killed, how many people are being murdered, how badly the elections are being rigged, how many Muslims are planning to kill you, how many immigrants are surging across the borders, how much lower I could make everyone’s taxes while increasing spending and collapsing the economy through decreasing world trade volumes At Clinton’s rally, I’d talk grandly about government programs for this or that group that we’d pay for by taking money from everyone, how health care issues were resolved by Obamacare, how our candidate did a great job in managing the US/Russia relationship.
I think you are on to something, however, in that Mr. Trump’s style does appear to lend itself to creating messages in the minds of his auditors that are, like your experience, quite different than the words he utters. He can talk about grabbing women’s genitals, and his adherents hear “magnificent things” (I realize you were being sarcastic, but it’s a good phrase and bears repeating). I also think you are touching on something important when you make the link between the brutality of groups like ISIS to the dynamics of Trump’s appeal. In both cases, they prey on ignorance and insecurities to offer the illusion of a better world, however brutal and cruel that world may be for their enemies. As I have said before about this Presidential election, ironies abound.