One of the worst alleged journalism programs happens to be The Morning Joe. It is like a clique of high school kids who think they are popular trash talking everyone around them. There is no news, just backbiting. I can watch it for my own personal amusement, but the spiritual mettle of the hosts is collectively ugly, but very insightful if you want to know how journalists try to make you think what they want you to believe.
Yes, they are control freaks, and manipulative little sots, but their code is not hard to break.
This little exchange is a great example. The usual target is Donald Trump (yawn, in a world of like, 7.4 billion people, there has to be someone else newsworthy, really paranoid and fixated press), and these non-psychologists are faking in diagnosing someone who actually bested them.
But speculate they did, using trigger words like “chilling” and “scary”, because they had to tell their flock directly, since it was not self-evident on the screen.
In my book Don’t Believe It!, I spent a good while in describing how journalists construct news stories, and one of the prime ways is by designating contrived “roles.”
If they like you, the press will deem you a hero.
If you are a rich person they like, the press will cast you as a winner.
If the press pities you, you get to be a victim.
If they hate you, you are the villain.
And if they have no respect for you and think you cannot do any damage to them, they cast you as the freak.
These are loaded roles, and reporters will go out of their way to ensure their assessment of you is not questioned by news consumers.
If you are deemed a hero or a winner, any unflattering dark deeds of your past are ignored. Bernie Ebbers, Kenneth Lay, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Matt Lauer, and Bill Cosby all got the kid glove treatment over the years. The audience had to cheer these Great Men on, and when someone presented evidence contrary to their narrative, the press attacked the spoiler.
Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and Bill Clinton were spared as the press threw temper tantrums that their all-knowing designations were proved faulty.
As I have noted elsewhere, do not think for one second that the press didn’t know what was happening. They hang around these people. They get gossip from the nannies and interns. They even socialize in the same circles.
And once upon a time, Donald Trump got this drooling coverage.
Once a newsmaker is decreed a Hero or Winner, the press will fight tooth and nail to entrench that narrative because to reveal it as a lie means that (a) journalists were lazy and ignorant, (b) they were complicit, and/or (c) were just propagandists and stenographers for a PR firm. Take your pick.
And even when their hero theories are thrown right out of the window, the press will often give the cad another chance if he says he is sorry, giving him the crown of Comeback Winner or Redemption Hero.
Victims also get this kind of shielding, but not to the degree as do heroes and winners. What is particularly noteworthy of the #MeToo news peg is that these women are portrayed as victims. Not heroes. Time magazine did not call these women Tyrant Topplers or Truth Exposers, but Silence Breakers. It is a passive motion. They were abused and kept silent until it was made safe to reveal your victimhood.
We are not hearing stories of women who sued, fought back, or did anything active to confront the abusers, for instance.
Kesha, for instance, sued and lost. Bill Cosby and Gian Ghomeshi were both found not guilty in a court…yet their stories are not part of the narrative.
Because women who challenged and fought back do not fit the press’s definition of victim.
But victim roles, while more desirable than a villain or freak, are far less desirable than being a Hero or Winner.
And women rarely get to wear a coveted Winner or Hero crown, even in 2017.
If the victim is exposed to be a liar, the press will not be as reluctant to pounce on the person and turn them into villains in their stories.
It ensures a longer play, and the faux victim will not get a chance for a comeback or redemption.
The press exploits victims to showcase their own compassion and so-called moral compass, but should they been played for fools, out come the knives.
It draws out the newsmaker’s cycle a little longer, giving it a soap opera appeal.
Then come the villains. They are there to be defeated by the all-mighty press. Villains are not allowed to have a single redeeming quality. It is pure seething propaganda. These are tyrants out to take over the world, and are stupid and evil geniuses.
The press likes to install fear in their audiences when it comes to villains, and over-the-top narratives are usually in play because the take home message is that society would be enslaved unless they were liberated by the press, because obviously, the sheep are just too stupid to stand up to the wolves without journalistic meddling.
The press has slotted Trump into this slot, but he is still around. This stubborn president’s serving out his term mocks them as it makes them feel like losers who lost some sort of a bar bet.
And then comes the freak.
When the press cannot make heads or tails of you because you are truly an eccentric enigma to them, they will cast you as a freak if (a) they think you can never achieve power, or (b) if their villain-casting of you is backfiring, and in order to save face, they pretend you are just a crazy loon.
And Morning Joe is losing steam in their bitterness, and so, they are throwing everything at the man whose very victory proves the press’s true worth, and if a villain label isn’t working, maybe they can spit on him with a freak role.
But people are not roles. They are far more complex than the simplistic roles journalists have used in order to control their narratives.
All roles must be challenged and questioned. As my first proved time and again, the journalistic labelling of people has failed so often, that it is an unreliable way of understanding people, issues, events, and the world around us.
It is the reason why Patriarchal story structures utterly fail in journalism: it does not account for complexity or relativity. We may be a hero in one group’s eyes, but a villain to another. Angels are demons to the wicked, after all.
Had journalism be a truthful discipline, Matriarchal story structures would be the ones of choice to better reflect the complexity of the world and to remind us not to make snap judgements based on no evidence.
Besides, it’s not what you call me that counts; it is what I answer to that decides reality, and defines the truth.