"It's the fault of that doggone television!" We've heard curmudgeons make that claim for generations. But for once, I think it might actually be right. The more I look at how deep the divide is getting in our country, at how partisan it is becoming, at how irrational people get when the subject of politics comes up, the more I think there really must be an intellect behind it all, deliberately fanning the flames.
Here's why: The old saying goes, "Follow the money." In recent days, with politics, people don't really seem to be doing that. With all the political fights going on, and all the hoopla surrounding the upcoming presidential election, everybody is well aware that trillions of dollars are being spent. In the Wisconsin recall elections, virtually nobody is going to change their minds, yet billions are going into ads. One critic called that money, "thrown into a deep dark hole." But is it really? Where is all that money going?
Not down a hole, that's for sure. Almost without exception, it's going into advertising. And who sells the advertising? Why, the television networks, of course!
They're cleaning up! Again! All that money is going into the bank accounts of the TV people.
Think about it. Whatever channel you happen to be watching, chances are it is probably owned by one of only a handful of companies. Comcast, News Corp., Clear Channel, and Time Warner. One way or another, the money flows primarily to those four giant mega-monsters. There are some, like CBS, Gannet Co., or Viacom, who are fairly well-established, but they are dwarfed buy the Big Four. Comcast and Time Warner are ramping it up on the left, while Clear Channel (a.k.a. Bain Capital/Thomas Lee) and News Corp are ramping it up on the right. The one controls CNN and MSNBC, the other controls Fox News and conservative talk radio.
And I dare to say that these four companies are in league with each other to make our political divide as wide as possible in order to soak up as much ad money as they possibly can!
I was in the middle of some mundane activity before last weekend when I finally made the connection regarding this, and the thought just plain stopped me dead in my tracks. Of course! It makes perfect sense! Why didn't I think of it before!?
Hell, why didn't we all realize it before!?
Check this out...
Classical Marketing 101:
1. Create a need. People have to feel that they really need the thing you're selling. America is under attack by (pick one) a.) a bunch of hybrid-driving, latte-drinking atheists who want to kick God out of our nation, legalize abortion, make your sons and daughters marry gay people, allow Mexicans to overrun us and wreck the economy with bleeding-heart tax-and-spend programs to sustain poor trash! b.) a bunch of pickup-truck-driving, gun-toting, Bible-thumping hicks who want to take away all your contraception, force women back into the kitchen, and wreck the economy with excessive tax breaks for the ultra-rich and huge military budgets meant to do nothing more than kick the crap out of non-whites worldwide.
2. Provide a product to fill that need. Here's the solution to all our problems: Our beloved candidate! (Applause!)
3. Ramp up the product value. Our candidate will save us! But if our opponent wins, we'll have no jobs and life will suck forever!
4. Create a sense of urgency. You have to donate! You have to be active! You have to vote! This may be the most important election in our lifetimes!
True, every electoral campaign has used these four steps since the invention of Democracy, but the difference today is that it's the news media which is saying these things now. Cable networks, local networks, all have people on staff, paid full-time, doing nothing else than selling one side or the other on the political fight.
This is why the MSNBC vs. FOX News fight exists. This is why Clear Channel stands opposed to Jon Stewart and the Podcasts of Air America. The bigger the fight, the more money they make!
All this time we thought that we were victims of the big-money spenders, like the Koch brothers or the teachers' unions. WRONG! We aren't the victims, THEY are! They have been DUPED into shoveling endless wheelbarrows of money directly into the already massive vaults of the television networks! They have duped US into contributing to the problem with our take-to-the-streets protests and our puny, $50 donations. And they only want more, and more, and more...
Shit! Maybe the "fairness doctrine" wasn't such a bad idea, after all.
In the words of Bill Maher, New Rule: 50% of all campaign donations must go to either paying down national debt or paying for national healthcare! Enough is enough!