The Great Donald Trump Media Crybaby Survey

On this rainy Saturday morning as I was having breakfast, I was browsing through PZ Myers’ Pharyngula blog when I came across  an amusing development. President of the USA, Crooked Lyin’ Donald Trump has a survey on his eponymous website (warning: Donald trump’s website). Here, users are invited to share their opinions of the media coverage of Trump and his administrative fuckups. Trump’s team is clearly hoping that his loyal band of easily misled supporters will fill out the form to support Trump’s persecution complex. Myers suggests that all decent-minded left-liberal folk should fill it out:

let one factor decide how you answer: will it make Donald Trump unhappy, and go against the result the poll is engineered to generate?

With that in mind, I gave it a go. Yes, I live in New Zealand, but that will only make more of a mockery of the survey which is the whole point. Here’s how I answered:

trump-survey-response

Here’s a link to the 10538 Overture track.

I was most angered by Question 22, which forgets the disgraceful obstruction of the confirmation of President Obama’s SC nominee Garland. The media was so lukewarm in their criticism that the Republicans got away with it. When the Democrats try something similar over racist Jeff Sessions the Republicans get outraged, even though they themselves are responsible for this standard of behaviour existing in the first place!

Question 25 is ominous, where we are asked if the Administration should waste more of its resources  holding the media “accountable”. Their motives are clear, the US Republican Party now has a fascist ideology. Suppressing contrary voices is now part of their plan to hold onto power.

If enough Trump opponents fill out this form, he won’t get the result he wants. Then he can’t use it to justify whatever abhorrent actions he was wanting to do. All of the Trumpist talk of “will of the people” is hollow, electing Trump was never the will of the people and never will be. Here’s another chance to remind him of that.

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7 thoughts on “The Great Donald Trump Media Crybaby Survey

  1. You’re touching an interesting dilemma here: how shall we respond to Trumpism, post-fascism and right-wing populism? We’ve mostly seen different kinds of activism that, just like Myers suggests, should “make Donald Trump unhappy”, be it different forms of boycott, sabotage or even heaps of great satire (like “Netherlands second” etc). I’m meanwhile becoming fairly concerned that this strategy completely backfires. After all, Trump managed to become President of the US, the Brits have decided to leave the EU and France is on the verge of falling to the extreme right as well.

    All of these reactionary groups are extremely successful at permanently victimising themselves. Assuming that Trump’s hilarious poll is mostly answered by progressively minded people, it won’t take long until he tweets about the ultraliberal elite that hacked the poll to misrepresent the voice of the people blah blah… For his supporters, this is just another confirmation that the evil establishment does everything they can to suppress differing opinions. Similarly, left-wing satire is received as one-sided ridicule. Overall, I think that this path is entrenching some kind of cold-war like alienation in the middle of our societies. And of course that is additionally reinforced by the fact that we’re all living in our filtered bubbles and that we’ve stopped communicating with each other.

    I have to admit that I don’t have any concrete action plan ready, but I believe that if we want to halt the spread of fascism 2.0, we’re going to have to re-think our strategy and somehow manage to break up these barriers. The metaphor might be a bit tasteless under the current situation, but the rightist blaze has simply flamed up to an extent at which it is too late to be contained by contempt, taboo and boycott.

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    • That’s a very interesting series of points that you raise. With that in mind, it is as if we lose no matter what we do. If we leave the poll for Trumpian fanatics to fill out, the administration gets the result they want and start clamping down on certain groups and organisations. If we “sabotage” the poll, the administration claims it was rigged and go about clamping down on their opponents anyway.

      It’s interesting that there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as right-wing satire. A quick google search brings up an Atlantic article (https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/02/why-theres-no-conservative-jon-stewart/385480/) which postulates that right-wing comics are overtly political and reliant on crude stereotypes that resonate only with their most ardent supporters. Satire in general tends to criticise the powerful in defense of the vulnerable. Satire that instead seeks to defend powerful institutions comes across as awkward and corrupted. Trump supporters now feel powerful following “their” “victory”. They may see satire as an attack on themselves, not just Trump.

      In terms of a solution, I think Trump supporters would need to feel that Trump is no longer part of them and no longer has their interests at heart. Ultimately, it will be him and his government that make this apparent. For example, imagine being enamoured by a friendly car salesperson when you make a purchase versus feeling blind rage when they wash their hands of responsibility when the car is faulty a few months later.

      I think the left needs to consistently present a vision where citizens (including Trump supporters) can feel that they have a place to participate in a new economy, rather than trying to prolong failing industries (e.g. coal mining). Bring the discussion back to policy instead of personalities and Trumpist claims of persecution become even more baseless. Even then, winning over Trump voters isn’t as critical as re-energising the left voters who wouldn’t support neoliberals.

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      • Exactly, with this poll I’d say that no matter what we do, it’s always wrong in some sense. That’s why I referred to it as a dilemma. A similar dilemma: if we were North Koreans, should we participate in elections or stay at home?

        I think you’re raising a valid point that Trump’s followers should be convinced that Trump’s policies are (at least for a majority of them) actually against their own interest. They’re also irresponsible and unethical, but for Trump supporters, these wouldn’t be very strong arguments. To make sure that this is not just destructive criticism, we’d then have to promote the vision of an alternative economy.

        Ok, but the challenge still remains that meanwhile there’s no more factual debate between supporters of the two big parties. One group lives in the Guardian-MSNBC-NYT bubble, and the other group co-exists in the parallel Fox-Breitbart-@realDonaldTrump universe. Where is the platform that is not considered fake news by either group? How could sensible, rational arguments diffuse into the Trump universe? I really have no clue 😦

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  2. I’m probably not a good posterchild for getting out of one’s media bubble, I’m of the opinion that life’s too short to read right-wing dreck. Of course for every cat like myself, there are cats who hold the opposite approach. I don’t think a compromise approach to media will work since what each side deems as true depends on how favourably it covers their worldview (although the right are worse at this than the left). A media platform that treats both sides as equally correct would fall under the category of genuinely fake news.

    It may be worth exploring how we came to adopt our current views and what factors brought about radical changes in opinions. No one is born left or right, it is something that we become by influence from other people/organisations and as a response to the circumstances that occur in our lives. When we understand how we reached our own viewpoints, we might then understand what it could take to make the change with other people.

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    • OMG, I’d never ever read any of this ultra conservative or worse stuff either!!! That everyone has their preferred media is not new at all. In fact, it’s always been like that and that’s never been a real issue that would have divided societies.

      What’s new is that for very many people, ‘journalist’ has become synonymous for ‘liar’. With the modern media, it’s now become possible to live a life without journalism. On Twitter, for instance, there are no press conferences where journalists could ask critical questions @realDonaldTrump; instead, there’s only his propaganda unfiltered, unverified, unreflected. Or with Breitbart, as another example, the fake story of refugees who allegedly burnt down the dome of Cologne, Germany, would have never made into any serious journalistic medium. And even if it had been published somehow, they would have rectified it afterwards. Breitbart hasn’t.

      So regarding the point with the media: publications of different political colour, with different opinions, different interpretations of current affairs are clearly desirable or actually necessary in a democracy. But fairy tales masked as news are a massive problem once a very large share of the general public takes those more seriously than fact-based news and opinions.

      I didn’t make this very clear in the last post: I really don’t think there’s a problem with right-wing media or left-wing media. The actual problem is the parallel fake-news universe.

      Regarding your thoughts about shaping viewpoints: we’d have to find out how people who believe everything they read in their cozy bubble on Facebook could become more critical thinkers. Maybe it’s the fault of the infamous US education system? 😉

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      • In part yes, education that promotes critical thinking is important. Focusing on fake news, the rise of such outlets may in part be attributed to money (e.g. Macedonian teenagers making money off ad revenue). I’m of the opinion that the media model is fundamentally corrupted by advertising. Media organisations are implicitly under pressure to cover their advertisers favourably or run stories that seek to maximise ad revenue by saying whatever gets the most views. Decouple the media from advertising and fake news providers will have one less reason to create fake news.

        Paying an unconditional income to everyone with a journalism degree from an appropriate educational institution would give journalists the freedom to investigate issues of interest to society without being compromised by outside interests.

        The other and arguably more important cause of the rise of fake news is influence. Who needs ad dollars when one can control a large segment of the population instead? Fake news outlets may exhibit similarities to mainstream outlets in order to appear credible (e.g. look like the CNN website and have a similar URL). Very few people would still take the ramblings of a guy on a wordpress blog seriously since his blog doesn’t look reputable.

        Perhaps copyright laws could be adjusted to allow for fake news outlets to be closed down on the basis of copyright infringement if they try to mimic trusted established sources? In theory, new reputable news media outlets with their own unique image would be able to form and develop.

        You also touch on social media. I was shocked by surveys that suggest a large proportion of the population get their news from Facebook. Having algorithms that adjust feed content based on interests without any consideration of truthfulness was a disaster waiting to happen. Again removing ad revenue streams from social media providers and restrictions on data collection/use of collected data would limit their profit motive and their ability to allow users to reinforce their existing opinions.

        Much of this is largely academic since I have no first-hand experience with fake news/propaganda websites. Plus, now that the horse has already bolted, where’s the point in closing the gate?

        TL;DR version: We should have restricted internet advertising and user data collection before Trump happened!

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  3. These are some very good ideas, indeed!

    An unconditional income for journalists only would probably cause some fairness issues (What about other people with media qualifications? Artists? Nurses?), but I reckon the public broadcasting concept would come pretty close to that idea?

    Another model of financing independent journalism would be cooperative funding. The blog waitbutwhy.com would probably count as such an example or on a larger scale the German newspaper ‘Die Tageszeitung’ (taz) and the Swiss newspaper ‘Die Wochenzeitung’ (WOZ). I wouldn’t be aware of any major English language media that would have adopted that system. Again, all these news outlets cater to an already enlightened audience. Others simply don’t understand ‘cooperative’ as a seal of trust.

    And like you mention there’s also lots of money around that would pay for propaganda. All too often, such propaganda aka advertorials even appear on otherwise pretty serious media with no or almost invisible labelling as an ad. That’s when I’d lose trust in, say, the Guardian.

    Finally, as social bots are becoming increasingly human, the entire situation is probably just going to get a lot worse. Considering that incredible number of people for whom Facebook is the single source of news, a single private corporation already possesses the power of shaping the opinions of billions of people!

    It may be worth considering a general media levy as a remedy against propaganda from rich lobby groups. Publicly financed (social) media? Billions of dollars invested into Diaspora / Friendica?

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