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A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The GOP Is a Propaganda Party: Media parasites have taken control of the host.

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A clownfish with a Cymothoa exigua parasite functioning as its tongue. (Christian Gloor / Flickr [CC BY 2.0:])

Amanda Carpenter makes some insightful observations in The Bulwark:

Cymothoa exigua is a terrifying creature.

The parasite enters a fish through its gills, attaches to its tongue, consumes the tongue, and then becomes a sort of new tongue. For the rest of the fish’s life, it swims around with the “tongue-eating louse,” as the isopod is known, operating its mouth.

At first, seeing a photo of it made me recoil. Then, I realized it seemed oddly familiar: It reminds me of the relationship between what’s loosely defined as “conservative media” and the GOP.

For a long time, most influential right-leaning media figures were content to swim alongside the GOP, flowing along in the same general direction. Until Donald Trump came along. Then they saw an opportunity to burrow deep inside the GOP and wield real power.

It worked. So well that the GOP, as an institution, no longer controls its tongue and its craven media parasites are the only thing keeping it alive.

Ask yourself, “Who are the actual leaders of the GOP?” Who truly influences Republican voters?

It’s not whoever the Republican National Committee will nominate as its next chairman. It’s not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, for God’s sake. It’s the Fox News primetime lineup, the large galaxy of radio and digital outlets clamoring to place their personalities and stories on Fox News, and their vast array of fringy lower-tier knockoffs.

All day, every day, these talkers, writers, producers, and editors set the party agenda. They act as the Republican party’s “war room.” They give favored politicians airtime to solicit donations from their viewers. They go negative on their political enemies. Their stars even headline campaign events to rev up the base and get out the vote.

The ones who are good at it get paid far more by the likes of the Murdoch and the Mercer families to carry out the political agenda than any mere senator or congressman. These talkers, not the elected officials stuck grubbing around shaking hands and campaigning in the streets, are the party’s real leaders.

Donald Trump is almost an afterthought in this context. After all, where is Trump without the glow of the TV camera and his Twitter handle? Nowhere. Long before he announced his candidacy in 2015, Fox primed the GOP base for a candidate like him; the network gave him more airtime than other candidates, including a longstanding call-in segment on Fox & Friends; no one blinked an eye when Fox head Roger Ailes, who had a quarter-century friendship with Trump, began advising the Trump campaign soon after Ailes’s ouster from the network. And beyond and before Fox, the media—news, talk, and entertainment—always have been and always will be Trump’s source of political strength. That will only become more true after he leaves office. He will continue to seek out ratings, somewhere, as sustenance for relevance and survival.

The only question is what channel and whether he appears on the network, owns it, or licenses his name.

Knowing this dynamic within the GOP, it’s no wonder that (to name just one ambitious pol) Sen. Ted Cruz has adopted the posture of an online Twitter troll instead of the constitutional scholar-turned-statesman of the most Republican of the big states. One doesn’t amass a rabid grassroots following by passing bipartisan legislation, delivering on constituent services, or even acting to protect the homeland during a pandemic. The demands of leading and governing in the public interest have never meshed well with the demands of winning and keeping office, but they have never before been so contradictory.

Propaganda Party rules dictate that “owning the libz” and generating likes, retweets, and reactions online are the key to success. In the absence of any policy platform, a new party operating philosophy has emerged among politicians and media figures alike: present Trump-friendly figures in the best light possible and depict anyone who stands in their way as some variation of a socialist, child-eating, Satan worshipper.

Plenty of deep-pocketed investors are down for it; they’re looking to fund more media that will do exactly this. In a piece published last nightNew York Times media reporter Ben Smith found a healthy appetite among media investors eager to “convert Mr. Trump’s political profile into cash”:

“There are a lot of well-capitalized people circling,” said Michael Clemente, a former executive at ABC News and Fox News and former chief executive of Newsmax, who has been part of conversations as a potential leader of a new venture. . . . The noisiest effort is led by  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2020 at 10:48 am

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