After international media consumers were informed about the presidential election in the U.S. to an extent as if they were citizens of the superpower themselves, or even eligible to vote themselves, there has been a strange thinning out in the weeks that have followed as far as news from across the pond is concerned, in striking opposition to the historic developments between Los Angeles and Boston.
Like something out of a Hollywood script
This fact may be based on the fact that the coverage of the elections seemed to come from the script of a Hollywood movie, on both sides, where the “good guy” competes against the “bad guy,” the “good guy” wins, and nothing stands in the way of the “happy ending,” in this case Joe Biden’s entry into the White House.
So what is there to research and inform in depth, now that the “good old days” have returned, transatlantic harmony has returned and the West, led by Washington, may once again dutifully follow the orders from the White House to defend the – free – world together against the villains in Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Caracas. So far, so corny!
The author of these lines has no intention whatsoever to praise Trump over Biden, or vice versa, but rather assumes the fact that the U.S. political system is in deep crisis, like most political systems in the Western world.
Or, to put it in the words of Noam Chomsky,
“The U.S. is actually a one-party state with two political factions, Republicans and Democrats. But: Strictly speaking, that is no longer true. We are still a one-party state, the party of business. But there’s only one caucus left, of which it doesn’t really matter what we call it.”
But back to the media coverage. Right now, political processes are taking place in the U.S. that are barely reflected, if at all, by the international media.
Historic lawsuits in the U.S.: 19 states sue, not the “Trump camp”
For the first time in the history of the United States, 19 states are simultaneously suing the U.S. Supreme Court to have the election results in the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin annulled.
Since this process has only a very limited connection with the person of the still incumbent U.S. president, i.e. it cannot be dismissed as yet another of Trump’s personal quirks or bad habits, it hardly attracts any media attention.
Big money and the media
What are the causes of this development? In recent years, the media world has developed to an unprecedented extent worldwide. On the one hand, this was and is a consequence of technological progress; on the other hand, it was based on the realization that information yields large profits on the market when it is disseminated.
The discovery that information can be a lucrative business led to an influx of big business into the media in the Western world. Journalists and editors have been and are increasingly being replaced by businessmen in the top positions of media corporations.
This development is flanked by a concentration of media power, behind which, of course, political tendencies are becoming established that undermine the media’s original claim to provide information, in conjunction with truth-seeking and the raising of political awareness. Today, a different agenda is on the agenda of most Western media.
Since the discovery that information is a profitable commodity, it is no longer measured by the original criteria of truth and lies, but is increasingly subordinated to the laws of the market, the pursuit of higher profits, the goal of establishing a monopoly. This has led to a deplorable provincialization of globalization in the media world, especially in foreign reporting.
In his book “The Image,” published in 1962, writer Daniel J. Boorstin posited:
“We no longer experience and see the world directly, but through a distorting, false, deceptive and deforming reflection in newspapers, on television, in advertisements. The natural world has moved away, has disappeared, its place has been taken by the imagined world, which we can change at will, according to our interests and desires.”
These lines sound more relevant today, in the Internet age, than when they were written more than half a century ago. But nothing is lost yet, because the media revolution is still underway. This new, fresh phenomenon in the cultural history of the world is still too young to be able to develop effective measures against undesirable developments such as manipulation. That’s what we have to work on – together – for the freedom to create shades of gray, not just black and white images.