The American people don't believe politicians. They don't believe business leaders, or Hollywood celebrities, or athletes or other supposed role models. And they certainly don't believe the news media. We have a dangerous dearth of credibility in the United States these days, and when no one has the confidence of a majority of Americans, there is fertile ground for con artists and demagogues.
Sarah Palin understands this. Every time she refers to the "lamestream media" -- which is virtually every time she speaks publicly -- she is engaged in the only tactic that gives her credibility with any audience: she lowers the bar for her ideas (or more accurately, for her rhetoric). Rush Limbaugh understands it as well. If you destroy the credibility of those people or institutions that could undermine your own, you create an opportunity for your voice, however irresponsible or misleading it may be, to gain traction.
And not incidentally, in today's American society, even a small plurality audience can be a ticket to fame and fortune.
The "lamestream media" strategy would be laughable if it weren't so effective. Just what media are Sarah Palin and others talking about? Is she talking about NBC, ABC and CBS, but not FOX? All are owned by large corporations whose interests are not aligned with Palin's political opponents. Is she talking about the New York Times and the Washington Post, or even the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by her FOX News boss? Of course it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that people who are attracted to Palin and Limbaugh understand that any media disagreeing with them are lame.
When your voice contradicts reality and truth, the only way to create space for it is to discredit reality and truth. Palin, Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others have made an art form of convincing far too many Americans to suspend their disbelief, and they have severely damaged the ability of our country to have serious discussions about serious challenges.
And now, arguably the most serious challenge facing our country is figuring out how to have those discussions.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Yarmuth goes after Sarah Palin
It's nice to see Congressman John Yarmuth going after Sarah Palin. Similarly, I'm glad to see that he is voting against the extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. It's funny that all these Republicans are complaining about deficit spending but when it comes tp tax cuts for the wealthy, they seem to forget about their stance on deficit spending. But anyway, here is an excerpt of his post: