Clickbait hyperbole, America’s number one export.
Vox, one of the host of slowly degrading clickbait-era news sites whose journalists value revenue-per-visitor, and stance taking, over objective journalism recently published an article worth dissecting, titled,
The biggest threat to democracy isn’t coming from China. It’s coming from within [America].
Its thesis is the suggestion that the American right is more dangerous to global democracy than the totalitarian regime now sitting as the top state on the UN Human Rights Council re-setting global norms in their image. While it is crucial to call out anti-democratic behavior when it takes place, everywhere including America and its allies, creating a false equivalence between the approximately half of the United States who vote “right” and the Communist Party of China is frankly gutter journalism.
Firstly, the words “left” and “right” are vacuous and misleading labels that more refer to the culture constructed by cable news and twitter over the last 20 years than any reference to real political debates over substantive issues. Still, these labels unfortunately must be used here for the sake of clarity to describe the misbehavior of modern news.
The efforts, mainly by the Republican party to curtail early and mail-in voting, and make it harder to register and in-person vote are abhorrent. So are the Democratic party’s anti-democratic primary processes, and their concerted effort to destroy ranked-choice voting so that they can preserve party elites’ grip on party and calcify the corrupt two-party system. This, by the way, includes veto action by Gavin Newsom in the interests of elites and against ranked-choice, a provision overwhelmingly supported by California, which by itself justify him being recalled.
Vox, whose news is been mostly anything but news, with such hard-hitting opinion pieces as “Olympics TikTok is one of the best parts of the Games,” and others coming out strong in favor of democratic free choice and open science like, “Mandate the vaccine, not masks,” makes money off spreading hate between the so-called “left” and “right.”
The latter idea has sparked mass unrest in France as a similar proposal to force vaccinations on those who wish to visit public venues there has led to clashes between police and protestors, who include not only those on the “right” but “leftist” yellow-vests and health care professionals.
VICE, whose Suroosh Alvi, no longer a real journalist but himself a powerful elite with a net worth $450 million USD, recently made a spectacle of himself by producing what was ostensibly an exploration of post-war Iran and Iraq. It instead turned into a truly sad pro-Shia propaganda piece peppered with one-sided misinformation, and free Western publicity for the Iranian Ayatollah’s regime, as well as his militia controlled puppet state in Iraq. It allowed everyone interviewed to freely ramble on about why the US actions were neocolonial when they invaded Iraq, but Iran was just a freedom liberator when they did the same. It claimed that it the Iranian militias were the ones who actually defeated ISIS while the US did nothing, and that Iranian warlord presence was necessary to protect the innocent Shia ethno-regime in Baghdad from the Sunni (terrorists), who happen to form the majority of the country. This all without any critical questioning whatsoever, and is emblematic of much of the “content” coming out of VICE, which is more entertainment than news, anti-US establishment but pro-foreign establishment.
The Guardian hasn’t changed since Glenn Greenwald left.
These formerly “non-mainstream” news sources have just sold themselves to different mainstreams and sets of elites, whether the Biden administration, the Supreme Iranian Guardian Council, or the incarnation of the pure unadulterated hatred, Jack Dorsey.
It is not necessarily destructive to have partisan news sources. It is when there is no neutral middle ground for the apolitical majority who can’t then find and parse objective fact-based news without some tinted lenses that this becomes problematic. America is as polarized as it has ever been, and in reality, most of this cultural political polarization is not about substantive political issues, nor about deeply held beliefs. It is about uneducated stance taking, social posturing, and revenue maximizing for the news, old media, and now the new social media and its accomplices who profit off of this hate.
It is true that there are other places in the world, other than China, that are facing democratic declines, and that includes United States of America, in both political parties. This is being increasingly led by the sycophantic clickbait being pumped out to wedge that divide deeper so that the zealots can hate each other so much that it distracts them from the lack of policy solutions from their elected representatives on both sides of the aisle. While these ultra-capitalists oligopolists continue to put profit over country, identity over policy, and emotions over concrete facts, America’s cultural decline below China will mean that average people stand to lose far more than their 401k holdings, the divide may lead to a national fission that would be to the disadvantage of American of both sides of this “spectrum.”
Media ought to look a little bit more like they are covering the news and less like a histrionic facebook feed, should call out corruption and deviance, regardless of who perpetrates it, and must act responsibly if they want to truly maintain their role as a trusted source of information in the ensuing years.
Staff writer: Ari B