As we brace for the 2022 midterm elections results, it’s important to keep some perspective. Palmer Report recently tweeted a great point, Right-Wing extremists have been trying to destroy our 250-year-old experiment in Democracy since before the Civil War, in favor of greedy, power-hungry racists. Their coordinated efforts include cheating via gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement, breaking with precedent to take control of the Judicial branch of government and packing the Supreme Court, and misinformation campaigns by dismantling of our public education and taking over a seemingly willing Fourth Estate. Whatever the outcome of the midterms, our next greatest task must be to hold network, cable, and print news media to account.
Contrary to popular belief, Fox News was not banned in the U.K. In 2017, Fox News decided to shut down its U.K. broadcast because of poor ratings. It seemed no one there cared about the rantings of U.S. Right-Wing propagandists. There was also a time when the New York Times and Washington Post were required reading, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” But with the onset of the Internet and then the 2008 recession, print struggled, forcing mainstream media to pivot. In a dark new precedent, they chose profits over plausibility.
As I breathlessly watched the midterm election results, I recalled my shock when the paradigm shift to digital forced the beloved International Herald Tribune to change its name in 2013. The media’s cost-benefit analysts pointed them to the profitable CLICKBAIT business model. It’s unlikely they’ll veer from keeping their audience in a constant state of fear any time soon because it works. A whole new paradigm shift will have to happen.
Today, mainstream media remains unapologetic about their misleading “Red Wave” prediction for the 2022 midterms. If 2016 didn’t shame them into honest reporting, why would 2022? Yet people are still tuning in because CLICKBAIT works. Twitter was also shaking up mainstream media, prompting Elon Musk to disrupt that trend. How can we disrupt the disrupters? There is a lesson in closing of the U.K. Fox News branch. We as consumers must change the channel.
Chicago native Lorraine Evanoff earned her degree in French from DePaul University then became a Certified Financial Manager. She worked as a finance exec in film production for seven years in Paris, then in Silicon Valley during the dot-com era, and later for various Hollywood production companies, notably as CFO of National Lampoon. She is currently living in Los Angeles with her husband.