Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mass Media Culture and the Selling of the Presidency

A lot of people woke up on November 5 wondering how it could have happened that a person with no experience governing, could become the president of the United States.

It was all about the mass media proving they could sell anything they wanted to, if one had enough money to pay for it. This year, there was somebody out there who had unlimited deep pockets who could pretty much single-handedly buy the mass media -- although the mass media will claim, it was not them who was used successfully, but the new media of grassroots internet fundraising. It was the worst of both.

Until this year, it was widely thought that although one could successfully market cigarettes, alcohol, cars, and credit using mass media, it was unthinkable that one could sell the presidency in that way -- but nobody ever had the massive amounts of money that could buy the media in the one-sided manner it was.

Although some will insist that they have clear firewalls between editorial content, news (information) and advertising, the fact is, money corrupts absolutely just in being a sponsor of certain programming. And this year, mass media knew it had to prove its viability and relevance in an age of shrinking advertising revenues and subscriptions. They had to prove they were still relevant, and still had the power to sell anything one could pay for.

Usually people draw the line pretty clearly about what they will do -- and what they won’t do, no matter how much money they are paid, but the new benchmark of desperation and ambition, is that one will do anything -- and there is no line to cross anymore. One either wants the money or not.

In the old days, they would write plays, stories and movies about such dilemmas. Now there are no such barriers, and everything can be justified by whether it sells, and what sells, is what one will pay the marketers to sell. In politics, a few still believe they serve a higher cause -- although those who concoct such campaigns, know they are just words meant to manipulate and deceive.

There has been this creeping ruthlessness and unscrupulousness willing to destroy whatever stands in their way of maximizing their wealth, power and fame.

And truly worthwhile, decent individuals of integrity, had no chance against this mass manipulation and deception.