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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Dumb as a rock

Donald Trump recently managed to seem even less presidential than usual by describing MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski as "dumb as a rock Mika".

“Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses,” Trump wrote. “Too bad!”

Whatever the story behind this, we are not accustomed to a relentless stream of crude jibes from a US president. Even those still inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt must wonder why they stick with it. 

And yet...

And yet great swathes of modern media output are as dumb as a rock even if the media folk behind them are not. If influential people keep quiet about it or if they try to be even-handed – what then? That’s the problem with Trump’s approach. We may dislike seeing it from a president but it is common enough in blogging and social media. If Trump is waging a war against what he sees as fake news, then how is he supposed to wage it? In such a way that nothing is done and voters barely notice?

For example, BBC coverage of green issues is as dumb as a rock and has been for years. So why not say so? Imagine an impossible situation.

Theresa May – “As for last night’s BBC programme on sustainable energy, they are not bad people but their low rated show was dominated by a green agenda. Too bad!”

Jeremy Corbyn – "I agree with the Prime Minister. The show was dumb as a rock activism – not what we want from the BBC at all."

A ludicrous scenario of course, but Trump’s crudeness has raised an interesting question. It may be that our expectation of public politeness from senior political figures has steered us into a situation we never would have entered if we had the choice - a situation where the miserable standard of mainstream reporting is never tackled. 

Our political class would rather manipulate it than tackle it but is that what we want? We do not need even more laws and regulations about what can be said either, but that is what we're getting. What we need is more robustness in public discourse, more freedom to say what is becoming ever more difficult to say.

I still don’t like how Donald Trump operates, but behind the dislike is a certain wistful sense that we have drifted too far the other way and Trump is merely pointing it out.

5 comments:

Michael said...

Jeremy Corbyn - "The Labour Party never buries its bad news, their media wing, the BBC, just never reports it".

I think I'd rather see his stuff on a blog, as for one, I don't ever use Twatter, and two, I keep out of Bookface, for the same reason as trying to get out of LinkedIn is like trying to eliminate the common cold!

wiggiatlarge said...

I think Trump regardless of what one thinks of him, has done us a service, the reaction of the media in the States shows only to well it is a private club that has been jabbed with a stick, we could do with some of that here.
The BBC reaction to the Trump comment shortly after inauguration has been to relentlessly point out all of what they see as a threat to the status quo here, very little if anything positive about what he may or may not be achieving.
I, and I would guess many others no longer listen to the Toady program as since Brexit the bias has been overwhelming yet they deny it despite a survey showing just that, they need more than a sharp stick.

Roger said...

So, are there any hidden depths to Trump's Tweets. No, Trump is entirely one orange skin cell deep, that's it.

But he is a creature of mass media and that does seem a disease of our times. What is a bright young person to do, become a doctor or a surgeon or an engineer. No, get a job on the D Mail, process excrement for 12 months then jump on to politics or advertising. Creating and processing memes seems to be the modern way to success, the only game in town is shuffling useless bits and bytes around (like these).

James Higham said...

I like the one: "Thick as pig ......."

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - I never use Twitter, but it seems to suit political point scoring which I imagine is why Trump uses it.

Wiggia - I agree, very much like a private club that has been jabbed with a stick. Long may it continue.

Roger - I think it is too early to say how Trump is doing, too much clamour and sniping. He won the election and seems to know how he did it - not many can claim that.

James - I like "as thick as pig shit", but it is best used with moderation.