When President Donald Trump brazenly whines about the Fake News of his media coverage he is unwittingly – as most of Trump’s disclosures are – proclaiming a very uncomfortable truth, i.e. the basis of all the news we receive is fundamentally fake. But that’s not what Trump is saying. He’s not proclaiming that all news in the media is false, only that which gives him a bad coverage.
On the HBO programme Real Time, comedian Bill Maher made the claim that viewers of Fox News (Trump’s favourite channel) when asked about Trump’s ties to Russia said they knew nothing about it, because, concluded Maher, on Fox News they don’t talk about the Russia-gate enquiry; and as such, Fox’s news is fake by omission. On the other hand, Trump and his supporters, argue that the rest of the media use the same tactics of falsity through omission, by never talking about all the great and wonderful things his administration is doing to make America great again.
Both Trump and Bill Maher are right … and wrong. Falsity-through-omission is perpetrated by all the mainstream media outlets at all levels and, practically, all the time, and so they are right. But what neither trump nor Maher see is that the truly grave omissions in reporting are not the one’s spurred by ideological interests, but rather the great omissions concerning the structural organisation of our civilisation that ignore the root causes of all evils. Lack of systemic criticism and the complete absence of systemic culpability is where the Fake News really resides.
We live in a civilisation that preaches the virtues of competitiveness and successfulness. This is the motor of our lives and money is the oil-blood that keeps that machine working. From this point of view, when Trump stood up before the United Nations and told every member of those supposedly united countries that he was going to put America first and that every other leader should put their own country first, it was pure madness (how can we be united if we’re all competing against each other?) but it wasn’t hypocritical. Quite the opposite, Trump was proclaiming pure market-system ideology – compete and succeed, no matter what that the demands of that competitiveness are.
But the ideology that Trump so honestly adheres to, is also insane. Seen in the context of the United Nations and international diplomacy we immediately see the dangers behind it – such a doctrine leads to wars; and in the case at hand, a possible nuclear war.
Trump may or may not be criticised for making his honest claim, but what will never be criticised will be the system itself which Trump is just a loud symptom of.
And there are a lot more serious symptoms, not just Trump. Not only wars but all violence in societies stem from this structural emphasis on competition and success. Yet, when the media report this violence, there is never any attempt to put the blame where it stands, on the competitive market structure of the global economy world itself. Poverty is another result and poverty also intensifies violent conditions. But the media don’t report on that, or debate in their in-depth analyses on how the structure might be changed … and therein lies the great Fake News.
Crime in our civilisation is not an aberration in society, but an honestly determined expression of its values to be successful – no matter what – even if it means breaking the rules.
And, of course, there is our interminable problem of biodegradation that is also deeply embedded in the system itself. This is yet another manifestation of the violence perpetrated by competition and success. Of course, with the issue of climate change there is an awareness that things have to be done, but a great lack in reporting how the system of competition and success is incapable of making the adjustments that need to be made to halt the lethal degradation.
In a psychological sense, the media seems to be in a blind state of denial to the ugly truth. in order to clean the filthy pond we’re swimming in, we have to change the water – which means we have to stop swimming, get the water and filthy scum out of the pool, and find some clean water to swim in again. And that is a lot of hard work. Yes, Donald Trump himself promised to drain that swamp for us, but he is just making it murkier than ever, and, how could we expect a billionaire capitalist ever to clean up the neo-capitalist cess-pool?
The truth is: for humanity to succeed, we must clean out the competition and success and replace it with a new purpose based on the creative potentials of an authentic humanity that is allowed to be creative without carrying the burdens that competitiveness implies. We need a systemic revaluation, a vision of a different future, and … a revolution. That’s the real news.