Updated: Jun 21, 2020
An Introduction (and Recap)
Welcome back! Long time no see.
I’m glad you’ve made it to the second half of our two-part saga on the modern American news industry (phew, that’s a mouthful).
If you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s post, here’s a quick, three-bullet summary below:
The main focus of Part 1 was a little process through which our modern news industry and our political system rely on each other for power and money. Yes, it’s very corrupt. I call it the Political-Entertainment Loop.
More specifically we focused on the political side of this loop. Our political system didn’t start out corrupt. No, the corruption started about 90 years ago with an advertising agency called Campaigns, Inc. who injected the art of advertising into politics, which eventually turned our political system into its own corrupt advertising agency.
This corrupt approach that Campaigns, Inc created eventually led to a more divided and partisan American public. And it dragged both of our major political parties down with it.
So that’s it – you’re all caught up.
Today we’ll be looking at the entertainment side of the Political-Entertainment Loop.
And the entertainment side of the Political-Entertainment Loop began with the production of the television.
Television, the Great Communicator
In the 1940s television entered the American household and it spread like wildfire across the nation.
Seriously, just look at this shit.
In 1948, less than 3% of Americans had a television. A decade later nearly 90% of Americans had a television. That’s ASTOUNDING.
America was more connected than it had ever been before.
Sure, the radio certainly had an impact on the American people in its own way, but television was on an ENTIRELY different level.
Television offered the ultimate opportunity for companies to pour thoughts into people’s heads. Remember when your parents told you that tv makes you dumb? Well…the jury is still out on that. But heres what television does do: it makes you more susceptible to influence.
People have the tv on ALL day. Just letting the information pour into their heads.
And the issue with television is there is no interaction. You can’t talk to the people on the tv. You can only listen. And in the 1950s there were only, like, three channels. Three channels with ALL the power.
But it took some time for the corruption to really develop.
The Fairness Doctrine
One of the reasons television didn’t immediately become a brainwashing tool was because of a little thing called the Fairness Doctrine.
The Fairness Doctrine was a doctrine established by the FCC that required all media to present both sides of an issue. And if they didn’t follow this rule, they got an old kick in the behind.
The Fairness Doctrine didn't last forever, though. It was eventually repealed in 1987...to the surprise of no-one.
And they’d been advocating for its repeal because they saw the enormous power television had in influencing the American people.
Advertising is Everywhere
You see, television was already doing a great job in influencing the American people.
Television made the Beatles famous on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Television made cowboys cool again through shows like the Lone Ranger and Gunsmoke.
Advertisers quickly realized the power television had over the American people.
Remember those four political tactics we talked about yesterday? Here, I'll remind you:
1) Keep It Simple
2) Repeat Your Catch-Phrase Again and Again
3) Make It Personal (and Emotional)
4) Always Give a Face to the Enemy
Well, these four tactics weren't just political tactics. They were advertising tactics. And they were used EVERYWHERE.
These tactics captured people's attentions. It brought people back for more. It kept people engaged. It made people emotionally attached.
Sitcoms used these tactics. Sports games used these tactics. Talk-shows used these tactics.
And yes, even balanced news channels used these tactics.
It's unavoidable, really. Advertising techniques are used in everything we do! When we tell stories. When we make a speech in front of an audience. When we type passive aggressive comments on Facebook. Hell, you're reading an advertising technique RIGHT NOW.
So yes, even balanced news channels used these tactics.
However, before 1987, the Fairness Doctrine prevented the complete surrender of our news industry to advertising and bias.
And that's why the Fairness Doctrine got repealed. Because certain politicians saw the potential of a de-regulated news industry in shaping people's views.
Really, it was only a matter of time before the news industry and the political world united.
It was also a great way to make money.
It's Not Biased If It's Fact
I try to stay nonpartisan where I can. But sometimes facts are facts.
And here’s a fact for you: the Republican Party was the first party to adopt these corrupt practices.
Sorry, bro. Facts are facts.
For any major political issue - healthcare, abortion, gun-control, religion - you'll find that the Republican Party were the first ones to adopt these advertising tactics for their political campaigns.
Side note: The evolution of the Republican Party from the 1950s to today deserves its own post. It's suuuuuper interesting and I just don't have time to get into it here.
And since the Republican Party were the first ones to adopt these advertising tactics for their political campaigns, it's not surprising that they were also the first ones to unite the political world and the entertainment world.
Fox News and the Cable TVs
The story of Fox News really is the perfect metaphor for the whole shit-storm that is the Political-Entertainment Loop.
And before you tell me that this is biased and that both sides are corrupt, just listen to the story.
Okay, here’s the story.
This is Roger Ailes.