The great communication guru Marshall McLuhan once said in the days of media prime that “The medium is the Message” That TV in itself was changing the very way people received news and overall information that was absorbing and influencing. That by implication that electronic deliverers of information would be king. We now see the limits of that with declining numbers for much of mainstream media.
We also see it in polls where mainstream media is looked down upon by the majority of the population. An interesting phenomenon of this was the third Republicsn Party debate hosted by the business news channel CNBC.
In it, the moderators asked mostly negative and sensational questions to the candidates. First question was what were candidates weaknesses. Maybe they were hoping to pull in viewers who without quick stimuli of hearing something embarrassing or sensational were feared as turning to another channel or video game.
In a way though accusing Trump of being a comic strip character and a reality show specialist without political gravitas, they became what they negatively characterized Trump as possibly being. Trying to make news a big sensation show superficial of real substance.
Think about this. The Hollywood movie “Network” showed both the power of network broadcasting but the ease at which media could be corrupted to do anything to juice their ratings. While Trump declared his own show a reality show and one of entertainment called “The Apprentice” where he fires contestants, the CNBC debate was supposed to be about serious questions to ensure folks at home better understood both strengths and weaknesses of a candidate of potential to become U.S. president.
And Mr.Trump is now doing a much better job, no a good job acting like he wants to be taken serious as compared to the debate moderators.
But the medium is the message and TV showing Jeb Bush getting trounced by young upcoming Mario does more for it in ratings than Jeb Bush being given enough time to expound on important but possibly dry policy impacting many more Americans.
Hence enter Tec Cruz, no nonsense who could not give a crap about the establishment so attached to media as they own it or next to it. The most devastating blow was not Mario on Bush but Cruz on moderators Quick and Harwood. They and their producers, one of whom I have met were quashed royally. One view is there were a lot of nervous people from the debate production and organization headed home. They should be.
But they will look at their ratings and how many advertiser dollars they pulled in. But what they do not know is that they did not so much put a nail in the Bush campaign as much as in any campaign by the media to show that media with the powerful tool of electronics are on the long term mend.
The media has no message may now be increasingly the modern day modification of McLuhan’s statement in his day that their nature would control the news that would absorb and influence the populace.
And Trump is a poignant reminder of it that more and more see the media having no more important message than ratings, advertising and sensational put downs to keep viewers from continuing to switch devices and channels.It strategically is not working and turning people off.