What caused it .. and is it here to stay?
My dear Mr. Cowgill,
You have written another excellent piece.
First, as someone who was born and raised in Winsted, I can say that the Winsted Post Office was placed where it was to unite the contentious communities of East Winsted and West Winsted.
But on to your major point.
I believe that the problem which you have so eloquently described in your piece can be traced to the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. Can you imagine Walter Cronkite delivering the news the way it is delivered on , say, Fox?
Which brings us to the second complication of today: Confidence in the Media. When Cronkite and his fellow anchors read the news back in the three network days, we felt we could believe them. Do you remember when LBJ said, upon hearing Walter Cronkite speaking critically of the war in Vietnam: "If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost the American people." Contrast that with Rupert Murdock saying: "It's not about Red or Blue. It's about Green."
Terry, another great piece.
You are writing about a puzzle I’ve tried to solve, which is why so many people are in thrall of Trump and the “anti-elite” perspective, and I’ve had no more luck than others in doing so. The most interesting approach is to listen to those who fall within this sphere, and what I hear is two-fold.
The first, which your piece recounts, is the disparate sources of information that provide many of our fellow citizens with their information, and when I take the time to listen to or read these sources (Fox, for example, or The New York Post) I’m astonished by the slant of and—all too often—simply erroneous reporting. Now, don’t get me wrong—I think journalism as a whole is in terrible straits, where even The Grey Lady has many a sin for which to atone, but there remains some greater degree of interest for facts among the mainstream media. One of the good things about the world of the Internet is that with enough time, ability, and luck, original or prime sources can be found and thus facts checked.
The terrible indictment of journalism and its weird sister, social media, is that these are in the sharp grasp of rank commercialism, not reporting. This itself is not a new story, because commercialization has typically triumphed over culture and unbalance the hope of the Founders. But these days, were dealing with hyper-commercialism, where the unwavering priority of information and social media platforms is eyeballs turned to put another nickel in the pocket.
The second interesting thing to learn from listening to MAGA folk and related ilk is their sense of hurt and betrayal by the American System, where the economic shift of money from working and middle class has been underway, subtly, perhaps, but consistently for four decades. People feel like something is off and are happy to have others point out who is responsible, and the irony is that this pointing is largely an inaccurate and self-serving rhetorical convenience (as in the gold old Us vs. Them posturing). But why should people trust the “mainstream media” when that media has failed to point out the specific mechanisms of the greatest wealth redistribution upward this country has likely ever experienced? It is clear that something is going on, but few are being clear about what exactly is going on and this allows all kinds of alternative facts—left, right, and center—make their play. Reporting without telling the larger story—perspective or context, I believe is what old journalists call this—is crazy-making, and this odd insistence on the part of journalism these days that reporting news is only about reporting on what is new is depressing what civil discourse requires.
Sometimes the really important news is the news that something is still happening.