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The Mainstream Media are to Blame for Political Unrest

Summary:
The political unrest in the USA is the result of changes to the regulation of the media that occurred in the late twentieth century.  These allowed media providers to be openly partisan.In 1949 the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced the "Fairness Doctrine" which obliged broadcasters to present fair and balanced coverage of controversial issues of interest to their communities, including by devoting equal airtime to opposing points of view.  In 1987 the FCC ended the Fairness Doctrine and deliberately removed the provisions related to the doctrine until all had gone by 2011. During this period Congress passed the 1996 Telecommunications Act Section 230 which gave Internet companies the power to provide "platforms" where they could censor online content but not be held

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The political unrest in the USA is the result of changes to the regulation of the media that occurred in the late twentieth century.  These allowed media providers to be openly partisan.

In 1949 the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced the "Fairness Doctrine" which obliged broadcasters to present fair and balanced coverage of controversial issues of interest to their communities, including by devoting equal airtime to opposing points of view.  In 1987 the FCC ended the Fairness Doctrine and deliberately removed the provisions related to the doctrine until all had gone by 2011. During this period Congress passed the 1996 Telecommunications Act Section 230 which gave Internet companies the power to provide "platforms" where they could censor online content but not be held responsible for that content. 

The net effect of these changes is that politics in the USA is now divided into the media and their supporters and those opposed to the media.  The Democrats are the media party and the Republicans are the anti-media party.

This is very evident from recent opinion polling:

The Mainstream Media are to Blame for Political Unrest
Source: Gallup Poll Sept 2020 
This is why the USA is presenting the appearance of an authoritarian State with a nearly uniform media line on political issues and with troops on the street (Even Fox News has moved towards the media line over the past year). 

The US media corporations are commercial organisations and their staff are instructed to keep advertisers happy.  They are also "big business" in their own right and inherently represent commercial interests.  The large US corporations now see little benefit from hedging their bets by backing both Republicans and Democrats so are withdrawing funding from the Republicans.  The media is covering the events at the Capitol as an attempted coup, when it was just a demonstration that got out of hand, so that their supporters will approve of the changes.

The proportion of Americans who are concerned about civil war has increased to 61% in September, up from 34% in the Rasmussen Report in June:

The Mainstream Media are to Blame for Political Unrest
Source: Engagious
The media party is pushing the others against the wall.  The anti-media voices are silenced and they feel like punch bags as democracy fades.

The successful strategy of reporting the Capitol riot as a coup is probably emboldening the media party to push their enemies into minor insurrections so that they can clamp down on "domestic terrorism" and ensure their power in the future.

The opponents of the media had one chance to correct these problems.  Unfortunately Trump was not the man for the job, he knew that the media was a threat to democracy but failed to re-introduce the Fairness Doctrine and undo the 1996 Telecommunications Act Section 230 and failed to deal with the lack of a secret ballot in postal voting.

It is disturbing that UK Conservatives are not taking active measures to tame the UK media by ensuring democratic behaviour in the BBC Charter and regulating postal voting so that activists cannot abuse it.

18/1/2021

Postscript: The rise of Corporate power does not just reside in deregulating the media, the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the deregulation of the City were part of the same movement. Basically it is nuts to believe that business can be self regulating.  It needs gentle regulatory control if it is to work for all of us.

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