There’s 24 days until this goddamn election is over. What a year. For a political junkie like me, it’s been very confusing. This is like my Superbowl. I’m horrible at predicting winners, but I’ve been carefully watching the games since 1988. This election was different. It wasn’t odd that there were mean things said by politicians about other politicians. That’s normal. It wasn’t odd that there were kooks with horrible signs. That’s normal. What set this election apart has been the complete breakdown of the media filters. No, seriously.
Think about Cronkite or Lehrer letting a Trump primary rally run uncut for an hour as Breaking News. No. Goddamn. Way. It would have been a 30 second summary that disparaged the obviously unqualified New York media personality. Think about them asking back a paid political operative who continually said false things. Think about them PAYING them to sit next to them, and repeat those lies in response to every question. Never.
Trump will certainly lose. Underneath the brand, sat an entitled fool, and a bully. That turned out to be the good news. We can’t count on that again. What happens next time when a more disciplined candidate doesn’t trip on their own jack boot laces? When the candidate is Bannon, who values the victory above the recognition? When the candidate is a Democrat that targets 1 group, instead of 8? We can’t give anyone that kind of access again to the public zeitgeist. Too many people are too easily swayed.
We need to put the gatekeepers back. I know we can’t go back to the nightly news. The closest we can probably manage is the Daily Show. (Oh, how you wronged us, Jon Stewart, reclaiming your time at home with your family.) I don’t have all the answers, but this feels important. We need to empower smart people to sift through the silt for the important nuggets, and act to divert the bullshit from polluting the stream.
We need to stop thinking we can go toe to toe against professional manipulators every day, without losing our focus on the things that matter. It’s not weakness, it’s simply a matter of bandwidth. We’re too busy to counter years of research and planning with just a discerning eye, and scattered attention to a 24 hour news stream. To hijack a phrase, we need to Turn off 24 hours, Tune in 1 hour, and Screen out the spinners.