The spoilt brat complex.
It’s an experience we’ve all had; meeting a child who can only be described as a spoilt brat. Every kid has an off day when they’re just being angry and unreasonable and most parents cope with that situation in their stride until the kid returns to normal, whatever that might be for the particular child.
The real thing already has a deeply ingrained set of bad behaviour patterns which are totally self-centred, usually anti-social and inevitably lead to various conflicts unless the entire world bends over backwards to oblige them. They always want their own way and when they don’t get it, a predictable and instant temper tantrum is the invariable result.
There’s always a ready selection of parental excuses to hand; strong-willed, under the weather, over-tired, bad hair day, you name it, but everyone knows the real reason. The parents find it easier to give way to the child rather than saying no and meaning it. It makes for a quieter life I suppose, but they’re not doing the child or themselves any favours in the long run.
This behaviour pattern invariably comes to a screeching halt when they start junior school.
It’s a totally different environment from home, and the most important people in it – the other kids – don’t care a fig if you threaten to get really upset, roll about on the floor chewing the carpet, scream and shout, cry your head off, or even hold your breath until you turn blue. They’re not your Mommie or your Daddie, so you can’t emotionally blackmail them because they don’t have to love you, never mind having any passing attachment to you.
From now on, friendships have to be earned.
The brat of course will start off using the usual behaviour patterns which were so successful to date, but because this results in the other kids simply ignoring them completely, their behaviour modifies fairly quickly as they learn the world doesn’t revolve about their every wish or desire. This is totally normal behaviour and a part of how we all learn to fit into a larger society than our immediate family.
Sometimes, and it’s quite rare, the spoilt child simply cannot transition into school society and it becomes the start point of a more serious life-long problem, whose origins are more psychological rather than just emerging out of a phase of misguided parenting. It’s a pathology that leads to loners, social isolation, depression and deeper malaises.
The pattern just described is the current behavioural template for the mainstream media. It essentially acts like a spoiled child who’s been indulged for far too long, but the first day of school is coming at them in January with the inauguration of President Trump.
The equivalent actors in the scenario would be left-wing politicians behaving like a doting parent who won’t allow the child to be disciplined because they love its affection, right-wing politicians who’re afraid to say no to the little monster, with the other kids being the consumers of the mainstream media’s product.
So, why is Trump such a change in the status quo?
For starters, he knew it wouldn’t matter whether he courted the media’s favour or not, they were chronically left-wing pro-Clinton and could be relied on to deliver an unrelenting stream of negative coverage of his campaign, which they duly did. Given he was up against an opponent who couldn’t be beaten by playing the game on their terms, he totally changed the nature of it.
In essence, he circumvented them completely, because he recognised he was in an artificial market situation. He had a message to communicate to the American electorate, but it was supposed to go through a middle man called the mainstream media, whom he knew would almost certainly distort, suppress or just plain lie about what the message was.
He went full on internet; every speech was streamed directly in real-time and placed on YouTube immediately afterwards. He used social media, commenting in person 140 characters at a time via Twitter on whatever issue needed handling.
Obama is styled as the first internet president but it’s not true. He merely used it as yet another information channel together with the traditional ones for his campaigns, because unlike Trump he’d always had the mainstream media firmly on his side and in his pocket.
Trump, the shape of elections to come, ran all his big message communication using the net and with the possible exception of some TV advertising, effectively ignored the legacy media altogether. That’s why his presidential campaign cost over a billion dollars less than the one run by Clinton and the Democrats, and he got more bang per buck out of it as well.
By refusing to play their game and leaving them to impart their desired brand of spin to whatever they imagined he’d said or hadn’t, he left them scratching around for an influential role in both the primaries and the election itself, though I don’t think they quite realised it while it was happening. Some of them still don’t.
They had a great old time alternately sneering at or lambasting that awful clown Trump, his crass retard supporters, and his brain-dead policies, but what they didn’t take on board was that while they thought they were preaching to the whole electorate, they were actually only communicating with the already converted and each other. Everyone else had actually given up on their reporting and decamped to the internet where their vote was up for grabs.
That’s why when Trump actually won, you could see how genuinely surprised and shocked they were. Gobsmacked is probably a more accurate description. Their whole world crumpled in on them, because they’d never realised that their supposedly all-inclusive world was actually a subset of it and neatly encapsulated inside a media bubble well removed from reality.
Reality was happening outside that bubble, bypassing it completely. Trump’s message flowed around them along internet fibre-optic cable with the stripped down kernel message brutally rammed through it at 140 characters a time.
CNN might be able to attract a few hundred thousand people looking for the evening’s news headlines, the NY Times on a very good day might equal that access, Facebook might play some games with what was trending, Google news could get cute about what headlines it decides to show, everything could be spun every which way and was, but through it all Trump could instantly communicate with over 16 million followers with one tweet and without fear of interference from any middle man. And it only took one second to read on your phone.
Not only were they being sidelined, but significant reputational damage was being done, and nearly all of it was self-inflicted. Like most people with some knowledge of politics, I know the mainstream media around the world is nowadays predominantly leftward leaning, but even then expected some attempt at balance. There was little or nothing of that, and too many of the articles were nothing more than thinly disguised hit pieces; more like PR for Clinton rather than even a token attempt at honest journalism.
As a consumer of media, too much of the content was so transparently propaganda, it was an affront to your intelligence.
Since his main delivery channel was the internet, the only way of getting a feeling for Trump and the detail of what he was saying was to follow his twitter feed and watch his speeches on YouTube, ignoring for the most part the press commentary he was getting in the mainstream media because it was hopelessly partisan.
It quickly became apparent that on too many occasions, what he actually said and what he was reported to have said or how it was spun were two very different things, and it’s not hard to see why the term lying press came into usage by his supporters, who like myself had given up on the legacy media and were obliged instead to follow what he was saying directly.
Just as Trump had cut out the middle man, the consumer of the mainstream media gradually did the same.
Within living memory, there was a time when the media was far too inclined to the right-wing, and it was just as unhealthy a situation then as we presently have now. It didn’t move with the changing times of roughly the nineteen-sixties onward, and slowly went into decline, to be replaced with fewer but more centre or left of centre newspapers which more closely matched the emerging zeitgeist.
To a large extent, the mainstream media is now being presented with the same problem; move with the changing sentiment of the times or face extinction, and that challenge is complicated even more by the totally new delivery channel of the internet, which they haven’t really adapted to very well. Competing against the internet involves a little bit more than shovelling the same paper content into HTML pages.
With the experience of the election behind them, are there any signs that the spoilt child is modifying their behaviour? Frankly, the answer seems to be no. If anything, their behaviour appears to be even more petulant than ever. A few examples to illustrate this.
Shortly after the election, Trump took his extended family out for a steak dinner in a New York restaurant, no doubt as a private thank you for their support and patience over what must have been a gruelling year for them all, but without informing the press pack camped outside his door. The headlines next day came down to how dare he do something like that without informing them? The carpet really got a good chewing because of him not somehow getting prior clearance from them.
He invites thirty of the leading media bosses in for an off the record meeting to do some plain speaking to each other. It was one of those let’s clear the air initiatives. Next day, the content of the meeting has been leaked and is being published together with the same old negative spin. So much for off the record and a fresh start then.
Trump accepts a congratulatory phone call from the president of Taiwan, Mrs Tsai, and the media throw a tizzy about the proper diplomatic etiquette being ignored. China should have been called first and then somewhere down the line a call from Taiwan might possibly be accepted.
While the media has a perfect right to comment, it is not there to somehow police Trump’s foreign policy changes, because accepting that call and leaking the fact that it had been accepted is a foreign policy change, which no doubt China took note of.
If the media hadn’t been so busy doing the hatchet job on him and had spent some time actually listening to what he’s been saying all along with regard to China, it shouldn’t be coming as any surprise. Trump’s tweeted response to the faux outrage was typically him – “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”
Incidentally, the White House press corps is in for some lean years, because Twitter will remain his favourite journo-free communications channel direct to the American public.
All but two of fifty-two major American newspapers endorsed Clinton, got behind her campaign and pushed hard, and yet Trump still won. Every organ of the mainstream media, despite failing to stop Trump in what must have been the biggest one-sided concerted assault on any candidate in the history of presidential races, did not succeed in getting what was obviously their preferred candidate elected to the White House.
The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from that is they are no longer the king makers of yesteryear, but they still appear to believe that is the case.
I have a feeling the unreconstructed spoilt child is going to be treating us to four years of bitter, sniping, mean-spirited reporting which will bounce off Trump, and shunt them further into a metropolitan elite ghetto where out of date attitudes go to die.
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