Which is Which?
Complaints about the news media* are common these days (henceforth known as the media, as commonly called). To be precise, the complaints are often geared towards the MSM — mainstream media.
Apparently, the term “mainstream media” refers to left-leaning news organizations, usually CNN and MSNBC. But does that really mean that those news organizations are mainstream? Especially given the ratings FOX News gets?
Back to the old dictionary we go…(I know I may seem snooty here by work digging up the dictionary, but language and words have deep roots).
If CNN and MSNBC are highly influential in reporting the news, and therefore, in charge of the of current attitudes and thought, then why are there so many Americans leaning towards the right, and are regular watchers of FOX News? It should be noted that those who complain about the mainstream media, also boast about FOX’s high ratings. Yes, FOX is the most-watched cable news network and has been for a long time. So, if that is the case, how is FOX not mainstream? How is FOX not being a source of influence of thoughts and attitudes, as something that is mainstream would be do?
One could also consider the popularity of right-leaning news websites such as The Blaze, Breitbart, and even the cable TV station, OANN (One America News Network). Are they not mainstream too?
Given how divided and polarized the United States is, it is kind of difficult to pinpoint which news source is mainstream and which one is not. You can say all news organizations are mainstream, since they have wide influence over their loyal audiences.
Also, to call the other side of the aisle, or the other side of the news media, “mainstream” is of course, meant to be a put-down. When someone is leans to the right complains about the mainstream media — that would be CNN or MSNBC — it is really meant to say that they are different from the left; “owning the libs” if you will. By saying they are not the mainstream, they are saying they are very different and not cool or popular enough with the rest of society.
But if FOX News has the highest cable ratings, and Breitbart and The Blaze are frequently visited by millions, and so many Americans voted for Trump in 2016, and will do so again later this year, who really is mainstream now? And is their news source mainstream or not?
Just one of the many things to ponder, and to reflect as the United States gets more and more divided.
This post was originally posted on my Substack newsletter, Our Equilibrium, back in late August.