The Mass Media Cult Goes Pathological
In the five months since the election, the media haven't been able to get over getting Trumped. They've gone through the five stages of grief, some of them over and over again, and still The Donald drives them crazy. Hillary was one of the worst candidates in history, but it didn't matter. In our Mass Cult mind, she couldn't lose.
This is a mass media pathology, as we can see from their uncontrolled emotional outbursts. The latest is Comeygate, which looks like a trap Trump laid for James Comey, who came out of the White House babbling that the president had demanded Comey's personal loyalty – a no-no by Watergate standards. But Comey has no Oval Office tapes, so it's his word against Trump's. Comey has no evidence, while making an "impeachable" allegation against POTUS.
Where's John Dean when they need him?
Every time they lose another power player in D.C., like Clapper and Comey, they have to go through the five stages of grief. First denial. Then tears. Then asking God to make it not so. On and on.
If these people weren't so malignant, I'd feel sorry for them.
This is a kind of death anxiety for the American ruling class, which is also why they constantly fantasize about killing Donald Trump. For psychiatrists, it's an interesting mental disorder, and it's too bad that millions of Americans still depend on Mass Cult for their daily news. This is not a college textbook; it's America today.
When Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo first showed how normal Stanford students could be cultified, I felt skeptical. It couldn't be that easy. Basically, the kids were voluntarily isolated, so all their daily sources of real news were blocked. Then some authority figure sold them a bill of goods, and the test was whether they would obey a plainly illegal command – to give "dangerous electrical shocks" to a confederate, who yelled in pain.
(Today this experiment is illegal, but it has been repeated in other countries with low-level shocks given to animals.)
History books have been written about crazy cult behavior, especially utopian cults. But we think they have no real lesson for our lives because we aren't crazy.
Most people don't realize that "media concentration" – a functional news monopoly, day after day – has the same effect as cult indoctrination. It doesn't matter if Disney Corp. has a different name from the New York Times. It matters only that they tell the same "news" story every day. For a mental mass monopoly, you don't need to violate anti-trust law. All you need is mass media that make up the "news" by consensus, not by empirical reality. Dr. Michael Barone actually looks up facts for his political column, but he is a rarity in the media business today. The Big Media are basically playing telephone.
Closed cults like Jim Jones and Scientology do some very nasty stuff, and when it gets to the Kim Jong-un level they build nukes and fire ICBMs over countries like Japan. Today, Kim III is pushing his WMD program as fast as he can, and where Kim goes, the mullahs follow. Iran and North Korea co-develop those weapons and test the bombs underground in Korea, but the mullahs get the same technology.
The bottom line is that any ideological monopoly creates cults.
Where the United States used to have about 80 different newspaper owners in 1980, today we have fewer than a dozen conglomerates, with only one storyline.
The JournoList scandal showed that 400 "journalists" (propaganda liars) were able to drive the "news" in the U.S. and Europe. They are still doing it, because nobody can stop them.
What we are seeing is cult pathology on a mass basis. That is pathogenic (it makes people genuinely crazy), because cults that hear only one mental channel become delusional. (The "Russian election hack" scam is a classical mass delusion.) Fear gets amplified enormously by the headline rumor machine, which cult followers can no longer distinguish from reality. The old 24-hour news cycle is now every hour on the hour, and human beings can easily get flooded with too much information, so their judgment is impaired. We are seeing all of that in the media today.
Everybody has defense mechanisms, even healthy people, but healthy folks tend to ward off anxiety by rationalizing danger, both real and imagined. But medical students, for example, can become hypochondriacs with whatever disease they are studying this week. You study heart attacks twelve hours a day without enough sleep, and you start wondering if your heart is okay. Medical students are physically very healthy, but med school is what it is.
Healthy people do get over all that, but if you're caught up in the Mass Media Cult, every single day, and you don't get enough time to recover, you become stressed out and ultimately dysfunctional.
Historians will look back at this time as a case of mass hysteria on the national level. Ph.D. dissertations will be written about the Trump Mass Hysteria of 2016-17, but by that time the grad students will be lolling in easy chairs and chatting about the Third Millennia Frenzy, like Orson Welles's radio drama of 1938, The War of the Worlds.
Technology gets faster and more powerful, but human beings don't change.
I suppose it's a kind of poetic justice, the biter being bit, but it's sad to see. Maybe conservatives should get together and send them all a good supply of cheap whiskey, the traditional newsman's medicine. I'm sure it'll work for newswomen, too.