America needs Donald Trump because the country is falling apart.
Things have never been worse.
Our military is a disaster.
The economy is collapsing.
Terrorists are everywhere.
The last eight years have basically ruined the nation.
Donald Trump is our last chance to save America.
I know a lot of people who believe this.
And why not?
It’s what they see on TV or read in the papers every day.
That’s what our ‘journalists’ have been ‘reporting’ for years:
how terrible, how frightening, how dangerous everything is.
The problem is that none of it is true.
None of it.
(And you thought Donald Trump lied).
In point of fact, (just to refute the few points above), ‘things’ (whatever that means) have never been better. The US is today the most powerful country in the world, bar none. We are by far the world’s wealthiest nation, as measured by GDP - $18 trillion. The rest of the world doesn’t even come close. Japan, China and Germany combined don’t even add up. Plus, we pretty much own and dominate the digital and technical world. We are on the leading edge of almost every innovation.
Since the end of the cold war (which we won, by the way), the US stands uncontested at the world’s most powerful nation. There is no one even in second place. The US military is the size of the combined militaries of every other country in the world, combined. Last year we spent $711 billion on defense. China, in the #2 spot spent $143 billion. It drops precipitously after that. We have 10 aircraft carriers. The rest of the world has 10, combined. There are 8400 attack helicopters in the world, we have 6400 of them. Need I go on?
Terrorist attacks in the US? Since 9/11, 45 Americans have died as a result of Islamic terror attacks in the US. That’s it. 45. Bad, but hardly a disaster, really.
Let us put our ‘terror’ in perspective for once. (And credit here to Yuval Noah Harari and his new book Homo Deus). “In 2012 about 56 million people died throughout the world: 620,000 died due to human violence. (120,000 were killed in wars). In contrast, 800,000 committed suicide and 1.5 million died of diabetes.”
Yet, in the US we spend $16 billion a year fighting ‘terrorism’ and just over $1 billion a year fighting diabetes. That’s about $360 million per victim. By way of comparison, we spend about $38 per person with diabetes in search of a cure.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Terror attacks make far better TV than does diabetes research.
Here’s another interesting statistic, again from Homo Deus: In 2010, obesity killed about 3 million people worldwide. Terrorism killed 7,697 people across the globe, most of them in 3rd World countries. ‘For the average American or European, Coca Cola poses a far deadlier threat than al-Qaeda’.
We are terrorized, all right, but we are terrorized by the media. Watch TV, read the papers, listen to the blogosphere and you would think that the nation was on the verge of collapse. It isn’t. In fact, in a very weird way, things have never been better.
But you can’t see it that way because the way you see the world is the product of the news business, and I put the emphasis on ‘business’. The news business is first and foremost a business. It makes its money by attracting the largest possible audience, and then charging advertisers to get access to that audience.
This is true whether it is TV news, newspapers, magazines or websites. It is a never-ending fight for ratings or share or circulation or eyeballs. It’s all the same thing.
And you don’t get ratings or share or circulation or eyeballs by saying everything is pretty good. On the contrary, you get those things by scaring the pants off of everyone, every night.
It’s like plane crashes. Great TV! Seriously. But is plane travel safe? (Do I even have to answer that?). So in the news business, you are always looking for that plane crash. I can remember when I was working for The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour on PBS and there was a hurricane that hit the east coast. We drove around for hours looking for a shot of a tree that had fallen across a wire… or a car… or something. We finally found one – thank God! Then, off to the beach for some crashing waves. In point of fact, there was no story, but you don’t go on the air and say, ‘no big deal’, which was, in fact, the truth. Now, multiply that about a million times over and you get the news ‘business’.
We want Scary Stuff!
They don’t say, ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ (or, in deference to my Columbia Journalism School classmates, if it ledes… OK?) in the news business for nothing. If it isn’t scary you don’t sell papers, or ads for your TV news program or banners for your website. We NEED scary stories. We crave scary stories. We search for them. We fill our papers and websites and news shows with them. They rate. They get eyeballs. Good news does not.
If you would like a measure of just how warped the ‘news business’ is, watch your local news on TV some evening. See what they ‘cover’. A fire, a murder (if they are lucky), a robbery. Now, unless you are the poor bastard who was robbed, murdered, or whose house burned down, these stories, exciting though they may be, have absolutely no impact on you. Yet, terrifying ‘news’ stories, night after night, for years on end, do have a deleterious effect on your perception of just how dangerous the world might be.
The same holds true for ISIS beheading videos – a true godsend to the TV networks. ISIS does their own productions, and they have great production values. You might think that ISIS is the greatest threat to Western Democracies since Nazi Germany. ISIS has 30,000 ‘fighters’. Nazi Germany had about 12 million ‘fighters’ (and one of the most advanced industrial machines in the world). ISIS, needless to say, does not. But ISIS is all the ‘news business’ has, so they make the best of it.
All of which brings us to Donald Trump and his wall, his war on Muslims and Mexicans and everyone else. The news media did not bring us Donald Trump. They just created the very fertile fields in which his own brand of personal terrorism flourished. It was fertile because it was, like any good fertile field, filled with manure. But that manure was laid down day after day, year after year, by our own ‘news business’.
And, as the Good Book tells us, as ye sow, so shall ye reap.
And what we are going to reap now is Donald Trump. And we have no one to blame but ourselves… and our ‘journalists’