If I had to sit down and write out a list of “WTF happened” to White people in America, the rise of the mass media (radio, film, and television) in the mid-twentieth century would be in the Top 5 list.
In the Jim Crow era, the typical White Southerner got his news from a local newspaper controlled by a segregationist editor. By the late twentieth century, newspapers like The Montgomery Advertiser and The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer had been snapped up by corporate conglomerates and staffed by liberal journalism school graduates.
The pyramid structure of the mass media in the mid-twentieh century was a necessary factor for the national and international triumph of anti-racism. Think of the iconic scenes of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham and Selma and the influence that had on bringing about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act.
In the late twentieth century, the pyramid structure of the mass media began to crack with the rise of cable television and talk radio. The breakdown has accelerated though under the strain of the internet and social media.
Television has fractured along partisan lines since the rise of FOX News in the 1990s. Most of the cable programming you pay for in packages is useless and subsidizes various liberal projects.
So what happens when television is Netflixed by the internet like your local Blockbuster or Movie Gallery?
“And lots of newspaper companies went broke or almost went broke. And the stock of The New York Times Company, the country’s premier newspaper, fell from $50 to $6. (See: “The Incredible Shrinking New York Times”)
In other words, newspapers were screwed. It just took a while for changing user behavior to really hammer the business.
The same is almost certainly true for television.
In our household, as in many households, television consumption has changed massively over the past decade, especially over the past 5 years.”
Hardball With Chris Matthews is on MSNBC right now.
Perhaps one day in the near future the only people who will still be watching Chris Matthews or Lawrence O’Donnell will be a niche audience who subscribes to their feed not all that different from OD readers.