Or are they? Jordan Klepper, of The Daily Show spends a great deal of time making fun of Trump voters, lets call those particular Trump voters what they are, somewhat thoughtless Right Wing voters. Klepper, a very funny man, uses Trump’s own words or deeds against them for sheer entertainment. But is that fair to all Trump voters? And, if not, why not? Obviously, Klepper handpicks the least knowledgeable and most entertaining video clips of Trump followers to ridicule. Still, they are not the only Trump voters who lack information. Others who seem far more sane and rational followed Trump and voted for him.
There’s an understandable reason for that. They don’t have the facts. The reason is very real, and something about which the average person may know absolutely nothing. There are a huge number of media outlets that want you to listen to what they have to say, but don’t want you to know about who sponsors them. Why would that be? Who are they? Are they secret organizations or or do they simply not want attention? Do they hide behind quasi-patriotic and bland organization names to spread misinformation and chaos? Or are they propaganda organizations, working for the Republican Party?
Trump maintains that the 2020 election was a fraud and was rigged by Democrats. But every state has looked into this and every single state, both Democratic and Republican, says that there was absolutely, positively no voter fraud. There were no voter mistakes of more than a hundred or so votes. Small mistakes were caught. They were held out of the original vote tallies. Only later when they were reviewed, before the final tallies were made, were some tossed out and some considered valid. In other words, the final votes already included adjustments for votes held out for further scrutiny. In most states where Republicans challenged voting machine rigging, the voting machines were generally installed by Republicans over the objections of Democrats, who wanted to be able to track every vote, given the hundreds of thousands of Democrats thrown off registration lists over the last decade.
We have all seen Trump’s rant, his totally unverified, unsupported, and even irrational claims. In other words, we know his lies about the fraud and mishandling of the election. What kind of person does this kind of thing? Who would go out to the public, huge numbers of people, and obviously and blatantly lie. Well, it is clear who would do such a thing. A megalomaniac, a dictator, a tyrant, a demagogue does that sort of thing. We’ve seen it in history, only not American history. How can Trump so unmistakably lie and think he will get away with it? Well, he’s not the one who is stupid. What he understands is the mass media. And now you will understand it. Because we’re going to expose the flaws in the Constitution’s message about freedom of the press.
Trump may tweet lies far beyond anything that Breitbart or Newsmax would pretend as news. Hundreds of large media organizations, far beyond what the Fox News cable network can provide, spread erroneous data that reinforces the message Trump wants to deliver. People like Trump and Hitler and Mussolini and Franco and other demagogues want people to believe that trouble and danger is out there, somewhere, just ahead, and they will protect you from it and give you something safer and better. As long as there is suspicion and doubt and fear, a despot can lie to the people and many will respond. That is what happens in a country where lies control the public conversation. And that is why we had Trump.
In the face of a strong free press, however, a tyrant, a liar, a schemer will fail. This is why the first job of the dictator is to shut down the free press, and, as the Nazis did, drown out dissent by smashing the presses and ransacking the newspaper offices, controlling the message on the radio and scattering public rallies, beating participants with clubs. That is why Trump likes the Proud Boys and the troglodytic men with automatic weapons and confederate flags. Autocrats are all about delivering one simple message. You, they say, are in trouble, near to losing all that you hold dear. And I, they say, will save you from disaster and make your lives great again. The problem, of course, is that most of the people, the dictator appeals to never had great lives in the first place. Which is why they immediately identify with him.
For the dictator, the alternative to shutting down the Free Press is creating your own newspaper, your own radio programs. The Republican Party long ago developed just such a thundercloud of media, ready at any moment to unleash storms upon the land, brainwash Americans citizens in volumes of impressions never before seen in this or any other free country. Basically, two men, two billionaire brothers, with virtually unlimited funds began the takeover of the consciousness of America even before the Reagan Administration. Here’s what they did.
The Koch brothers (Actually, there is now only one. The other died last year.) are owners of the second largest private enterprise in the country, one founded by their Father, and based on oil revenues, began to fund Conservative Groups. Initially, their goal was to get people to leave them alone. They targeted low taxes and environmental regulations. They then moved to other, broader issues, as they aligned themselves with with advocates for unrestricted gun ownership, with anti-abortion groups, and with groups that we would generally identify as “reactionary.” In other words, what business does is right. People who complain are lazy, shiftless or Socialist. They fought against using courts to improve the lives of the poor or racial minorities. Anyone with the word “Liberal” or even “liberal” was un-Christian. In reality, the billionaires targeted Liberals because their public consciousness was going to cost the billionaires money in higher taxes.
They started in the 1970s by funding the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and have continued for decades with such groups as Freedomworks, the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity, and much of Americans for Tax Reform. Money buys a lot of exposure, just the State Policy Networks alone (outfits like Illinois Policy Network…at least one in every state) got $83 million from the one of the Koch brothers funding sources. This group provides adjusted and downright false information to legislators and to the media to promote Right Wing legislation.
The Kochs built on their own huge funds by adding other Right Wing billionaires to build even larger financing organizations like the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which in turn recruit more incredibly rich associates. All the groups above, like Cato and ALEC, are connected to the State Policy Network, in each state, to promote participating Republican state legislators who will write their laws, and sponsors, like AT&T and Comcast and Kraft and Coca Cola, who will sponsor events for participating state legislators where they can meet the corporations and solicit campaign funds.
But those are just some of the hundreds of organizations that provide the messages. Those who deliver the messages are even larger, and compared to their real worth to society, or the damage they cause to society, to the Middle Class, to minorities, and to the poor and elderly, make an almost incalculable income compared to their worth. These are the owners of Right Wing radio and now many billionaire supported Internet media sites, who deliver the messages that create fear and confusion among average citizens.
Salem Broadcasting has 115 radio stations around the country. The owner of Salem once told a Progressive broadcaster that Salem had no place for Progressives because if one were a Christian, one could not be a Progressive and if a Progressive one could not be a Christian. Therefore, Salem, founded on “Christian” principles, could not have Progressive hosts on any of its radio programming. Radio hosts on Salem include, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Lou Dobbs, Hugh Hewitt and others who support Right Wing Republican candidates, including Trump, and the entire anti-abortion, pro-automatic weapons in schools and churches, anti-environment–and more–political propaganda line. The same company that owns Salem owns Regnery publishing.
Regnery Publishing generates a host of different books, almost all Right Wing conservative. For example, a book like, “Grace Canceled” which was a book by Dana Loesch, the mouthpiece, for some years, of the National Rifle Association, who also earlier wrote “Hands Off My Gun: Defeating the Plot to Disarm America” Dana Loesch in her second book, pleads for civility from people on the Left (in spite of very little evidence of anything against her except personal responses to her comments, pointing out that she is guilty of terrible insults and enormous outright lies.) In her first book, however, she says about Senator Diane Feinstein, the head of the committee regulating firearms, as having “the posture of a cocktail shrimp” and describing one of the most knowledgeable people on Capitol Hill on firearms as “never learning a single thing about the firearms she proposes to ban.” Which, of course, refers to the gibberish that firearms manufacturers and advocates constantly use to explain that this one isn’t fully automatic and this one is semi automatic and that one takes this clip and blah, blah. These are the same people who think Dana Loesch, a vile rude, lower-class toady is a heroine. They also think the Kardashian family should be knighted by the Queen and Duck Dynasty is an actual dynasty rather than an assemblage of Louisiana semi-hicks.
So, people who listen to Salem get cross promotion from Regnery, who sell the books of Dana Loesch, also publish Carter Page, a Trump campaign manager, who interacted with Russian spies, and Ted Cruz, ultra-Right Wing Senator, and Eric Metaxas’ cartoon book praising Trump: “Donald and the Fake News” (one of several in a series) and books like “The Catholic Case for Trump” and “The Socialist Temptation” or “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” So, you also have books on how to overcome anxiety (it presumes you are anxious) with religion and other religious titles mixed in with people like Dennis Prager, one of Salem’s hard core Right Wing radio hosts who has said in the past on air that the police who killed George Floyd were “completely decent” even though they are being tried for murder, who has said that President Obama was a sissy and that people who have attacked Trump for some of his most outrageous comments are “fools.”
But the Salem empire is not the worst violator of the atmosphere of calm and friendly political debate, and instead substituting, as Prager does, rudeness and insult and then writing books on the terrible attacks he gets from the Left. Which is, of course, anyone, Right or Left, who chooses to call him out for his outrageous lies and terrible mischaracterizations of the comments of others. A much larger Right Wing Network is Cumulus Radio, the third largest radio network with 428 stations, after Entercom, for some reason the second largest radio network with 235 radio stations, and IHeartMedia, (formerly Clear Channel) the largest with 850 radio stations.
Why is this important? Because every day on these radio stations, owned by Right Wing companies, like Mitt Romney’s former investment firm, Bain Capital, which owns IHeartMedia, lying Right Wing hosts have the capacity and do broadcast hours of propaganda to listeners every single day. Radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who calls the coronavirus no worse than a “common cold.” Limbaugh, who says that climate change is nonsense, who has lied about the Clinton Foundation, about Senator Al Franken, falsely blamed illegal immigrant children for measles epidemics they had nothing to do with, said some African-Americans are among our wealthiest citizens, claimed various achievements for Scott Walker in Wisconsin that hadn’t happened, said that President Obama had turned NASA into a “Muslim outreach department,” and while claiming that the media created a simple term “polar vortex” also claimed that the cool air from the polar vortex proved that the earth was not warming.
If you are a listener in a certain market, you may be listening to Right Wing host Limbaugh tell his lies about President-elect Biden or former President Obama or tell some invented tale about some good work done by one Donald Trump. If you switch down the radio dial, you may go from an IHeartRadio station to a Cumulus station. Then you could be hearing hate speech from Mark Levin, who broadcasts from a secret studio because he is so hated, or Michael Savage who was not allowed to enter England for some time because of his hate speech or blind follower of Trump, Mike Huckabee. It matters almost not at all if you change the AM station on your radio because, on all these networks, IHeartRadio, Cumulus, Salem, or other stations, parts of other smaller networks may have the same kind of programming.
Premiere Radio Networks, you see, is a major syndicator. They may have sold the Rush Limbaugh show or Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck another network or another station. So when you switch from Rush Limbaugh, on the station to which you now are listening, you may hear one of the dozens of Right Wing commentators, over 90 different talk programs contracted by Premiere to run on as many as 5,500 stations. That is the influence of talk radio. In earlier years, it was said that one could travel from Miami to Los Angeles and never once be out of the range of Rush Limbaugh’s voice, often on several different stations at once, and often at the exclusion of more important local programming. People may try occasionally to find alternative programming–truth and facts are now the alternative–but they will find it extremely difficult to beat the odds. Michael Medved, an extreme conservative, may be the default for some moderate station owners. But that will be as close as you can get to the truth.
But what if you don’t listen to talk radio and you can’t stand Sean Hannity or any of the other current liars on Fox News. Can you find something to read? Well, you can read a newspaper. Any printed metropolitan newspaper, from Boston to Los Angeles, will print facts, mostly accurate names, and leave much of the analysis to you and, occasionally, a local columnist or a national columnist. But the facts of the story will be accurate. The more significant the story, the more likely that it will be reviewed first by the newspaper’s legal staff. Newspapers must get the facts right, and that is their tradition. If not they can be sued for slander or for libel, two very expensive legal cases to defend and to afford, if the paper loses. but if you stray into the world of the Internet, beware. There are no rules and the Right Wing has taken advantage of that fact, big time.
There are about 50 major mostly Internet sites, some with printed publications, like The WALL STREET JOURNAL, or THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER or REASON, that write with a minimally conservative slant and at worst, a hard Right-Wing, Republican slant, sponsored and catering to the rich, Right-Wing sponsors who provide the money that many need to survive. Any number of the media, like Breitbart.com publish daily articles taking information out of context and reporting it as fact. They position information on Democratic candidates in light of issues that will influence Independent voters against the Democratic candidate. Some of these media releases are partly true, others are nasty and done in the spirit of political competition. But a third group are often done to increase fear or anger or despair by vulnerable groups of the electorate.
From Fox News and their hundreds of stations, to Sinclair broadcasting and their stations, where editorial directors have been forced to deliver Right Wing lies in editorials, following the exact script sent to them by the Sinclair ownership, to the print media to Internet social media, Americans are bombarded by impressions every day. Many of those impressions are designed to keep them from knowing the truth long enough and with enough alternative information to make them Trump voters and supporters of the Republicans, like Senators McConnell, and Thune and Cotton and Cruz, any one of whom would take your Social Security or deny you Medicare or Medicaid in a tenth of a second.
Trump should have been impeached, but his Neo-Fascist followers in the Senate could not do it. Trump should already have been forced to end his lies about the election being rigged. But the Neo-Fascist Senatorial sycophants hide and hope that he does not ask for their support. This man must go. He is bad for the country and bad for Democracy. But the Right Wing Republicans are counting on those think tanks to send information to those media outlets to create messages to the people who get no other information, no way to know what is happening outside Trump’s fantasy world. This is why not all the Trump voters are stupid. Many simply cannot find the truth under a Right Wing Conservative blanket, pressing down on society.