Occasionally, I find it enjoyable to imagine myself attempting to obtain information on a subject using only mainstream media sources. Earlier this week, when Trump’s healthcare proposal went up in flames, establishment media sources were saturated with coverage — the perfect opportunity for just such an experiment.
Across the wall-to-wall coverage, they discussed many things at length. They pondered whether Paul Ryan should resign, and if his once rising star had faded. They asked how the spectacular failure of the bill fit with the ‘Trump: Negotiator Extraordinaire’ narrative, and whether or not Trump called the details of the bill “shit” during negotiation. Further, there was a vigorous argument over who deserved credit (or blame) for the fate of the bill — Democrats or the “far-right” Freedom Caucus.
What they did not discuss, however, was any sort of ideological meat of the issue. What were the policy disagreements between Trump and the “far-right,” or the Democrats, or progressives? What were the alternate solutions proposed? There was no time for these discussions between the individual character storylines.
I watch professional wrestling, which I am happy to concede can be silly and, as far as stimulation goes, equated to eating a piece of frosted cake. Establishment media is somewhat the same thing.
On a certain level, I enjoy the dramatic tales of Paul “The Babyface Assassin” Ryan, “Nature Boy” Donald Trump, Barry-O and “Scranton” Joe and the rest of the characters. But the idea that one could gain any sort of serious information from these establishment media storylines is, to quote the orange-hued “Nature Boy,” sad.
I sometimes like to watch mainstream media not as if I am watching pro-wrestling, but as if I am watching Donnie Brasco or The Departed, or some other movie where a member of law enforcement is attempting to infiltrate a criminal organization.
Instead of a character attempting to obtain information by pretending to be a criminal, the mainstream media attempts to disseminate corporate disinformation by pretending to be human beings.
Every so often, however, a crack will appear in the façade and a piece of real information will slip through.
During one broadcast, the otherwise forgettable host mentioned that Trump should stop trying to work with the Freedom Caucus section of his party, and instead seek to work with moderate Democrats.
Ah yes, it would be just that easy to settle into the familiar political framework; the tangible realization of the “one-party system.” One can imagine Hillary Clinton receiving the same suggestion about progressives had she won — Forget Bernie, John McCain needs military money.
The tragedy within this political comedy is that on many issues the Freedom Caucus and the Progressive Caucus are in agreement in their criticism; though perhaps they would differ as to why, and certainly would present dramatically different solutions.
When either group looks at Trumpcare or Obamacare (or its predecessor, or Romneycare, or Hillarycare, etc.), they see a healthcare system built on first guaranteeing the profits of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
Earlier this week, a Freedom caucus member said of the Trumpcare proposal, “there is no natural constituency for this bill.”
A profound statement: There is no natural constituency for the bloated, unaffordable, corporate giveaway that is American healthcare (unless you’re talking about the constituency of those who fund and lobby the political class).
There is such an interesting ideological discussion to be had. The “far right” criticizes the health care system and suggests the solution is to eliminate government involvement in healthcare altogether. Progressives may agree with the critique, but ask: if a fundamental service of government isn’t to ensure the health of its citizens, what is?
The vast area of agreement across most ideological ‘constituencies’ — that the healthcare system should be about providing its citizens with adequate care, rather than providing a few corporations with enormous profits — is not something which will be discussed within mainstream media.
Personally, I intend to enjoy establishment news in the same way that I enjoy Monday Night Raw. I am excited to find out if Paul Ryan will grow a beard again this year, because he looks bad-ass when he does. Will Hillary return at Summerslam or the Royal Rumble (I mean, the mid-terms, or 2020)? I wonder if Trump will appear at Wrestlemania for the third time.
But using mainstream media to get information on politics is like using Caitlyn Jenner and the Kardashians to get information on the Trans community.
I think after Raw this Monday, I will read a book.
This article was originally posted on Medium.