Musings —09.15.2016 09:03 AM—
Three – and this key, in the Era of Trump and Leitch – to affect public opinion, the mainstream media needs to have an understanding of public opinion. But, increasingly, we don’t.
The reasons for this are myriad. Polling – to which we are hopelessly addicted, like fentanyl – is flawed, and makes many more mistakes than it once did. Also: social media has distorted the aforementioned social consensus that used to exist about was “important.” And, finally, technology has enabled citizens to become their own editors, rendering the likes of Peter Mansbridge completely irrelevant, like totemic relics from a forgotten epoch.
Up here in McLuhan’s homeland, we saw the truth of all these things recently. Kellie Leitch, a Conservative MP desperate for both attention and her party’s leadership, declared that she would screen immigrants and refugees for “anti-Canadian values” (whatever those are). On cue, and as Leitch clearly hoped, lots of politicians and media folks were apoplectic. They condemned her and wrote stirring editorials about values (whatever those are).
And then, the Toronto Star – the paragon of all progressive values and Atkinsonian principles, no less – sheepishly released a poll showing that, um, two-thirds of Canadians agreed with Leitch. Oops! So much for manufacturing consent. So much for an omnipotent, all-seeing media, per McLuhan, “investing our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.”
Personally, I don’t give a sweet shit about whether two-thirds, or three-thirds, agree with Leitch or not. Her questionnaire stunt was a naked appeal to latent bigotry, one designed to draw out the very worst in people. It worked.
Good for her, shame on us.