The following excerpt is courtesy of OR Books.
Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes us Despise One Another will be released on October 8. We encourage you to shop local and visit our friends at Talking Leaves Books or Burning Books. Buy the paperback and/or e-book versions of Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes us Despise One Another online at OR Books, Amazon, or your favorite other online bookseller.
FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO HATE INC.
Now more than ever, most journalists work for giant nihilistic corporations whose editorial decisions are skewed by a toxic mix of political and financial considerations. Unless you understand how those pressures work, it’s very difficult for a casual news consumer to gain an accurate picture of the world.
This book is intended as an insider’s guide to those distortions.
The technology underpinning the modern news business is sophisticated and works according to a two-step process. First, it creates content that reinforces your pre-existing opinions, and after analysis of your consumer habits, sends it to you.
Then it matches you to advertisers who have a product they’re trying to sell to your demographic. This is how companies like Facebook and Google make their money: telling advertisers where their likely customers are on the web.
The news, basically, is bait to lure you in to a pen where you can be sold sneakers or bath soaps or prostatitis cures or whatever else studies say people of your age, gender, race, class, and political bent tend to buy.
Imagine your Internet surfing habit as being like walking down a street. A man shouts: “Did you hear what those damned liberals did today? Come down this alley.”
You hate liberals, so you go down the alley. On your way to the story, there’s a storefront selling mart carts and gold investments (there’s a crash coming – this billionaire even says so!).
Maybe you buy the gold, maybe you don’t. But at the end of the alley, there’s a red-faced screamer telling a story that may even be true, about a college in Massachusetts where administrators took down a statue of John Adams because it made a Hispanic immigrant “uncomfortable.” Boy does that make you pissed!
They picked that story just for you to hear. It is like the parable of Kafka’s gatekeeper, guarding a door to the truth that was built just for you.
Across the street, down the MSNBC alley, there’s an opposite story, and set of storefronts, built specifically for someone else to hear.
People need to start understanding the news not as “the news,” but as just such an individualized consumer experience – anger just for you.
This is not reporting. It’s a marketing process designed to create rhetorical addictions and shut unhelpfully non-consumerist doors in your mind. This creates more than just pockets of political rancor. It creates masses of media consumers who’ve been trained to see in only one direction, as if they had been pulled through history on a railroad track, with heads fastened in blinders, looking only one way.
As it turns out, there is a utility in keeping us divided. As people, the more separate we are, the more politically impotent we become.
This is the second stage of the mass media deception originally described in Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman’s book Manufacturing Consent.
First, we’re taught to stay within certain bounds, intellectually. Then, we’re all herded into separate demographic pens, located along different patches of real estate on the spectrum of permissible thought.
Once safely captured, we’re trained to consume the news the way sports fans do. We root for our team, and hate all the rest.
Hatred is the partner of ignorance, and we in the media have become experts in selling both.
I looked back at thirty years of deceptive episodes – from Iraq to the financial crisis of 2008 to the 2016 election of Donald Trump – and found that we in the press have increasingly used intramural hatreds to obscure larger, more damning truths. Fake controversies of increasing absurdity have been deployed over and over to keep our audiences from seeing larger problems.
We manufactured fake dissent, to prevent real dissent.