There is a highly visible split in America that is barely recognized and seldom talked about, but is growing both in reality and in understanding in the new age of technology.
Those who have a megaphone for what they want to say and preach…and those who don’t. This is not your traditional haves and have nots. This cuts differently.
Those who have a megaphone — which I am defining as the ability to reach large numbers of people through social media, normal media and other means — include the traditional media, the emerging media, public media, the music industry and Hollywood (movies and TV.)
Those without the megaphone are the rest of America. However, and this is key, almost the entirety of the megaphone crowd represents the minority liberal point of view in American. The Megaphone Left. According to Gallup, 25 percent of Americans describe themselves as liberals and 36 percent describe themselves as conservative. Yet that one-quarter has virtually all the megaphones.
Further, the Megaphone Left has always been able to decide who it hands its megaphone to, and that has traditionally been heavily weighted to the left, i.e., politicians, government leaders, professors and “experts” who are usually part of either colleges or think tanks.
So in actuality what has been happening is that the Megaphone Left drives the narratives and is the unchallenged culture driver. Hence our culture has moved leftward to the great frustration of many without a megaphone.
But two things have happened that are changing those dynamics.
One thing that has happened is social media. Facebook and Twitter specifically have opened the door for the other 75 percent. The advent of online and alternative news sources that are conservative have exploded because they can access the America not represented by the Megaphone Left.
The other thing that has happened is Donald Trump. Trump was his own megaphone — although the Megaphone Left gave him an enormous hand in the Republican Primary with more free coverage than all of the other candidates put together. Why? Probably a combination of good ratings and hoping to tank the Republican nominee. Few thought he would really ever be president.
The Trump campaign and more importantly the post-election response has been dramatically enlightening to the America without a megaphone speaking for them — who can now view what is happening in live time via social media. No more can the Megaphone Left filter and mold what all Americans see. It’s live and it’s not pretty.
A specific example of Megaphone Left damage
The Megaphone Left narrative has long been that the dominant white culture continues to systematically discriminate against blacks.
But this narrative lept forward in 2014 with the fatal shooting of black man Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., after he had robbed a convenience store and assaulted a police officer.
The Megaphone Left ran with the “hands up, don’t shoot” story — which never happened. They hyperfocused on a police action that turned out to be completely justifiable, as even the Obama Justice Department concluded. Yet they lit the fire with their megaphonal coverage. (This included the media, of course, but all the rest of the Megaphone Left.)
The loss of truth in this story was followed with continuing media narratives in Baltimore and Milwaukee and other places. Virtually every time a cop (black or white) killed a black man, the narrative blasted the same thing. Cop kills black man!
There was an “epidemic” of police violence against black men, particularly unarmed black men, went the megaphones. But that is just not true.
Philippe Lemoine, a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at Cornell University, has been researching the issue extensively and pointed to this amazing fact for context in a National Review piece:
“Last year, according to the Washington Post’s tally, just 16 unarmed black men, out of a population of more than 20 million, were killed by the police. The year before, the number was 36. These figures are likely close to the number of black men struck by lightning in a given year, considering that happens to about 300 Americans annually and black men are 7 percent of the population. And they include cases where the shooting was justified, even if the person killed was unarmed.”
So it is more likely that an an unarmed black man will be literally hit by lightning than be killed by the police.
And yet the megaphones continue their blaring to the damage of all Americans, but most specifically blacks. But even as a lot of Americans are waking up to the misinformation showering them, there is soaring frustration that their worldviews, and truth in general, have few megaphones.
The impact of the megaphone divide
The impact of the long-term one-sided Megaphone divide is that Americans were misled. And changes in the landscape mean they now know it, and most also realize they have few megaphones of their own.
Like anyone who has been cheated (or cheated on) over a long period, this has resulted in significant trust issues. Trust in the media is at its lowest point since Gallup began polling in 1972. Two-thirds of Americans don’t trust the media to some degree. And tellingly, the breakdown is dramatically different between Republicans and Democrats, with 51 percent of Democrats trusting the media but only 14 percent of Republicans.
Of course, you are reading all of this information on an internet web site which reaches people through social media. A mere 15 years ago, none of this information could be disseminated to you in any realistic way. A conservative in a mainstream newsroom could see it, but there were precious few of those and there was no outlet to reveal the truths.
Resentment and anger are the natural response to being lied to and cheated on. And that is the response of the America not represented by the minority Megaphone Left. It helped propel Trump, who brought his own megaphone to the game, and it will continue to fuel opposition to whatever the Megaphone Left is dealing.
Unfortunately, what we see is a knee-jerk response by increasing numbers of Americans to disbelieve every media report negative about Trump. This is a mistake, of course. There is still real journalism being practiced to various degrees in different outlets. And Trump does head-smacking things sometimes.
However, this has been brought on entirely by the Megaphone Left, which not only set up much of the division we are seeing, but continues to fuel it. In politics, culture and society, for every action there is a reaction. And the reaction to the unmasking of the Megaphone Left is fixing to be a big one.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.