I don’t like being manipulated.
I hate phony, self-righteous indignation.
Right now, there is a whole lot of both going on.
Much of it revolves around San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick took a stand against something he finds morally troublesome, and instantly became fuel for a national media that was looking for a firestorm to replace the once-scintillating story of Ryan Lochte.
Kaepernick said he is not going to stand during the playing of the national anthem at NFL football games.
To me? Not a big deal.
But the national media needed a juicy story to stick its teeth into, so they hitched a ride on Kaepernick’s shoulderpads.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” he explained. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Most of the media agrees with Kaepernick’s premise. They agree there is as problem with trigger-happy law enforcement officers.
But the media needs controversy.
So, led by sports talkers on ESPN and Fox, they jumped on this story and turned Kaepernick into the biggest villain since since Charlie Manson.
Because controversy is gold to huge media companies. It means views and listeners and website hits. And that means money from advertisers.
If you frame any story the right way, you can make it controversial.
The national media is very good at framing things.
They have learned how to manipulate the American public.
And the American public is willing to swallow the bait and be used.
This Kaepernick thing? It’s perfect: Rich vs. poor. White America vs. Americans of color. Conservative vs. liberals. California vs. the rest of America.
Controversy — manufactured or not — sells newspapers. Controversy draws listeners to talk radio and users to social media.
This Kaepernick thing is nothing more than a well-orchestrated, media-driven controversy.
It doesn’t take much to inflame the passions of Twitter and Facebook users who really control the Internet, and thus determine what is news, and what isn’t news.
So instead of agreeing with Kaepernick, the media turned on him.
And they created controvery and hate speech and fake self-righteous indignation, which Twitter and Facebook users love.
In a matter of hours, Kaepernick was the No. 1 trending thing on the Internet.
Which to the modern media, means it is news.
Sadly, in American today, the news isn’t really about the news anymore.
The news is whatever is trending on social media.
What constitutes news is website hits and page views.
The news used to be about right and wrong, good and bad.
Now what’a news that is reported is determined by what is trending on social media.
“Network,” a very good movie from 1976 is pretty dead on when it comes to sharing my cynicism about today’s national media. The website IMDB explains the premise of that movie: “A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor’s ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.”
The most famous line from that move is “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
Today, it is not a deranged anchor who is being used by a media company.
Today, it is the deranged thoughts of the most vile and vocal and opinionated users of social media who dictate what is important to the media and sadly, to the rest of us.
I wish more Americans were mad as hell.