I have often wondered why the U.K. seemingly has succumbed to the pernicious influence of liberal/progressive elites in even greater measure than our country. A recent book, The Noble Liar, by Robin Aitken, has helped me understand. Why should we in the U.S. care about the downward spiral of the BBC? Did you read my previous post, Celebration Constipation? I said I would try to explain what lies underneath the domination of the national media by Perfectionist Progressives.Before answering that question, here are some relevant excerpts from the book:
“The newspapers share of influence has dwindled while that of the broadcasters, and now the online newsites, has grown ever stronger.”(Page 16). “The left dominance of the airwaves has had profound consequences.”(Page 18)” 92% of UK adults use a BBC service at least once a week and 80% of UK adults consume BBC News each week; BBC online is browsed by 30 million unique UK users weekly and 51.5% of UK adults are regular users”(Page 21). 57% of people say that they put trust in the BBC compared with other main news providers. The BBC has a weekly worldwide audience of 372 million people. The BBC is the U.K.’s most important cultural export by a very large margin.“The BBC gets a pass because most people take it for granted that it is a benign influence. In BBC world we are all liberals now. At the heart of the story, is a nexus of media interests which is militantly liberal in outlook, and which has systematically destroyed the foundational beliefs and practices which informed the lives of previous generations. This process started in the post-war years, gathered strength in the 1960’s and, since then, has enjoyed virtually uninterrupted success in the furtherance of its goals. There have been many players in this long game– crusading lawyers activist judges, organize pressure groups– but the most important by far has been the BBC itself.”(Page 40).
In the U.K., there is no national broadcaster which champions a conservative social agenda. “So completely has the social conservative view been eclipsed in media-land that I suspect many program makers do not even understand that there might be a valid view different from their own. The BBC is an organization whose staff are, overwhelmingly, drawn from a particular strategy of society –the meritocratic elite– and that strata is becoming evermore ossified in terms of social mobility… This wouldn’t matter so much for the BBC were it not for the fact that, along with membership of this class, goes a set of assumptions and values that turns out identikit opinions.” You might say, “well that’s Britain, how’s it relevant? We don’t have that kind of dominance by a single media outlet. The NPR is the closest thing structurally to the BBC—a quasi government assisted/funded media—but far from dominant.” That’s true. The United States might be too large, too diverse for that kind of dominance of any one thing, but lest we breathe a sigh of relief, we might have something just as relentless for homogenizing public opinion.
The following is essential for understanding our own political and cultural divide. John Marini, author, Unmasking the Administrative State: The Crisis of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century: “The Ethics in Government Act, passed by Congress in 1978, established the Independent Counsel statute. This legislation was justified on the ground that executive discretion must be subordinate to law. But that masked its political purpose, which was to insulate the permanent, unelected government from political control. The Independent Counsel statute was devised to stand as a bulwark against any president or senior executive branch official who dared threaten the centralized executive bureaucracy put in place by the Democratic Party majorities of the 1960s and ’70s. It weakened the president’s political control of that sprawling bureaucracy and strengthened Congress’s hand in managing it. Ultimately, it had the effect of transforming political and policy disputes—adjudicated by the elected branches of government, and thus by the people—into legal disputes in which the people have no part.
“For nearly two centuries of our nation’s history, prior to passage of the Ethics in Government Act, there existed no legal mechanism of government outside the political and legal authority granted by the Constitution to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The Constitution established the separation of powers as the ground of adjudicating all political disputes. Members of the elected branches would defend their institutional interests, motivated by self-interest and by differing opinions regarding the public good. In the most serious political disputes, the legislature had the constitutional power to impeach the president—in which case both sides could make their case to the public and the people could decide.
“Today, by contrast, the political branches, rather than defending their institutional interests, tend to accommodate the administrative state. The centralized executive bureaucracy has become the central feature of government, administrative rulemaking has replaced general lawmaking, and rule by bureaucrats has replaced rule by elected officials. Nationally organized interests were well equipped to adjust to this new way of governing, and they continue to have access to, and be well served by, the Washington establishment. Citizens who exist outside those organized interests, on the other hand, seem to sense that they have been disenfranchised and that government no longer operates on behalf of a public or a common good. This explains the deep social and cultural division underlying the 2016 election results that shocked and awed the Washington establishment.
“We see today, in the two-year Mueller investigation and its aftermath, yet another attempt to destroy an anti-establishment president using a legal rather than political process of adjudication. The most notable difference between this scandal and Watergate is that President Trump has so far succeeded—largely through his relentless characterization of most of those in the media as dishonest partisans rather than objective reporters—in preventing the scandals surrounding him from being defined, by his enemies, in legal rather than political terms.”
I cheered August 9, 1974, when President Nixon resigned, under the relentless media assault, and in the face of almost certain impeachment, because I simply accepted those opinion makers of the national networks as truthful, rather than agenda-driven. It could not have occurred to me that 42 years hence, another media-unpopular President would also be subjected to a similar national media—driven campaign to find reasons for impeachment. Now I understand Trump’s strategy for his war with the national media. Could it be that HE understood all along that this ideological war was necessary, because the administrative state, the powers-that-be, could only defeat the constitution with the help, even collusion, of the national media, the Mediated Reality establishment?
Whether or not he understood this, one only needs to look across “the pond”, as they say, to see the depressing homogenization of public opinion from the country that brought us Monty Python and other fantastic humor that might never again be allowed to have an audience.