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Peter Lavelle: The mainstream media’s politics of illegitimacy

During the American presidential campaign western media overwhelmingly disgraced itself with biased and even fake news. Common sense would dictate some level of self-assessment and the need to a return to real journalism. Sadly, but predictably, this is not happening. Something else is in play: the continued erosion of the mainstream corporate media’s impact on audiences.

A strong and compelling argument can be made the mainstream’s gross negligence when reporting on the election in fact helped propel Donald Trump into the White House. Legacy media attempted to turn Trump, and those who supported him, into a pathetic national joke. Interestingly this provided Team Trump with huge amounts of free exposure and advertising.

From the primaries to the election it was all about “what outrageous thing he said today.” Instead of focusing on issues and having a honest examination of Hillary Clinton’s disgraceful record and highly questionable ethical history, the media acted as if Clinton’s victory was a mere formality. This insulted millions of people and cast into doubt the legitimacy of the electoral process. It also angered voters who demanded to be listened to and not talked at.

The election also showed how millions of voters have had enough of the liberal elites vapidly ridiculous and divisive “cultural wars.”

When the votes were counted the political elites of the major parties, the donor cast, and most importantly the media were in “shock and awe.” The reason they got it so wrong is because they listened to themselves and ignored the election all together. They were disappointed with the outcome not because they got it so wrong, but because they arrogantly showed how they believe the people got it so wrong.

In the minds of these elites the popular will is manufactured from above and given to the people to validate. These elites have no need or even liking of democracy. In fact they loathe democracy. The recent vote recounts is a testament to this pathos.

Hillary supporters have opined the Russians were behind Wikileakes’ barrage of exposed emails damaging their candidate. The FBI is also faulted for re-opening (actually re-activating) its investigation into Hillary’s security lapses. Fox News is even blamed. In reality only a few vocal on-screen personalities were pro-Trump, while many others were lukewarm or even skeptical of the Trump’s candidacy.

All of these claims are trivial and even token footnotes in the election. All of these claims deflect from what really happened – the liberal mainstream media failed to practice ethical journalism and it is abhorrent for them to admit this. Instead, they have decided to double-down on the failed strategy of delegitimizing anyone who disagrees with them. No one should be surprised about the mainstream’s sudden embrace of the “fake news” meme. This embrace is a form of shameless hypocrisy.

Trump won the election, but the mainstream acts as if the campaign continues. Its new goal is to de-legitimize Trump before he takes office, then later to de-legitimize his presidency. This is a childish, though dangerous strategy. It is a strategy that will only further the general disgust with the mainstream media and trust in democratic institutions.

The strategy that Trump should pursue is the same one he applied during the election and since: address the public directly via social media. Legacy demands it be the ultimate filter of news so it can shape and control the narrative (to serve its narrow interests). Trump needs to deny legacy media this all-important function. Let the mainstream media and their selfish backers continue to chatter among themselves – let them chatter themselves into oblivion.

Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.

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