The Media is the Massage—or Message?


Required reading for many college students in the 1960s was a book called “The Media is The Massage”. It was written by Marshal McLuhan who purposefully substituted the word MASSAGE for MESSAGE.

The term “Message” assumes two components. The first is content which is simply information. The second component is described as the character of the message. This involves shaping, timing and sequencing a message and providing for a context for the message. Media outlets focus on controlling the second component of “message” All forms of media from print to electronic to Hollywood movies convey information and as such, they have the ability to shape feelings and thoughts.

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As any educator would tell you character is formed by the information we receive from outside sources. We try to assimilate this information in a logical fashion so we can make everyday decisions and judgements. Information can also be used to indoctrinate. When a narrative is established and information is used to fit the narrative, this is information being “Massaged”.

People today are very good at receiving information (content) but they are very poor a discerning the “character” of that content. This is not unique to any particular political faction, but it does speak to the process we use to make decisions and form opinions. Specifically, it speaks to the way we educate our children both at school and in the home. “Test the premise”. “Present the contra position out loud” and understand that when assimilating any form of information or data be skeptical of its “Character and content”.

One of the ways to create an opinion is to cloak a message in emotion and not logic William Osler the father of Internal Medicine warned in his classic book “Aequanimitas” that when a physician or surgeon is faced with a difficult clinical dilemma, divorcing oneself from the “emotion of the moment” is important so that logic and discernment can be applied.

I have watched witnesses before legislative committees describe the trials and tribulations of their own personal lives, or watched news footage of tragedies in our own communities and from all over the world. My heart breaks for those less fortunate than I or for those who through no fault of their own are living on the margins, but the solutions to complicated problems both social and economic comes from putting long term strategic systems in place by investing in the lives of everyone.

An example of this type of discoordinate thinking is the Medicaid Expansion argument when people who currently are receiving Medicaid the population of patients that Medicaid was originally supposed to help, will now be placed in competition for access to providers by the young healthy expansion population. Feeling sympathy and empathy for one group of people can actually hurt the most in need.

Over the past two years, I have become increasingly concerned with the way hard news is being presented with an emphasis not on content or context, but with an emphasis on emotion. The symbiotic relationship between media in all its’ forms and policymakers has further convoluted the way information is being transmitted to everyday people on a daily bases.

The media has become an actor in the very play that they are supposed to be evaluating. In fact, I sincerely believe in many cases the media is the force driving politics and not politics informing the media. Instead of a government agency telling the media what to print think maybe PRAVDA or TASS now the media is telling the government policymakers what Bills to pass, or maybe they are themselves the source of intelligence or evidence in a case before the law think FISA. What is worse, the media controlling the government or the government controlling the media? And the context and message that they are presenting is almost exclusively being colored with Hate and the American people are not haters and they reject those who hate.

When the content of the message is colored by the character of hate there is no message and the haters don’t even recognize the “log in their own eye”, but the results of their hating are being seen all over the media landscape. ESPN / CNN / MSNBC / WaPo / NYT / McClatchy news are all seeing readership and viewership dropping. In fact, McClatchy—the publisher of the Idaho Statesman—was reported today in the WSJ to be positioning itself for a bankruptcy filing. People don’t believe what they are printing or presenting.

The hate always hurts the hater the most and this is exactly what is happening. The disdain that progressives have for those “clutching our guns and Bibles,” or as Hillary called everyday people “deplorable,” is why they are imploding. They have nothing to sell us but hate. A common characteristic of haters is that what they see in others, that they hate, is exactly what they hate in themselves. Psychiatrists call this “transference”.

People who work hard and support themselves, those who create value to other’s lives and well- being are proud of themselves and seldom hate. Most of us are too busy living our lives, providing for and raising our children. We have no time to hate or for those that do.

As Rudyard Kipling put it: “If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.” The media and the progressive left can no longer “Massage” their message of hate. And we on the right refuse to give in to their lies. MAGA

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