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David Dimbleby: Complicit in promoting populism (©BBC/Mentorn/Richard Lewisohn)

Extremists are good for business: the louder and more mendacious they are, the better. It is almost funny how the far Left and Right do not realise how essential they have become to commerce. They loudly proclaim their outsider status without understanding they are shop-front mannequins for old broadcasters and new social networks that are as keen on making money and expanding market share as any other business.

Step back, and you can see the appeal. Traditional news sites have “journalists” who are no better than press officers. Left-wing websites have weaselly apologists for Jeremy Corbyn, with an apparently limitless number of half-truths and distractions to suffocate objections to anti-Semitism and leader worship. Right-wing sites have Brexit boosters, who once again spend most of their time denouncing their opponents for raising legitimate questions. They are true propagandists rather than engaged writers because they do not offer intelligent support to their causes while retaining the intellectual integrity to speak out when they believe their allies have made a mistake. Watching them is like watching reporters, who began in journalism with high ideals, taking the easy road and easy money by moving into corporate PR. You think that if you could have told their younger selves what they would become, they would have walked away and chosen a different career.

From a commercial point of view, propagandists generate two kinds of business. Trump, Brexit and Corbyn have made many learn the depressing truth that large numbers of people want to be lied to, or at the very least have their prejudices confirmed. Less well appreciated is that traffic also comes from their shocked opponents, who have their biases confirmed by seeing how politically correct a proponent of identity has become or how far into racial prejudice a right-wing columnist has sunk.

The difference between broadcasters and news sites is that a TV or radio station can increase the commercial benefits of extremism exponentially. Conservative newspapers cannot hire left-wing columnists without alienating their readers. But because broadcasters are non-aligned, they can promote left and right-wing propagandists simultaneously. And not just political loudmouths, but extremists for any and every cause. Most people who make public arguments will eventually receive a call from a BBC researcher asking in an expensively educated voice whether they will reduce their argument to absurdity, and  say 2+2 = 5, or black is white, or night is day, in the most doctrinaire manner they can manage. Grasp the commercial logic behind the request and you will understand modern broadcasting’s imperative to create as much noise as possible. You will understand too why Facebook and Twitter only remove incitements to violence and abuse when they are threatened with regulation by the state.

The retirement of David Dimbleby from Question Time after a quarter of a century has  brought fears of cultural debasement to a head. Dimbleby will be remembered, if he is remembered at all, for fanning hysteria, and his departure provoked something close to disgust as broadcasters looked at their future and recoiled.
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Shin Akuma
September 27th, 2018
10:09 AM
epic gamer style

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