Mass Media 1920s
By Cal Thomas
Tribune Content Agency
When future historians analyze the decline of America they need look no further than the trivialities increasingly occupying our time and concerns instead of substantive matters seriously threatening our existence.
The latest in a long list of examples is the two-hour ABC special last Friday devoted to former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner and his coming out as a transgender person. Two hours! Neither ABC, nor any other media giant, has paid that much attention to international threats from Russia, China and the rapid rise of Islamic fanaticism, not to mention the Bill and Hillary Clinton financial empire.
What is wrong with us? This constant feeding of our lower nature and fixation on what not long ago was regarded as bizarre, even perverted, is contributing to a warped culture and the devaluing of the qualities necessary to stabilize society. It is as if a lid has been lifted from the sewer and all the waste is now flooding the streets, posing a threat to our national well-being.
In his forthcoming book “1920: The Year That Made the Decade Roar, ” Eric Burns writes that the mass media, birthed in that year by the spread of radio, is largely responsible for diverting our attention from things that matter to things that don’t.
This passage from the introduction fixes the blame: “It began with radio, whose allies quickly became the newspapers with their tabloid value systems — and, in massing, the two media would form the most persuasive and pervasive of all American industries, as they went about making far too much of matters ever less consequential, the private lives of actors and singers, musicians and authors, comedians and athletes, heirs and heiresses, perpetrators and victims, millionaires and billionaires, and, later, disgraced public officials, pitchmen and anchormen, radio and TV talkers, sitcom stars, drama stars, game show hosts, chefs, bloggers, Internet jesters, and even carefully chosen nonentities, some of whom would headline their own sublimely unrealistic ‘reality’ shows.”