June 27, 2016 (San Diego) I am sure many of our readers have followed the vagaries of the financial markets. It is not like you can avoid it since the mainstream media has yet to tire of reporting on a possible recession. For the record, the see saw will continue since markets hate uncertainty, but what the markets also hate is when the elites are wrong. None in the elites expected BREXIT, or for that matter to see Donald Trump be the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. So far our media elite has been wrong on both of these ten ways to Sunday. It is worth exploring why. It will tell us a lot about the bubble the elites are currently living in.
Why? I mean isn’t the press supposed to be left leaning? Aren’t they supposed to be for the people and hate corporations? Not quite, and part of the answer is in how much national anchors make. Prepare to be shocked.
Here are some of those people you might have seen on your television. Matt Lauer makes $25 million a year. That is hardly bad money and to be fair, he is the highest paid in the list that The Daily Beast compiled a few years back.
Yes, the list is from 2012, and appeared on the Daily Beast, but gives a good idea of why top tier media cannot do justice to issues that matter to lower middle class people. So what about Wolf Blitzer? He only makes $3 million, as of 2012.
What about Anderson Cooper? He makes a not too shabby $11 million. So here is the problem. Granted, these are super stars and their delivery of the news has little to do with actual news. What they deliver, or gather is incidental to the job. After all, what they are doing is pushing a brand, their brand. They are the brand. But they also are committed to Neoliberalism as an economic and political system and would never question the system in any major way.
So what does this have to do with Trump or BREXIT? These anchors are honestly shocked that people could vote against the establishment and many academic studies. They rejected the view from the elites that the European Union was good for the United Kingdom. This is a class cohort that a whole has not benefited from the European Union, or globalization.
They told a Guardian Reporter this:
In Hanley, I started asking people what they thought about the referendum and if they wouldn’t mind telling me how they’d be voting. There was little reticence. “Out,” they would say. “No question.”
“Why?” I’d ask.
“Immigration,” would come the response. “We want our country back.”
In the United States it is the same class cohort, the lower middle class, that is voting Trump, and is rejecting the establishment. They also want their country back and while some are trying to make this about race, it is about class, class resentment.
What has happened in the United States since Ronald Reagan has been similar. Whole areas of the country has stopped production. This same cohort also blames immigration and other factors.
By Patrickklida – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6076583
But they media is missing this part of the story. Partly they cannot identify. The lives and hardships of this working class might as well be happening in the Congo for all they care.
These are not people who are going to have the interests of those who are suffering under the current economic system in mind. So what about local anchors? Well, there their wages are closer to the median of the American public. According to Sokanu.Com:
Average News Anchor Yearly Salary in California:
News Anchors earn a median salary of $55,800 per year. Salaries typically start from $21,120 and go up to $174,860.
There are other variables, such as market size, education and experience. But the pay for an anchor in a local market, doe snot even start to compare with the pay that a national news personality can get.
Why would a local anchor not understand Trump? Part of it is ideology enforced from above. It is in their interest not to understand the Trump phenomena, just as it is in their interest not to cover poverty or working class issues extensively. On the other hand, you will have more crime stories than you stomach, not becuase crime is on the way up, it is not, but because that helps to keep a story line going.
In fact, the answer to Trump in the US, or for that matter BREXIT, is in very similar dynamics. The people who report the news have an interest not to report on anything that might hurt the prevailing ideology. They might be liberals at heart, but these are liberals who will not rock the boat. Talking about income inequality, and poverty, **is rocking the boat.** Perhaps someday one of these anchors will go national, and make the big bucks.
One of the things that we are facing is a return to the merit based success story of the end of the 19th century. Incidentally, we are also seeing a return to a similar oligarchy as what existed back then, and similar levels of income inequality. The fact that you do not have that job at CNN that pays $11 million dollars is **your fault, and due to your choices.** It has nothing to do with the fact that there are structural reasons why you might never be able to get that job. Part of it is social connections. You did not go to the right schools, or know the right people.
Still, the pull yourself by your bootstraps has infected all, and that includes reporting. Good reporters have gone to the correct schools, and have succeeded on their own accord. So they do not get, or identify with the concerns of the lower middle class. This is a lower middle class that has seen their income first flatten and then go down over the last 30 years. They cannot understand the anger from people who have not been the winners in life. Nor do they have the encouragement to get it from the social class for which they report. Nor do the corporations that own the media need them to go there.
The media in general identifies with the core ideology of modern day capitalism, and things like populist anger are going against that ideology. The idea that people might embrace a man that is promising to bring back jobs and make the country great again is alien to these analysts. The country has been pretty good to them. But the country has not been good for the lower middle class that is voting with their wallets and their anger. They are being rational actors, who are saying no more.
These working class people do not want to hear how good trade has been for the United States, or the cheap goods they can get, buying products that they made at one time. For example televisions, washers and driers. Jobs for which they were compensated fairly and could afford to send their children to college without getting a second mortgage. These days they are barely making it, and their children will not go to the same school with the same connections, as the elite. When they graduate, they will not be able to get the same jobs either. They know the system is stacked against them.
In fact, for the most part, our media does not talk to working class people, or to lower middle class working people. They do not understand the tension that has emerged becuase jobs have left, sometimes overnight, to places like Mexico and China. Those workers know that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) did not bring anything good to them. Ok, perhaps some cheap baubles, that they can buy at the dollar store, becuase they cannot afford anything better.
This is the same media that refuses to talk to people living in deplorable conditions, while the TV shows even working class people living in conditions that are beyond their purchasing power. So what if workers have cell phones? The fact is that most workers still live from pay check to pay check and cannot pay for an emergency. It is not becuase they do not save. They cannot afford to save. This is the story of the Rust Belt, the industrial heartland, that has lost jobs, good union jobs, by the millions. This is what some experts who care, have called the disciplining of labor.
Those good jobs have been replaced by service jobs, such as fast food and retail, that hardly pay as well. It is not limited to the industrial heartland. Here in San Diego we used to have a very vibrant aeronautic industry. Convair built planes here. We built rockets for the space program, and later on cruise missiles. Those jobs are gone. Many of them went to Mexicali, which has become a new vibrant center of the aeronautics industry.
Some of the things that Convair built were the Atlas rockets, some of which took the first humans to space, such as the Friendship 7 space capsule. They were essential for the Apollo program that put a man on the moon. They also launched the first probes to leave the solar system. These were the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11. These were good paying union jobs. and the last bargaining unit of that Union is mostly gone. The old Convair building is part of the Navy Space and Naval Systems (SPAWAR) Command.
What happened to that union parallels what happened in the midwest and this is why people are angry, and willing to vote to throw all the bumps out. This is why the British working class voted for BREXIT, and why our working and lower middle class is voting for Trump.
It is a rejection of an ideology of globalization that has concentrated wealth on the top one percent, but has not benefited the rest. These same analysts have accused these voters of being racist, xenophobes, and ignorant blokes. (And to be fair there is some of that.) But this is not why they are voting against globalization and the end of the good jobs they once had. They want to take their dreams back. Analysis making six, seven and eight figure salaries have no interest to understand this, or in fact the capacity.
There are some differences and that have to do with population dynamics. The lower middle class British who voted for BREXIT is mostly white and older, but still a majority population. In the United States, there are important minority contingents that will not vote for Trump, but the way we do elections, if he does well in the rust belt, he may very well eek a victory and become president. We at Reporting San Diego wrote many moons ago that this was possible. Perhaps it is becuase we do report on those issues that affect the lower middle class every day. We have our ear to that part of society that for the most part feels ignored by both politicians and the media. They are correct, they are mostly ignored.
They are also correct when they are once again starting to talk, in very hushed tones, of class identify. That talk, which was almost banished from the American way of life, and is still absent from the top tier, is starting to come back. Assuming it ever fully left.
It is also part of the concept of race, but that is for another day.