When one analyzes, deconstructs, and interprets media discourse in the United States, we have to first ask ourselves whether certain media entities and individuals are representative of public opinion or whether certain entities and individuals are attempting to shape public opinion by imposing their own narrow views of reality on the American public. Once we realize that the latter situation is true, in the sense that certain entities and individuals in the mainstream media are attempting to shape public opinion by imposing their narrow views of reality on others while censoring other viewpoints and shutting many people out, then we can understand what mainstream media discourse in the United States is trying to achieve.
Thus, when CNN emphasizes “democracy” or says “democracy in peril” over and over again, the actual concept or the idea behind these expressions and terms can be found once they are actually deconstructed. Once deconstructed, expressions and terms such as “democracy” or “preserving our democracy” means keeping Tony Blinken, Janet Yellen, and Merrick Garland in power forever, while preserving a safe place for individuals like Bill Kristol to laugh and smile on television after having aided and abetted the murder, displacement, and torture of millions of people in Afghanistan and the Middle East over the course of the last two decades. Also, “preserving our democracy” means allowing trivial and inconsequential individuals with very little value in society like Elie Honig to intimidate and threaten anyone who does not conform to his very narrow view of reality from his bully pulpit, while shielding Fareed Zakaria from facing any consequences for supporting the Iraq War.
Moreover, the overall situation that is perpetuated by the American mainstream is also accentuated by the fact that freedom of expression and freedom of speech is reserved for certain entities and individuals while others are restricted and limited in terms of their freedom to express themselves in the American public sphere. Double standards define the reality of mainstream discourse in the United States. And we can understand why double standards prevail once we understand the basic social functions of the media.
As Harold Lasswell has argued, the media fulfills four basic functions in a society: “surveillance of the world to report ongoing events, interpretation of the meaning of events, and socialization of individuals into their cultural settings” in addition to the “deliberate manipulation of politics.” Thus, “the manner in which these four functions are performed affects the political fate of individuals, groups, and social organizations, as well as the course of domestic and international politics.”
Thus, if someone does not want Tony Blinken, Janet Yellen, and Merrick Garland to be in power forever, or if someone wants to condemn Bill Kristol for being allowed to laugh and smile on national television after having aided and abetted crimes against humanity and being able to question why Elie Honig gets to threaten everyone with getting handcuffed on a daily basis, informed individuals should push back with the technological tools at their disposal in order to perform the basic social functions that the other side is performing around the clock.
But perhaps there is an even broader purpose behind pushing back against the mainstream discourse. As Professor Steven D. Smith wrote in a book titled “The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse,” the purpose is to emancipate American minds from the “iron cage” of a corrupt mainstream discourse. As Smith said: “It is that cage – the cage of secular discourse – within which public conversation and especially judicial and academic discourse occurs today.” But to free others, one must first free themselves, and it was this emancipation process which has defined my life after having finished grad school a little more than eight years ago.