In a segment Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” liberal writer Kurt Andersen appeared to long for the days in which a small, exclusive club of unaccountable executives controlled the entire media narrative.
Appearing on the show to plug his upcoming book, “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History,” Andersen bemoaned the extremely polarized state of contemporary American politics and its supposed detachment from reality, which he blames in part on the mainstream media’s losing their ability to peddle a single narrative.
The “Establishment media operation and apparatus, for all of its downsides and bigotries and complacencies … it kept the worst hogwash out of the stream,” Andersen said. “Now … that gatekeeping function was either stolen from the descent reasonable establishment or mooted by, say, the internet.”
Initially, Andersen highlighted two main culprits for the contemporary political psychosis, pointing to the moral relativism which became en vogue in the 1960s and the development of presidential-politics-as-entertainment, which began under Kennedy, grew under Reagan, and had matured to a full-grown monster by the time Bill Clinton played saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show.”
“In the late ’60s, it got kind of out of control with the reality checks and balances,” Andersen said. “Another thing that happened in the ’60s … presidential politics did become kind of a subset of entertainment.”
But when it came to the area of the mainstream media, prodded on by MSNBC host Willie Geist, Andersen slammed the proliferation of varying viewpoints and ideas in modern society.
“What is the media split-up — you know, where you can find your own narrative and hear your views confirmed depending on which cable news channel you watch, depending on what radio station you listen to, or what website you read, the fact that you don’t even have to entertain the other side, whether you’re on the right or the left — what has that done to all this?” Geist asked.
“Well it’s a huge part of it,” responded Andersen. “For all of the legitimate complaints about the mainstream media — there was only three networks, Walter Cronkite, and The New York Times, and Time, and Newsweek.”
“Well, that establishment media operation and apparatus, for all of its downsides and bigotries and complacencies and everything else … it kept the worst hogwash out of the stream,” he continued. “That gatekeeping function was either stolen from the decent reasonable establishment or muted by, say, the internet.”
After delivering his eulogy to the days when the Establishment media ruled all, MSNBC host Eugene Robinson asked, “Is there a way back to objective reality, or are we stuck in fantasyland forever?”