Have you seen this meme from Tiffany Trump? “Just for once, I’d like to turn on the News and hear, ‘President Trump is doing a great job!’” That statement is loaded with meaning, but only in context.
When Trump’s daughter says it, it reads like a request, or even a plea, that her father receive more favorable coverage in the media. Coming from a Trump supporter, it becomes a bit more snarky, a barely concealed disdain for “the News”—or should I say “fake news.” And if you saw it from a left-leaning person (or increasingly those folks in the middle), it would clearly be a criticism of an administration thought to have failed to do a “great job” on every single day since its installation.
The context drives the meaning.
I, for one, do not want any news outlet to tell me that any politician is doing a great job. Just tell me what the official did, and I’ll come to my own conclusions. And while I am interested in your commentary (if it’s thoughtful and informed), my ultimate judgment will come from my own critical thinking which will—of course—place that commentary in context.
Of course, there is a place where you can pretty much hear that Trump is doing a great job every single day. Sean Hannity, longtime Trump cheerleader and “the single most important voice for the ‘deplorables’” as described by Steve Bannon, has been the most watched cable news host. Until last month.
Rachel Maddow edged him out of that title with 3.058 million viewers, compared to Hannity’s 3.000. And she won the advertisers’ most desirable demographic—viewers aged 25 to 54. (No comment on why I’m not a desirable demographic.) According to Forbes, MSNBC ‘s ratings this last quarter are up 30% compared to the same period in 2017, while CNN and Fox experienced declines in the same period.
And while it is important to note that Fox remains the top-rated cable news network, there is clearly something afoot. If the old confirmation bias is at play here (and when isn’t it?), cable news consumers are shifting from right to left.
Taking context into account, are those consumers also voters? Will their voting patterns shift in a similar fashion? Recent elections from Alabama to Pennsylvania and now Wisconsin indicate they are.
If the earth is moving under your feet, it doesn’t mean you’re Carole King. It means you’re paying attention. And while the sky may come tumbling down, we can infer from the placement of Ms. King’s lines that the earth has to move first.