In an erudite feature in the Weekend Australian Paul Kelly, the paper’s editor-at-large, analysed the US election campaign and tried to explain the Trump story.

“Despite all flawed past prophecies it is surely impossible to view the ghastly freak show of the US presidential election without apprehension that we are witnessing the decline of a civilisation and the death of the virtues that made America great.

“Donald Trump should never have become the Republican nominee for president. His nomination and his campaign is the greatest failure of the Republicans and of American conservatism since World War II. The crisis has been decades in the making.

“It is the culmination of a profound historical trend: the abandonment by the US ruling class, in particular the political class, of its responsibility to exemplify and uphold standards of character, integrity, competence and civility for the nation. The American ruling class seems hollow at its core and its public policy atrocities of the past 20 years now loom as a staircase to catastrophe.”

Well argued, nicely written, but missing one major and very important point: the role of the US media — especially one media company in particular (now two) in creating and nurturing the Trump monster and his cohorts. Not a mention by Kelly of the role of The Wall Street Journal, especially its editorial page and its clique of right-wing commentators, who helped feed the birthers, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the tax cuts and other economic policies that Trump has exploited — not to mention the ferals of the Tea Party.

But most egregiously, Kelly did not mention, or expand on, the most important media outlet of all in the rise of Trump: the role of Fox News Channel, in providing platforms for the Trump gang and his supporters and forerunners (the Tea Party) to talk, debate and extol their crazed conspiratorial view of the world with like-minded people on what became the most watched cable channel in the US, and one of the most profitable.

Nurturing right-wing groups such as the neocons and then the Tea Party helped make Rupert Murdoch and his family rich; FNC is now the single most important business in the whole empire. Its revenues of more than US$15 billion are close to three times those of News Corp and its earnings of well over US$1.2 billion are a large multiple of News Corp’s. And all that has come from exploiting the growing US political divide by supporting and giving a voice to some of the paranoid crazies of the US right. — Glenn Dyer

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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