I have to admit, I was flummoxed by the results of the 2016 election. Most everyone, Republicans included, thought that Hillary had this one in the bag. Pollsters, pundits, and talking heads were all offering commentary about a victory that they thought was a sure thing – except it wasn’t.
More than three months on from Trump’s election win, the left is still reeling. Protests have become commonplace with hashtags like #resist and #notmypresident gaining ground on social media.
Regardless of the tailspin from an election upset no one saw coming, the results are only one part of evidence of a greater movement taking place.
If we look closely, we see a cultural shift and a new narrative emerging from all the embittered battles and chaos of this past election season – one that involves a myriad of elements that centrists especially may find disturbing – but deserve observation nonetheless. The reason? Because we need to understand how power structures are never really static and the minute you think you have the game figured out, you’ve already lost.
One of the biggest players in this new Trump era is what most are calling the “alt-media” (not to be confused with the alt-right, although some alt-media may have alt-right leanings). You’ve probably heard the newly-minted term “fake news” swirling about everywhere, especially from Trump himself.
Oddly enough, this dreaded journalistic moniker was usually applied to dodgy-type pseudo-news sites people would share on social media, primarily on Facebook. Now, it’s the mainstream media that’s been christened the “fake news” heir apparent – CNN and NY Times mostly in Trump’s line of fire in his caustic tweets – and millions of Americans who’ve long lamented the heavily tilted liberal bias of such are rejoicing in the fracas.
Take YouTube for example. Many Americans are not getting their news at the 6:00 or 11:00 p.m. broadcasts anymore; they are logging on to YouTube to channels like The Young Turks (for a liberal bent) and The Alex Jones Channel (for a far-right perspective) and everything in between. Even more surprising? The Alex Jones Channel has surpassed the CNN Channel on YouTube by over 100,000 subscribers (as of this writing). Early on, Trump was a regular guest on Jones’ broadcast, and perhaps as a result, Jones’ viewership grew.
In a nutshell, ordinary people are changing the way they consume national and international news, and the rubber-stamp of legitimate sources vs. “fake news” has been all but obliterated, at least from the observable habits of the American populace. This paradigm shift is probably just the next phase of the Internet revolution, and a disassembling of the journalistic power structure – and a new age where content can be created, distributed, and promoted by singular entities, not just so-called “credible” news sources with a long history in the press. In other words, when you have Trump, in his usual “bull in a china shop” style telling a CNN reporter in a White House news conference that his organization is “fake news,” the game has decidedly changed.
We will continue to see a new counter-culture emerge of which the alt-media is just one part. The Trump era has begun with a bang, and I can’t help but believe that the non-traditional news outlets are a big part of how our 45th President ascended to power like a thunderbolt out of the blue.
This blog and its contents are the opinion of the author.