Drama. Conflict. Violence. Bloodied streets, sacks of human flesh lying in a ditch covered with bruises and dried blood. The mainstream media lives for content like this. In order to draw your eyeballs like a moth to a flame for long enough to last through an ad break, they saturate their screens and pages with negative coverage showcasing the worst of humanity and the natural world. Accuracy and truthfulness are good only for as long as they are useful tools to increase the audience.
The late 90’s bond flick “Tomorrow Never Dies” is about a megalomaniacal media baron that engineers’ death, destruction and mayhem in order to fuel his media empire. Pulling the strings behind the scenes in order to expand his reach, impact and monetary gain and paying for all this with human suffering and death. A person such as this can surely be described as despicable and absolutely evil, a person fit to be a Bond-villain. You don’t have to contort your brain into a pretzel to see parallels with the modern media of today. The scale is lesser by an order of magnitude, but the similarities are still there.
A fantastic example of this thinking and media malpractice can be found in the coverage of the protests surrounding the inauguration of Donald Trump. A lone protester would set fire to a trashcan while literally surrounded by TV-camera crews. I distinctly remember seeing a picture of camera people almost literally stepping on each other in order to get a good angle. The limousine that was torched received massive coverage, pictures of flashbangs going off were looped way out of proportion with their actual use. The media purposefully framed the events to be as dramatic as possible, all in the name of ratings. And we all know what good ratings means when the advertisement breaks come.
One angle of this is deliberately skewing coverage to frame events in as dark a light as possible. This distorts people’s perception of reality, a dangerous thing to do in a democracy. Another angle of attack is creating conflict, like the Bond-villain himself. At least one German journalist relayed the whereabouts of Canadian journalist/activist Lauren Southern during the recent G20 protests in Hamburg to known left-wing groups prone to violence. The journalist responsible thus attempted to create a scene in which he would have a good angle to cover a violent attack upon Southern. The scale is different, but the principle is the same as the plot of the movie where the villain attempts to engineer World War III.
We also have seen many examples in recent years of coverage inflating the number of demonstrators in the streets through deliberately using pictures misleadingly. I remember seeing pictures purportedly showing massive crowds demonstrating in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Pictures emerged afterwards showing a tiny group tightly bunched together with a journalist in front taking pictures claiming this tiny group was instead a sea of people. Recently in London CNN was caught staging a fake Muslim anti-violence protest.
At some point, you gain moral culpability for the results of your actions. The desired escalation of the level of violence and hatred in society has already had negative consequences with much more to come. When your actions mirror the villainous scheme of a Bond-villain, you seriously should take a long, hard look in a mirror and question yourself. Not that they will, unfortunately.