A few choice bits from Kim-Mai Cutler’s excellent interview with Stanford historian Fred Turner:
The irony is that with Donald Trump, we are seeing a medium and a set of tactics designed to confront fascism being used to produce a new authoritarianism.
One of the things we see with Trump and the Twitter-sphere is that when new technologies come on the scene, they don’t replace old technologies. They layer onto older technologies.
Twitter and its liberating potential is already mass mediated. It’s already commercial. When Donald tweets, he isn’t just tweeting to a general populace. He’s generating stories for CBS and NBC, and for that matter, Facebook. He’s generating stories that create an entire media sphere on their own. That is the source of his power. He is using the old fascist charisma, but he’s doing it in a media environment in which the social and the commercial, the individual and the mass, are already completely entwined.
“Fake news” is only part of the problem. The real problem is actually more of a structural problem. Media firms in lots of different subsets need to make money on advertising. When you are dependent on advertising, controversy is good. Truth ceases to matter. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. What matters is that it gets a lot of attention.
If Donald Trump is a fascist, he’s a fascist for this time and this country, because the source of his power is his ability to manage and grab attention. He’s constantly seeking it. It’s a weird kind of charisma, and in that seeking, he draws us together, no matter how much we might disagree with his ideas.
A good framing of the situation.