Sunday November 13, 2016
How Neil Postman predicted TV could create a Donald Trump
more stories from this episode
- How could we — I — get so much so wrong? - Michael's essay
- Thomas Frank: "Trump won because the Democrats betrayed the working class"
- How Neil Postman predicted TV could create a Donald Trump
- Will the world be less safe once Donald Trump becomes president?
- Dear president-elect: Letters to Donald Trump
- Dear president-elect: Our pilot has shown up - cussing, snorting, handsy, full of spite and trifles
- Dear president-elect: You will not be invited to the conversation until you have made reparations
- Dear president-elect: Climate change is not a hoax, and we're all in this together
- Dear president-elect: Please prove me wrong again
- Dear president-elect: Can a leopard change his spots?
- Full Episode
In 1985, media theorist and professor Neil Postman published Amusing Ourselves to Death.
It was a searing indictment of the influence of television, a medium that cultivated style over substance, not just in the world of entertainment, but in decisions of profound public importance — such as the election of a president of the United States.
He described our trajectory from a society dependent on the printed word to television, which spawned an electorate with the attention span of a goldfish — hooked on messages that are short, shiny and memorable. This, he argued, has had profound consequences on our collective wisdom, on our public priorities and on our political leadership.
Neil Postman died of lung cancer in 2003. Three years later, a twentieth anniversary edition of Amusing Ourselves to Death appeared, with an introduction by his son, author Andrew Postman.
Michael spoke to Andrew Postman about how his late father's ideas explain Donald Trump's meteoric metamorphosis from reality TV star to the world's most powerful man.
Click the 'play' button above to hear Michael's interview with Andrew Postman.