This chapter examines the role mass media plays in the maintenance of social control and policy formulation and implementation in the Trump political era. First, an historical survey of mass media theory is presented and used as an analytic lens through which to identify that mass media has long been recognized as a powerful tool of social control or disruption and in public policy formulation and implementation. Second, this chapter explores the challenges posed to society and policy when a president uses mass media to spread misinformation and disinformation. Third, this chapter identifies the divisive nature of US political attitudes in the Trump era and how social media contributes to cleavage. Fourth, this chapter explores efforts by foreign actors, particularly Russian, to spread discursive and thus social chaos through disinformation campaigns in the United States and other western democracies. This chapter concludes that mass media has been both a divisive and uniting force, although the rise of social media and its susceptibility to manipulation poses a danger to social cohesion and effective public policy formulation and implementation. These factors have contributed to civil divisiveness and lack of policy clarity.
McHale, J.P. (2019), "Mass Media, Social Control, and Political Authority in a Post-Truth Environment", Rabe-Hemp, C.E. and Lind, N.S. (Ed.) Political Authority, Social Control and Public Policy (Public Policy and Governance, Vol. 31), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 259-273. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2053-769720190000031017
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Copyright © 2019, by John P. McHale