The first Republican presidential primary debate last Wednesday attracted some 12.8 million viewers according to Fox, slightly down from the 15.4 million viewers on average who watched the GOP debates in 2015 and 2016. Meanwhile, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s interview with Donald Trump, released on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) on the same night as the debate has amassed more than 260 million views.
The juxtaposition of these two media events highlights an emerging trend in the American media landscape that must terrify the legacy press and corporate newsrooms. While it has been the case for some time, it is now glaringly obvious that platforms like podcasts, YouTube, and especially X under the leadership of Elon Musk have far more reach and influence than the mainstream media ever even dreamed of having. This phenomenon has fundamentally altered the way most Americans get their information and what information they receive.
Two weeks ago, I described figures like Carlson, Ben Shapiro, Lee Smith, and others – independent voices who question the establishment narrative and bring content unsanctioned by the ruling class to the masses – as “America’s New Media Minutemen,” likening them to the ragtag local militias who formed the backbone of the Patriot cause in the early days of the American Revolution. I argued that their ability to expose the blatant dishonesty and hypocrisy of mainstream news sources is creating a new media ecosystem where information distribution has become far more decentralized and democratized.
The GOP debate and Trump-Tucker interview further highlighted how this emerging media ecosystem is analogous to another institution of the Revolutionary period, the colonial “Committees of Correspondence.”
Prior to the first shots being fired at Lexington and Concord, the Committees of Correspondence played a vital role in galvanizing support for the cause of independence. Hundreds of committees made up of local Patriot leaders like Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and Caesar Rodney throughout the colonies coordinated with one another to disseminate information about actions taken by the British Crown and inform people of their political rights to oppose them.
When new laws like the Stamp Act and Townshend Acts went into effect, the committees explained to everyone from the cities to the countryside why they should be outraged at the latest example of British tyranny. Their communications took the form of everything from letters to public speeches.
Ultimately, the network of committees created a sense of unity between towns and colonies, forming the ideological bedrock of the Patriot cause. Instead of 13 independent colonies fighting alone against the world’s most powerful empire, a sense evolved that British oppression was not just a Massachusetts problem or a Virginia problem, but an American problem.
Today, Americans are beginning to form new Committees of Correspondence to challenge the power and authority of a different kind of oppressor: their media and political elites.
This was clearly evidenced by the jaw-dropping reach of Tucker Carlson’s interview with former President Trump. Carlson himself has “only” 9.9 million followers on X. The fact that over 260 million people viewed his conversation with Trump means that people who saw it shared it, either by reposting or sending it directly to friends and family.
Various other examples point to the unavoidable conclusion that Americans are fed up with the lies and obvious narrative engineering of the corporate press, and are instead creating their own information-sharing networks. Even in the face of obvious censorship by Big Tech, for instance, individual Americans sharing and talking about the Hunter Biden laptop scandal forced it back into the political mainstream. The efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, the evidence for the lab leak theory, what actually happened in Benghazi, what the government really knows about UFOs, the horrific truth about gender change surgeries for minors, and just how much money the Bidens have raked in from foreign businesses are all issues that our media, political, and cultural elites tried to suppress, but which broke through anyway because ordinary men and women were able to coordinate with one another and force those in power to address them.
The exponential growth of platforms like Substack and Patreon, which allow journalists and content creators to relay information unfiltered by corporate editorial teams that have their own political and ideological agenda, is another example of how people are forming their own news networks independent of legacy institutions.
Email, texting, and social media have replaced letters, pamphlets, and soap box speeches in the town square, but the purpose of these new Committees of Correspondence is still the same. While the first generation of Patriots used their underground lines of communication to defeat a giant monarchy and create our Republic, today’s Patriots are using digital information avenues to save the Republic by exposing the corrupt mainstream media, Deep State, and political establishment.
While those legacy institutions would like to portray the battle against them as merely a fringe conservative crusade, the truth is that voices at all points along the ideological spectrum are building their own Committees of Correspondence. Figures like Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, Michael Shellenberger, and Joe Rogan are hardly right-wing heroes, yet they have all created their own information distribution channels and have exposed the corruption of media organizations which, overall, they largely agree with politically.
Nonetheless, President Trump, a Republican, is a champion and indeed one of the first progenitors of the new Committees of Correspondence. Through his masterful use of Twitter during his 2016 campaign and throughout his first term, Trump constantly punched back at the mainstream media and challenged their false and misleading claims. The millions of views that each of Trump’s tweets garnered broke the hold the legacy press had by and large previously held over the prevailing political narrative.
Over the next year, the growth of the new Committees of Correspondence will be one of the most important factors in determining if Trump can not only win in 2024, but effectively govern. The success of the mainstream media at weaponizing COVID-19 against Trump, suppressing dirt on the Bidens, and perpetrating a whole host of other hoaxes ahead of the 2020 election showed the power that they still wield in American culture. In order to win next year, the new Committees of Correspondence will need to shatter the credibility and influence of the legacy press which is now determined to make Trump out to be a criminal and an enemy of the people.
National polling showing Trump tied with or even leading Biden in hypothetical 2024 matchups, as well as the fact that trust in the mainstream media is at an all-time low, suggests that this may already be occurring. Just as a determined group of rebels broke the seemingly unshakable grip of the British Crown over the American colonies more than two centuries ago, a new generation of Patriots may yet break the stranglehold that the media and political establishment has on American democracy today.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @ShaneHarris513.
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