The Immigration Fracas: Paging Daniel Boorstin

Rush talked about this today so I looked it up — it’s very important analysis and so true. Here is Steven Hayward on the immigration fracas (how is it that so few elected Republicans understand this?):

Watching the collective media and political class freak out over the “crisis” of immigration enforcement at the border sent me to my bookshelf to dust off Daniel Boorstin’s classic 1961 book, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. Step back for a moment from the whack-a-mole problem of sorting out fact from fiction in this current drama; the way this is playing out is a perfect case study in what Boorstin had in mind.

Boorstin defines a “pseudo-event” as not merely a fact or real event that happened, but a fact or event that is made into “news” of a certain kind by a deliberate and artificial process. You might think of Boorstin’s analysis as no more than the Deep Theory of Public Relations (or as the first analysis of what we today like to call “fake news”), and many of the examples in the book come from the corporate world. Here is some of his description of the dynamics of a “pseudo-event”—see how many aspects of this you can make out in the present controversy:

1.  It is not spontaneous, but comes about because someone has planned, planted, or incited it. Typically it is not a train wreck or an earthquake, but an interview. [More on this point in a moment—SH.]

2. It is planted primarily (not always exclusively) for the immediate purpose of being reported or reproduced. Therefore, its occurrence is arranged for the convenience of the reporting or reproducing media. Its success is measured by how widely it is reported. . .

3. Its relation to the underlying reality of the situation is ambiguous. Its interest arises largely from the very ambiguity. . .  Without some of this ambiguity a pseudo-event cannot be very interesting.

Read more: Powerline Blog