The landscape of the American media in 2017 is as uncertain as it’s ever been. Sober news institutions that have held up the fourth estate for generations are downsizing and being bought up by technology billionaires. Internet upstarts that emerged from the slow collapse of the old media are being sued out of existence. The president of the United States is screaming “fake news” from his bully pulpit at organizations that have done nothing more than relay the facts. Websites peddling actual fake news successfully gamed a market that rewards eyeballs at the expense of everything else, possibly swaying an election in the process. Readers are increasingly getting their journalism from Facebook or Snapchat instead of a newspaper or nightly TV show, and news organizations have responded by publishing articles directly to social media, circumventing themselves entirely in a desperate bid for relevance. The executive chair of the internet’s most popular white nationalist website is now the White House chief strategist, and his old cronies are now rubbing shoulders with the New York Times and Washington Post in the presidential press corps.
It’s a dizzying situation for those of us who care about journalism. You could fill entire books about this period in the history of the press, and people surely will. Alternately, you could just watch the following video of Breitbart News reporter Charlie Spiering interviewing Sean Spicer on Facebook Live, captured by a cinematographer who may or may not have been having some sort of epileptic fit while the interview was taking place. In just two minutes, it captures so much about what’s weird about the media today: the populist-white-nationalist paranoia, the sycophantic bids for access to power, the skin-crawling awkwardness with which journalists are approaching new technologies and platforms, the bizarre spectacle of Sean Spicer himself. “This executive order was compully compliant with the law,” Spicer deadpans at one point, perfectly showcasing his uniquely expressionistic approach to the English language. We couldn’t have said it better. Watch it below.