Talk about counting your chickens before they are hatched, but I think now is the time to start thinking abut the institutional changes that we can make that will prevent a repetition.
Establishing the validity of truth versus lies. When the US Supreme Court liberalized libel law to project the media, little did it, or anyone understand that it was legalizing massive and uncorrected falsity. We have to create some kind of procedural mechanism for the establishment of falsity. My own thought is that it should be possible to bring a court action against the lie itself, in such a way that it is not about money, but about establishing truth. Just think if such a mechanism existed to conclusively rebut the peddlers of the birther poison. At a minimum it would give the fact checkers a common direction, and finding to which debate opponents could appeal.
Wee tend to get deeply discouraged that around 40% of voters say they approve of Trump. But remember that only a third of those say that his policies are what matters most. The rest like the “personality”, whatever that means.
Remember, they met that personality on TV, and much of his early success was simply name recognition. Remember how Mike Dukakis parlayed a very different TV program, “The Advocates” to a national nomination.
At one level, therefore, the TV networks just have to be much more careful about who they build up. (How do you think the person who at NBC who accepted Trump’s pitch feels these days?)
Which leaves Fox!
There are many ways to constrain this aberration, with libel law changes being one, but always lurking in the background is the old fairness doctrine. A way should be found to resurrect this, such as by limiting the exception when the number of meaningfully different outlets falls below a certain level. Alternatively, controlling Fox through advertisers might become a long term project.