Interesting sentence... a bit nonsensical.
Essentially, the television talk show people have created a dull society in which everyone is hip. And they have done this by fashioning their “follow the leader taste” in a certain way. The author is talking about a period that happened before this.
The thing that makes this sentence hard to understand is the presence of the preposition “of” - Which is a mistake. They should have used “when” or “during which” (this was before the era when…)
Unless I am mistaken ! : )