Posts Tagged ‘Fox News’
‘Democrats have their own SuperPAC, it’s called the mainstream media.’- Senator Marco Rubio (October 28, 2015 Republican Presidential Candidate Debate)
Anyone who’s ever worked at one of the broadcast television networks knows that their staffs are composed of a hodgepodge of political (and a-political) opinions. The only agenda is to be relevant and interesting to the 18-49 year old American adults who advertisers yearn to reach. There’s also the news division’s quest, which they take very seriously, for journalistic integrity.
Here’s something to consider. By definition, doesn’t’ “mainstream media” mean that it resonates with the majority of people; the actual mainstream?
Of course, the reason that “mainstream media” is such a tempting target for these politicians and for demagogic radio and TV personalities is that the audiences to whom they are pandering tend to be fringe groups; outsiders who perceive themselves as special, unique and superior to the majority of their fellow citizens. Therefore, media who represent the values and attitudes of those in the mainstream must, somehow, be tainted.
And who, actually, are the “mainstream media”? Are they just the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks and their cable news subsidiaries? Is Fox News a member of the “mainstream media”? What about Facebook and Twitter? One could argue, given their vast audiences and news dissemination services that they also belong in the category of “mainstream media”.
So, the next time you hear someone attack the mainstream media, it might be worth asking yourself exactly which fringe group that person is trying to impress.
Saturday’s assassination attempt of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords which claimed six lives has some pointing an accusing finger at radio and cable TV hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, claiming they had a role in the incident by provoking an unstable person. But INSIDE RADIO reports that the talkers are pushing back, calling it an unfair attack on conservative hosts.
What do you think?
To alert people to this blog, I posted links on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. My experience is that my postings on Twitter never receive responses and are rarely retweeted but I view using it as a connection device to be a learning experience. On both Linkedin and Facebook, I don’t know if people actually link to this site to read the entire blog but they usually post their responses on those sites.
Not surprisingly, the responses tended to fall along party lines. Those folks whose politics tend toward the “progressive/liberal” camp seem to believe that the rhetoric heard on talk radio and cable TV in some way influenced the Tuscon tragedy. Those whose politics are more “conservative” seem to believe that liberals are trying to use the tragedy to impose restrictions on their First Amendment rights of free speech. Unfortunately, South Caroline Representative, James Clyburn (a Democrat) is fanning that particular flame by championing a return of the Fairness Doctrine. I’ve written previously about how anachronistic, outdated and absurd that notion is considering 21st Century communications technology.
In any case, the debate on this topic has certainly been lively. Although I have concerns about what sometimes seems like the irresponsible use of inflammatory rhetoric to manipulate audience reaction and ratings, my sense is that it wasn’t much of a factor in the case of the shootings in Arizona. I was especially impressed with these reactions from columnist David Brooks and The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart:
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Polls show that 60% of Americans don’t believe that political rhetoric caused Jared Loughner’s assassination attempt on Rep. Giffords. Nevertheless, it seems to me that those who dismiss the impact of inflammatory rhetoric are making a mistake. Research shows that humans, even those of us who relieve that we are reasonable and rational, react emotionally and then rationalize to reinforce their beliefs.
In times of economic instability like we’ve been experiencing for the past decade in the United States, fear, insecurity and distrust become more prevalent as what Seth Godin likes to call our lizard brain takes control. Couple with that the ability that we have with the internet, various cable TV and social media to filter the information we receive. Now, we can choose to avoid all that inconvenient information which doesn’t reinforce our beliefs.
I can recall watching coverage of the 2008 Presidential campaign when a woman in John McCain’s audience started ranting about how Obama was evil and wanted to destroy America. The woman looked like an average grandmother but she was regurgitating this rhetoric and McCain looked stunned and embarrassed. He felt it necessary to reassure her that Barack Obama was a good person and an honorable man, not something that this woman or his supporters wanted to hear.
Another woman waiting in line to enter a McCain/Palin rally told an interviewer that Obama was a socialist who wanted to destroy the country and that he wasn’t an American citizen. She was very matter-of-fact as if these were proven facts rather than unsubstantiated rumors spread through the internet.
Albany Times Union editor, Rex Smith makes some cogent observations in this recent editorial:
Those of us who’ve worked professionally in media know how easy it is to manipulate an audience. It can be a source of childish delight to watch your audience jump through hoops at your whim but it’s also important to take responsibility for your actions and for the results of those actions whether or not they are intended.
Words have consequences.