Whether your favorite television station for news is a local station, FNC, CNN, MSNBC or even The Daily Show, most likely your favorite station is preferred because you agree with most of what they say. It’s only normal that, as humans, we surround ourselves with like minded individuals.
But recently, many of these television programs have become more extreme. Is there a reason for this? I think there is one thing to blame: us. You. Me. The viewer.
Rush Limbaugh is one of the most extreme individuals. Does he believe absolutely everything he says? I sure hope not. Many of the extreme things he says is strictly entertainment. I do not blame the man for creating an empire. Unfortunately, many of his listeners take to heart what he says and genuinely become extremists. In order to keep listeners, Mr. Limbaugh then must spout even more extreme thoughts. And the cycle continues.
Martin Bashir and Melissa Harris-Perry are two recent examples of extreme words. They most certainly are not alone. It’s almost as if the news networks have taken to name calling and stooped to third grade levels instead of legitimately debating the issues.
If you ask someone, they will tell you they despise this sort of talk. However, ratings say otherwise. Fox News racked in a billion dollar profit in 2012. Yes, one billion in profit. Mr. Ailes would not keep a network alive if it wasn’t making money and a network doesn’t make money without viewers to attract the advertisers.
Outrage seems to be the new norm. What can be done about this? Nothing.
I am usually an optimistic person. But I do not see a way out. Let me rephrase: I do not see a plausible way out. Is it possible? Yes, but not plausible. We are not an organized populous. We embrace too many of our differences instead of our similarities and, until that changes, we will not be able to create substantial change.
Are enough people going to stop watching Fox News to cut their profits in half? Are people going to stop tuning in when Mr. Limbaugh is on the air? Do people really want balanced and rational news or do people really prefer the outrage?
People do not care enough to make a change. I am not optimistic about going away from outrage in the news. It’s what sells and it’s what people want. Ultimately, it boils down to this: people don’t want to think; they want to be told what to think.