The Beatles famously sang “All you need is love…” well if you’re looking to be a successful media proprietor, shock jock, political pundit or dare I say blogger you need more than just love. No, to get your voice heard, your print read, you need another thing, you need hate.
Who knows about this little trade secret, this little trait the taps into the heart of people’s prejudices? Who other than Melbourne’s own Rupert Murdoch. There are several classic examples of Rupert’s work on this front and what could be more of a classic example than Fox News. For every person that loves Fox there are three that hate it. Does that affect its ratings? Hell no!
Despite some decline in its ratings Fox News is by far and away the highest rating cable news network in the US. The 24 hour news cycle means that a great deal of air time has to be taken up by anything other than news. Enter the political pundit, a job that was pretty much isolated to commercial radio. The migration to began after the terrible events of 9/11 and during the subsequent wars that ensued.
Punditry has evolved so far now that in many publications it’s difficult to tell the difference between opinion and news. Opinion is replacing facts. A classic example of this is the climate change debate, where the vast majority of the world’s scientists agree that humans are having an impact on the globe’s climate. Then you have the tiny weeny number of scientists that say, “Nah we’re not”.
That’ll be enough for many pundits to latch on to and in some instances make a career out of opposing the obvious and attracting the hate of the masses.
It takes a massive ego to be a successful pundit and in a way it’s quite easy to understand how they get them. They are usually paid ridiculous amounts of money, they reach millions of people with their daily rants and have politicians and celebrities at their beck and call whenever there’s a policy to push or a product to sell. Once they get their audience their ego is almost impossible to keep confined.
Take for instance Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, who as he keeps the reminding us, the biggest name on cable news. Unlike in Britain, Australia and most other western democracies, where leaders are fodder for disrespect and lampooning by hard hitting interviewers, in the US it’s different. The president is expected to be treated with courtesy and respect to an almost reverential degree. Try telling that to O’Reilly, as you will see in this clip.
O’Reilly and his spin free zone has his fair share of haters mainly for his characterisation of anyone slightly left of centre as being from the “radical left” as well as a whole litany of other reasons. It hasn’t done him any harm though.
Probably the grand daddy of all shock jocks in the US is Rush Limbaugh. By far and away the highest rating radio presenter in the country and I’m also tipping that the majority of people that listen to him hate his guts.
Have a look at the next clip where he mocks Michael J Fox who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and is an advocate for stem cell research.
It’s pretty hard not to dislike someone who does that sort of thing for a living under the guise of free speech. Such commentators are so grotesque and so loathed that for the haters it becomes like passing a car crash, they know what they see will be horrific, it may actually make them physically ill to look but the overwhelming majority will fill compelled to look.
In the media world where everyone has ready access to express themselves, the disgust at what some pundits spew out is too irresistible not to comment on in the public sphere. Thus a cycle of loathing and counter loathing is generated where the beneficiary of the controversy that ensues is the pundit.
It’s like giving in to the dark side. The Limbaughs and O’Reilleys feed off your anger and want you to give into your hate.
For most part it’s harmless and actually helps to get some people’s hearts started in the morning. The individual rantings of these mainly middle aged white guys amount to very little. It only becomes dangerous when their level of discourse becomes the accepted standard in the broader community.
Take Australia’s own Alan Jones for instance. Widely regarded as being one of many instigating factors for the shameful Cronulla riots, Jones is apt at tapping into the racist and xenophobic elements of Sydney society.
Take for instance this next clip where he lashes out at immigration from the “middle east” whatever country that is.
That’s taking the gig to a whole other level.
The there’s the blogosphere. Take a look at any of the world’s major blogs and you’ll see hate and vitriol taken to another level. That’ll be the topic of another article.
Of course another way to become a successful blogger is to blog about in lists eg 10 ways to bake the perfect fruitcake or 15 habits of highly successful scaffolders but that’s another topic altogether.
So please join us next week when the simpleton explores 12 ways to attract the partner of your dreams while baking fruitcake on a scaffold.