In politics, you don't need to treat everyone with decency and humanity, just 51% of the crowd. Actually, given that half or less than half of all people don't vote, the percentage of people who require basic decency and indulgence is probably even lower than that, maybe 20-25% of the population. There's plenty of power and money to be won by skillfully stimulating public anger against some or all of the rest, and there are few rewards for restraint.
In the media, the situation is even worse. You can make vast fortunes riling up mobs. And because it's a fiercely competitive market, there's an obvious and immediate benefit to using superheated rhetoric -- it's more entertaining, gains more attention, and definitely gets more viewers and listeners and, er, readers.
And not only is there no incentive for restraint, there's actually a huge disincentive for restraint, because for many of us in the punditry world, our livelihoods depend upon cultivating audiences who come to expect a certain emotional payoff for tuning in. MORE...
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Taibbi: "The Giffords Tragedy: Is the Media Partly at Fault?"