Are Americans addicted to outrage?

Are Americans addicted to outrage?

In December, MSNBC’s Martin Bashir made headlines for calling Sarah Palin a “world-class idiot” and suggesting that someone defecate in her mouth. Rush Limbaugh stirred the pot a few weeks earlier when he decided to take on the pope, calling the Holy Father a Marxist and then, some days later, claiming, “the left’s sacrament is abortion.” Just this past Sunday, a panel of comedians on Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC drew criticism for mocking a photo of Mitt Romney’s family, including his adopted African-American grandchild, with one of Harris-Perry’s guests singing, “one of these things is not like the other.” Incendiary comments by both provocative pundits and charismatic hosts are now commonplace. On cable news networks, talk radio and in the political blogosphere there is a constant stream of name-calling, belittling, character assassination and falsehoods.

Americans tell pollsters they dislike this kind of talk and believe it degrades our political system. But the audience data tell a different story: In fact, Americans find this type of political commentary quite compelling. By our calculation, part of an analysis we did for our new book, The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility, the aggregate daily audience for such content is roughly 47 million people.

Continue reading →


Commenting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse. Read more.

You may use HTML in your comments. Feel free to review the full list of allowed HTML here.

Facebook Comments

Disqus Comments