Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah Sobieraj ask if Americans are addicted to outrage.
Perhaps they are but not just them…look at the “outrage” that our media cultivates.
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,Â The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility, the aggregate daily audience for such content is roughly 47 million people. In a cluttered media landscape where advertisers have a sea of choices, anxious television and radio producers hungry for revenue have sought new ways to break through the clutterâto stop the channel surfers as they peruse other optionsâand reach audiences. And the popular agent provocateurs of political talk media not only do the jobâthey also do it relatively cheaply. (Consider that CNNâs administrative expenses make up aboutÂ twice as muchÂ of its budget share as at Fox or MSNBC.) As a result, America has developed a robust and successful Outrage Industry that makes money from calling political figures idiots, or even Nazis.
Sounds familiar. As I said, not just America. Â Read more »