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Fear and anger drive media messaging

Fear and anger drive media messaging

Bryan Hyde
August 29, 2022
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August 29, 2022

Does the media need us to be angry or afraid in order to do its job?

Before answering that question, take a look at this headline from the Idaho Press: 

Far-right group endorses Boise School Board candidates, including one incumbent, who declines to disavow endorsement…”

It’s a headline that reads like a manifesto.

The story perpetuates the notion that a dangerous far-right conspiracy threatens the established order. It also targets a specific candidate with the fallacy of guilt by association for not distancing himself from a group of concerned citizens.

The question that should be on the mind of any thinking individual is whether or not either of these narratives are based in reality.

Are the Idaho Liberty Dogs a dangerous group just because they’ve been labeled as a “far-right extremist” organization? Objectives like “standing up for constitutional rights and freedoms” and “preserving conservative values” in response to “an increase in Marxism across our nation” don’t seem especially subversive —except perhaps to some members of the legacy media who have assumed the role of ideological enforcers that must keep the rest of us in line.

The Idaho Liberty Dogs are accused of wanting to ban books and intimidate elected officials who don’t toe their ideological line. But where is the proof of this? 

We’re given plenty of accusations of “extremist” inclinations without much of anything to quantify such claims. Of course, the same smears are directed at anyone who challenges the orthodoxy of the ruling class.

The only thing we can know for certain is that the reporter appears to have beef with the Idaho Liberty Dogs. And that beef is being parlayed into directing the public into voting for a candidate that is an ideological fellow traveler.

The article gives plenty of recognition to the young Boise high school student running for the school board seat currently occupied by Steve Schmidt, who has refused to renounce the endorsement of the Idaho Liberty Dogs. 

This young man dutifully repeats the same nebulous media talking points about “bullies” and “extremist groups in our community” without providing specific proof of his accusations. He calls upon Schmidt to disavow the endorsement to stop advancement of the group’s “hateful agenda.”

Schmidt responded by pointing out that he has received endorsements from people on all sides, including “Idaho Liberty Dogs, Democrats, and the Boise Education Association”. He promises to continue to represent “all parents” including those with differing views.

The article’s breathless accusations of extremism aimed at concerned citizens, combined with its fawning coverage of a budding young politician, certainly gives the impression of an agenda at play.

There’s no shortage of anger and frustration in society today but is our mainstream media simply reporting on it or creating and fomenting it? Daniel Lattier makes a strong case that the news media needs to keep us angry in order to survive.

Headlines that elicit fear and anger are also likely to get readers to click on the links. This rage profiteering drives advertising revenues that are based on the number of clicks a particular story gets. The more clicks, the greater the revenues.

To be fair, there is no shortage of questionable and distorted information available online. The idea that the public is being misled only by those groups or websites which question the official narrative is as hysterical as it is wrong.

None of us should be dependent upon others to tell us what is to be accepted and what is not. 

That is the personal responsibility of every man and woman who chooses to take ownership of his or her worldview.    

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