Monday, January 10, 2011
If you were to judge which way America leaned politically according to the viewership of cable news and radio, you would assume America was firmly in the hands of conservatives. Yet, elections tend to be close. Congress regularly passes power from one side to the other.
So what is up with those cable/radio numbers?
As I churned over the discussions I had over the past few days, and recalled some recent conversations and incidences, I came up with a theory - People on the Right tend to have more emotional investment in their "celebrities" than do people on the Left. Therefore, they watch and listen more.
Here are some observations (this is still an idea in progress).
Last spring I had a conversation with a friend and at some point Fox News came up. I made some disparaging remark about Fox's quality of news. My friend paused and said, "Ya know... I am kind of insulted by that."
"Why?" I replied.
"Well, I watch Fox News and I like it," he said.
"So how does that translate to my insulting you?" I questioned.
"Well, how would you feel if I trash-talked MSNBC?" he responded.
I shrugged, "I gotta say, I honestly wouldn't care."
I realized in that moment that we didn't just hold different positions, the way in which we held them was completely different.
A similar event happened over the summer. I was with another friend and the discussion drifted to politics. My friend referenced something Hannity had said recently.
I grinned, looked at a passing car, and made some statement about Hannity and the other two telling so many lies over the years that they can no longer differentiate truth.
When I looked back at my friend his face had gone red and all of the muscles in his neck had tightened. It looked like his eyes were about to pop from his head. I recalled what had happened last spring and I realized my pronouncement had been like a slap to him!
My friend was gracious enough to turn the other cheek, and we quickly moved on to other topics.
I have seen this play out in numerous Facebook conversations over the past two years. The largest spikes in harsh rhetoric tended to follow someone making a critical remark about Fox News, Palin, Beck, etc...
As I look back on my own past, back when I was a Dittohead, I had similar reactions. Someone could critique this or that policy.... but if someone put-down Rush? Yeah, I got defensive! I was proud that I had gone to the "Rush to Excellence" tour. There was emotional investment there.
Yet today, when I think about it, there is no "liberal" personality that I am that attached to. If someone critiqued Moore, or Maher, or the President, etc... I may think their critiques are wrong, but I wouldn't be insulted by it. In fact, there are issues that those personalities hold to that I could be equally critical of.
And so, my theory of why the ratings of these shows are so comparatively high. For some reason, many on the Right form a deeper emotional investment into their "celebrities" than those on the Left. Critiquing one of the Right's center-stage personalities is taken as a personal critique. On the Right, there is more of a "team" bonding occurring. Not that there aren't exceptions on both sides, but I think this is generally the case.
What do you think?
** I have to add this note. I was just de-friended by another of my more staunch Right-wing friends on Facebook. This kind of defriending has happened a number of times in the past few years. Though they make Right-wing pronouncements regularly, it would never occur to me to defriend them over it. Yet my often left-leaning views become too much for them to tolerate, and once again I find myself voted off the island. :)
Posted by Andrew at 8:18 PM