Using sex to sell news

Sex sells. That is something that the advertising agencies discovered a long time ago. So it should not be surprising that TV channels should want to use sex to gain audiences, especially during the periods when ratings are being calculated. But at the same time, news stations tend to have older viewers who, at least on the surface, like to think of themselves as upholders of old-fashioned morality. Thus has emerged one of the most obvious media tricks to have your cake and eat it, and that is to have an ‘in-depth’ news story closely examining some aspect of sex while deploring it.

The Daily Show looks at how Fox News used this tried and true technique, this time focusing on what happens during college spring break.

(This clip aired on April 9, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. Matt G says

    Where were the parents! Especially nauseating was the gender double standard: I would NEVER let my daughter go (you own her?), but I’ll give my son money to go and have a good time.

  2. jamessweet says

    I am currently reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Urusula LeGuin, and there was a line that I really appreciated (and unfortunately I don’t have the book in front of me, so this is merely my best recollection):

    It is impossible to impose vulgarity without becoming vulgar.

  3. doublereed says

    I love how they were waxing nostalgic of when they were kids doing the same thing. Pure, unadulterated ephebiphobia. I imagine it works well with their geriatic audience.

  4. moarscienceplz says

    So, one of the big raisons d’etre of Faux News is that people should be free to make their own life choices, right? But this almost seems like Faux News is telling these college students and their parents how they should be living their lives. That can’t be right, can it?
    I’m so confused!

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