These things are definitely ginned up in order to get viewers and clicks. I am pretty certain that the people on Fox News and similar sites (even the most dimwitted) know that these things are silly even as they feign outrage over these pseudo-controversies. But I wonder about their target audience of older, white, right-wing viewers. Do they view these things as serious issues and get angry or do they see them as merely entertaining? I am sure that some do get genuinely fired up but I cannot imagine that it can be a large number. Maybe there is an unspoken agreement in which the people in the media pretend to be outraged and their audience pretends to be angry. Or maybe I am just naive in thinking that adults can’t surely care that much about such things.
Stephen Colbert had a very thoughtful segment on the Dr. Seuss books faux-controversy and gives some children’s books recommendations of his own.