The media tends to focus on controversies, which is fair enough. After all, ‘news’ is what is out of the ordinary. What is annoying is when they lazily treat some idiotic statements by a few people as representing sentiments more widespread than they actually are. This is even more irritating when the people making the statements are known publicity hounds who clearly make absurd statements hoping that they will garner some headlines.
Take this recent headline from an Associated Press story titled Big Bird backlash: Vax lands even Muppet in political flap about the beloved Sesame Street character saying that he got the vaccine that is now given to children.
The word ‘backlash’ suggests widespread reaction. What is the evidence of it? Just senator Ted Cruz along with an obscure Fox News contributor describing it as ‘government propaganda’ and ‘brainwashing’ and ‘twisted’.
There are some politicians who simply crave to be in the headlines: Cruz, Marjorie-Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert to name just a few. They will respond with something that is inflammatory to anything has the slightest chance of igniting passion among the loonies of the right. If it does, they pat themselves on the back for succeeding. If it doesn’t, there is always something new that will come along the next day.
The publicity hound monster is insatiable and one has to stop feeding it. But the 24/7 news cycle is like these publicity hounds in that it also craves attention and needs content that will provide it. So we have a symbiotic relationship between attention-seekers on both sides.