Overreacting to publicity hounds

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.


  1. garnetstar says

    I’ve also given up reading about what the outrage-hunters do, or even allowing headlines about their antics to penetrate my consciousness.

    I suppose that such extreme nonsense must be reported, to let their constituent know how their elected representatives behave. And, perhaps, to warn everyone else not to take anything they say, on any serious subject, seriously.

    However, I did raise an eyebrow on Paul Gozar’s latest publicity stunt, his death threat to AOC and Biden. Really, some action should be taken by the House. And, of course, he’ll welcome it if they do, more publicity! They took away Green’s committees, it’s the least they could do to this one.

  2. John Morales says

    It’s a well-known technique mainstream media enterprises use to manipulate public perception by creating a narrative. They’ll often follow up by providing quotations from readers (or viewers) to that effect without providing contrary quotations, to create the impression of widespread presence.

    (It was and remains widely used in the UK regarding Brexit)

  3. brucegee1962 says

    But Cruz is getting downright terrifying. He’s as self-serving as Trump, but with a few actual brains. You’ve heard that he is now flirting with secession:
    I think the bit about Joe Rogan was just to give his audience raptures while being to claim to everyone else that he was “just kidding.” But secessionist talk seems to be growing on the right, and that’s the one thing that would give the boogaloo bois their longed-for civil war.
    I actually woke up last night at 3:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep, worrying about this. The fact that the only thing standing between me and a bloody civil war is the Texas state legislature acting rationally is somewhat terrifying. Trump with his “big lie” is actively trying to destroy the country, but he only needs a few more folks like Cruz and he might actually manage to accomplish it.

  4. garnetstar says

    brucemcgee @4, I read that too. But, I don’t think that secessions will happen, as it isn’t feasible.

    A state trying to get a military together, to get enough personnel. To afford military hardware (which is never on sale at Walmart on Black Friday), to set up customs and passport control on their borders, to protect their airspace, to get along without the federal funds that they receive (and these states are mostly net “takers” from the federal monies). Trying to sign trade treaties with every other country in the world! It isn’t feasible. Cruz claims that they’ll “keep” the military bases and oil in TX: no. The federal will take their military: they have the power to do that, and the state doesn’t. And, oil companies will stay or go depending on their own interests.

    Not to say, though, that some people may not go out into some unchained fantasy and *try* some kind of succession, before it fails ignominiously.

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