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During the peak ratings years of The Jerry Springer Show -- an alleged reality show -- a fight would break out among the guests during almost every episode.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jerry_Springer_Show

It seemed obvious to me that these fights were orchestrated by the producers. What are the odds that a fight would break out during every episode and yet no one would ever get hurt or arrested?

The surprising thing is that everyone I talked to about the show during its glory years believed the fighting was genuine and spontaneous. I found that level of gullibility to be mind boggling.

Likewise, when big name TV magicians perform spectacular tricks on TV, such as making a jet disappear, and the witnesses on the scene act amazed, it's obvious to me that those people are in on the trick, and/or their comments of amazement are taken out of context. The magician's only obligation is to entertain the gullible viewers at home. Paying actors to claim they don't know how the jet disappeared, and filming reactions out of context, is the easiest way to do it.

All of this gets me to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Both of them have been in the news a lot for their outspoken and controversial views. And once again, people don't seem to understand that their jobs are entertainment, nothing more.

I enjoy sampling the content from the far left as well as the far right. When I listen to Limbaugh, I generally have two reactions:
  1. I don't agree with the viewpoint expressed.
  2. This man is an entertainment genius.
Talk show hosts have no legal or ethical obligation to do anything but entertain. And judging by their successes, Limbaugh and Beck are brilliant at their jobs. I find it mind boggling that anyone believes a TV talk host is expressing his own true views.

You could make a case that the things Limbaugh and Beck say influences the gullible masses in ways that are not helpful to society. But that's probably true of every pundit, left or right. It's a price of free speech.

Do you think that Limbaugh and Beck have the same views in private as they spray into the entertainmentsphere?

 
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-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 19, 2009
As for Freedom of Speech, it comes as both right and responsibility. Everyone has (or should have) the right to think what they want and say what they want. But there is a responsibility side of that too. Libel and Slander are illegal because it can hurt people when you tell lies about them. If you frame your statement as "your opinion" then you can have some room to say some pretty off the wall things. But, what gets me, is that many of the things that extremist pundits say are passed off as facts or truth. Go back about 10 years to when people were talking about "truthiness". If you can make it sound true, then a lot of people will believe it is true, even if it is a steaming pile of dog turds. It is far easier, especially when one has the radio pulpit position, to keep telling the same made up "facts" and half-truths and have millions believe it, than it is for the average person without radio access to refute the lies over and over and to get access to the same millions of people. That is an abuse of the Freedom of speech - claiming the right while ignoring the responsibility.
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Screw you. The only responsibility we have under the freedom of speech is to respect other people's speech in all cases. It doesn't matter if people are twisting their opinions into facts! Everybody does that! That's the argumentative process! We don't all agree on the facts, so we MUST live in a marketplace of ideas. Your "responsibility" to the freedom of speech is based on the false idea that you or anyone else can decide what "real" facts are and then turn everyone else into thought criminals. You orwellian grhhhhh OMG!

And you know what, with all the communication and market of ideas that we have today, all opinions, no matter how crazy or true get out to "the public." It's not like we're all in a box being told one set of ideas. You want to know real truth, TALK TO THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU. You can all share your versions of reality and come to a point of compromise. A lot of dumb things will be said, and a lot of bad ideas will be discussed, but more often than not, even the silent majority resists stupidity and untruth. Go worship your government, truth providing babysitter. Maybe it'll protect you from those evil "other ideas."
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 19, 2009
As for Freedom of Speech, it comes as both right and responsibility. Everyone has (or should have) the right to think what they want and say what they want. But there is a responsibility side of that too. Libel and Slander are illegal because it can hurt people when you tell lies about them. If you frame your statement as "your opinion" then you can have some room to say some pretty off the wall things. But, what gets me, is that many of the things that extremist pundits say are passed off as facts or truth. Go back about 10 years to when people were talking about "truthiness". If you can make it sound true, then a lot of people will believe it is true, even if it is a steaming pile of dog turds. It is far easier, especially when one has the radio pulpit position, to keep telling the same made up "facts" and half-truths and have millions believe it, than it is for the average person without radio access to refute the lies over and over and to get access to the same millions of people. That is an abuse of the Freedom of speech - claiming the right while ignoring the responsibility.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Screw you. The only responsibility we have under the freedom of speech is to respect other people's speech in all cases. It doesn't matter if people are twisting their opinions into facts! Everybody does that! That's the argumentative process! We don't all agree on the facts, so we MUST live in a marketplace of ideas. Your "responsibility" to the freedom of speech is based on the false idea that you or anyone else can decide what "real" facts are and then turn everyone else into thought criminals. You orwellian grhhhhh OMG!

And you know what, with all the communication and market of ideas that we have today, all opinions, no matter how crazy or true get out to "the public." It's not like we're all in a box being told one set of ideas. You want to know real truth, TALK TO THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU. You can all share your versions of reality and come to a point of compromise. A lot of dumb things will be said, and a lot of bad ideas will be discussed, but more often than not, even the silent majority resists stupidity and untruth. Go worship your government, truth providing babysitter. Maybe it'll protect you from those evil "other ideas."
 
 
Oct 18, 2009
I've been thinking about this a lot, especially since Stephen Colbert has been in the spotlight. It's certainly plausible that they are acting, and these characters are just personas. I'm just not sure one could live their life saying all of these things without starting to believe it.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2009
Here in the frozen North, we have a hockey commentator named Don Cherry. He's nowhere near as violence-loving, Euro-style-hating, redneck, and bombastic in person, but he's made a fortune out of being a caricature of himself.
Some people hate him for his views, but the majority recognize his performance for what it is.

You have to admire someone who can turn a caricature into such a lucrative career...right, Scott?
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 16, 2009
As for Freedom of Speech, it comes as both right and responsibility. Everyone has (or should have) the right to think what they want and say what they want. But there is a responsibility side of that too. Libel and Slander are illegal because it can hurt people when you tell lies about them. If you frame your statement as "your opinion" then you can have some room to say some pretty off the wall things. But, what gets me, is that many of the things that extremist pundits say are passed off as facts or truth. Go back about 10 years to when people were talking about "truthiness". If you can make it sound true, then a lot of people will believe it is true, even if it is a steaming pile of dog turds. It is far easier, especially when one has the radio pulpit position, to keep telling the same made up "facts" and half-truths and have millions believe it, than it is for the average person without radio access to refute the lies over and over and to get access to the same millions of people. That is an abuse of the Freedom of speech - claiming the right while ignoring the responsibility.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 16, 2009
Scott,

You already know the answer to this question. In your post "Hypnosis for Peace" on Sept 24th, you wrote about Ahmadinejad:

"In today's post we won't discuss whether he meant any of those things or he's really Hitler in a leisure suit. What fascinates me is the psychology of the situation. Researchers know that when someone commits to a position publicly, and argues it in his own words, even if he is lying, it causes his brain to rewire until he starts believing his lies. In other words, if Ahmadinejad was 100% lying about his desire for world peace at the beginning of his speech, the science says he was maybe only 99% lying by the end of it, with the remaining 1% thinking that this peace concept is a good thing."

So yes, whether or not Limbaugh and Beck (and Hannity and Coulter and VanSustern and ...) believed the stuff they spew back when they started, they almost certainly believe it now. And, unfortunately, the louder and longer they say it, the more other people begin to believe it too. Just amazing to me is the cognitive disconnect that happens in people I consider to be otherwise pretty intelligent. One person I know said the following 2 sentences within 60 seconds of each other: "What ever happened to civil discourse and the ability to just talk to each other calmly?" "Glenn Beck is coming?! I love him! Can we still get tickets?!?!" I had to grab my head to keep it from spinning off my neck and up into the sky...
 
 
Oct 16, 2009
Beck and Limbaugh are actually flaming liberals who are just itching to come out of the closet. They both passionately believe that universal health care is a commendable goal and that all our citizens are worth caring for. They both like to unwind after a long week of skullduggery by watching Sean Penn movies with the lights off and the doors locked.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 16, 2009
Sorry if this was said before in the posts -- I'm on break and don't have time to read them all -- but Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Mother Night, would pertain to this. An American writer living in Germany at the start of World War Two is recruited by US Intelligence to pass coded information through his supposedly pro-Nazi radio broadcasts. He does such a creative job that the messages get through, but as a side affect the patriotism of many Germans is bolstered to continue the war.

Personally, I think these pundits go home each day after a good rant in the studio, drink fine wine, listen to Bach, and stroke a fluffy cat to unwind from all that nonsense -- and if a pang of conscience comes about they open their financial statements and giggle.
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
THERE IS NOBODY ON THE NON RIGHT LIKE RUSH OR BECK. IF YOU KNOW ONE TELL US WHO?
"FOX understands that its viewers use the FOX News Channel the way a drunk uses a lamppost: more for support than illumination. And so FOX of­fers more affirmation than information. The But FOX News...is a twenty-four-hour-a-day in-kind contribution to the conservative movement. It's run by Roger Ailes, .... Before he became a millionaire media big shot, Roger was a Republican political consultant...Ailes was the media consultant for Presi­dent George H. W. Bush. And now he has his own news network. .... And yet Rupert Murdoch has given control of a news network to a right-wing political consultant, and no one says boo. That's because the right has been working the refs for decades....
the FOX News Channel has achieved dramatic ratings success. It has also been plagued by charges of right-wing bias. As David Brock copiously documents in his book The Republican Noise Machine, former FOX news staffers have been candid and specific about alle­gations of a right-wing slant. A number of FOX staffers complained to the Columbia Journalism Review of "management sticking their fingers in the writing and editing of stories to cook the facts to make a story more palatable to right-wing tastes
Lest you think these are one-off, isolated examples, Reina revealed the FOX method of controlling the slant of the news: .. executives e-mail a memo telling their producers and reporters, in Reina's words, "what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how thev should be covered. . . . The Memo was born with the [George W] Bush Ac-ministration, early in 2001, and, intentionally or not, has ensured that the administration's point of view consistently comes across on FNC
While FOX News has undeniably succeeded at winning ratings, it has been less successful in actually informing its viewers. In October 2003 the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland (on whose board of advisers sit John Ashcroft's pollster, Fred Steeper, and former Michigan Republican congressman Bill Frenzel) released a study on public misperceptions of the war in Iraq. It found that FOX News viewers were the least-informed, or rather, the worst-informed, of any media consumers. "Those who receive most of their news from FOX News," the study found, "are more likely than average to have misperceptions" about the war in Iraq. The study identified three "misperceptions," a polite term for falsehoods: first, that evidence has been found linking al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq; second, that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq; and third, that world public opinion supported the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. "FOX News watchers," the study found, "were most likely to hold misper­ceptions—and were more than twice as likely as [viewers of] the next nearest network to hold all three misperceptions."39
Fully 80 percent of FOX viewers believed one of those whoppers. Only 55 percent of CNN viewers did, and just 23 percent of National Public Radio listeners and Public Broadcasting System viewers did. This is not merely a partisan thing, it's a FOX thing."
"SOUND AND FURY" ERIC ALTERMAN
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
IN THE WORDS OF A MASTER, ITS BEEN SAID THEY WERE FIRST WITH TV. HE BELIVED THE LIES WOULD WORK EVEN BETTER ON TV. The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, because the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad.

The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them more easy victims of a big lie than a small one, because they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.
Such a form of lying would never enter their heads. They would never credit others with the possibility of such great impudence as the complete reversal of facts. Even explanations would long leave them in doubt and hesitation, and any trifling reason would dispose them to accept a thing as true.
Something therefore always remains and sticks from the most imprudent of lies, a fact which all bodies and individuals concerned in the art of lying in this world know only too well, and therefore they stop at nothing to achieve this end.
~ Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
jonmalone:
You see, before we begin the debate, we must label you. I learned that from Sean Hannity!

I'm sure what you meant was that he is "The Worst Person In The World."
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
"1. I don't agree with the viewpoint expressed.
2. This man is an entertainment genius"

Scott, that makes you a Pinko Commie Liberal.

You see, before we begin the debate, we must label you. I learned that from Sean Hannity!
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
Although it never occurred to me that the likes of Limbaugh and Beck might not believe what they say, it seems weird to me that it isn't at least somewhat similar to what they believe. Only because I don't see what they do as having the level of self awareness that Colbert has, for example. While they may choose their more controversial opinions because they get better ratings, and they may hyperbolize and exaggerate to create controversial opionons, I have trouble believing there is a huge gap between what Limbaugh says on TV and what he says off the air.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
Yes, I think they believe what they say, and they present it in an entertaining way. And while you may disagree with their opinions, they present a lot of facts, as well, for which I rarely hear counterevidence from the left.
Since the facts are generally not refuted, it makes it kind of difficult to argue with their opinions........
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
I HATE them...HATE HATE HATE them and wish they would DIE PAINFULL deaths for what they force audiences to endure...they are the SCUM of the EARTH!!! Frickin' magicians!
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
Remember the post about ranting for world peace? You theorized that if evil dictators were convinced to talk about the values of love and diplomacy every so often, even though they would be laughing on the inside, they might begin to believe in what they were saying.

I think that the same goes for Rush and Glenn. They probably started their programs only as entertainers, not agreeing even half of what they were saying. But after hundreds of radio talks, live broadcasts, and interviews, they actually begin to believe all that junk, which makes them more willing to entertain in a more unplanned manner (inviting over people with opposing views to humiliate them, taking phone calls that aren't made by someone backstage, etc.).
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
"The man is a racist, sexist, drug addicted liar who is constantly unable to back up his "facts" when requested to. He disallows people with opposing viewpoints to speak on his show because he is so often shown to be making crap off the top of his head. The reason his views don't change with the times to get more ratings is that his base of listeners views don't change with the times. Calling him an intelligent entertainer is accurate and the best he deserves."


Actually, Rush often allows people on his show with differing viewpoints. I've never understood that criticism. Is Rush just supposed to argue with people for 3 hours? Of course he is going to spend most of his time commenting on articles, taking phone calls that push the conversation along (and support Rush's viewpoint of course, but a left wing anchor will do the same thing), and monologuing. It's his show. Non political talk show hosts hang up on people all of the time for any reason. As it should be. A radio show is not a debate environment, and Rush's show is MEANT to be preaching to the choir while making small conversions every now and then. It's not information or entertainment, it's infotainment. Making crap up off the top of his head? I'm sorry, but it's his show, and if you were expected to talk for hours a week about your views, you'll probably say a few dumb things too. It just slips out. A lot o the time, the hosts are really thinking out loud rather than giving a rallying cry to arms.
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
To the producers certainly it's the entertainment sphere, the viewership sphere, but to the guy doing all the talking that represents the powersphere. If you got him to be honest in private, maybe Beck would acknowledge being wild and hyperbolic, but those views further a political agenda and if you are right, Scott, they also amount to abuse of his freedom of speech, intentional misdirection on a current affairs schedule. Isn't that more serious than staging a fight on a chat show, or are all Beck's viewers discerning and/or ineffectual?
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
"... What's next ... an equal number of "The View" conservative panelists to routinely issue verbal beat-downs on liberal guests?

Worthy of censorial filtering into near illegibility

??
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
Hey Scott ...

I'm been a 'Maze Rat' for 40 years. How is it you never had to move your cubicle? The average stay in one cubicle is 8-9 months. Seems the managment team always has some reason to move people around. Dilbert never has moved. Or raided another cube for desired equipment/supplies. Or had to share!
 
 
 
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