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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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Oct 15, 2009
My parents listen to a lot of Rush Limbaugh. It always seemed pretty clear to me that the man was a conservative of some degree [for real] but said tons of stuff that was meant to stir people up, rather than express factual issues or express his actual beliefs. I found it shocking at first, then hilarious for a short while, and then lumped him with all of the other low-grade entertainers who sell shock because they have little raw talent. I have no doubt that he's an intelligent person, though.
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
I would say that they generally do believe what they say. Not just because they have talked themselves into it, as others have said, but because of their backgrounds and influences during their lives. Sometimes their beliefs seem not to be founded on a very strong philosophical base, so I suspect that although they are on the right side of the argument, they may secretly believe that left vs. right doesn't matter all that much, that it is maybe only slightly more important than picking a football team to root for. They seem to really enjoy scoring points against the other "team", but at the end of the day, they are probably partaking in cigars and cognacs with the opposition. I've heard many better arguments for the positions these entertainers take, but when it gets more serious, of course the fun goes away, along with the millions of listeners.
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
The relatively high number of comments (around 100) on this blog post appears to support the fact that including conservative debaters can increase media ratings. Could the public actually be interested in conservative opinions and perspectives?

What’s next … an equal number of “The View” conservative panelists to routinely issue verbal beat-downs on liberal guests

??
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
I think when you start down this road of screaming emotionally about something, you begin to believe it, even if in your soul you know it's partly entertainment. I think they believe they are just exaggerating a bit.

What a horrible way to live.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
You've gotten to the "yelling 'FIRE' in a crowded theater" argument.

Paying the actors to fight, paying them to pretend they didn't see a jet rolling across the tarmac, paying them to be melodramatic on a small Pacific island... those are all people who signed up for the money.

Other comments already pointed out the hypnotic effect of repetition -- on both the speakers and the listeners. But, well, they are also being paid to advertise. It would be more appropriate to call them paid advertisers who do their jobs VERY WELL than to call them "entertainers."

To the extent that they have encouraged, mentioned, or otherwise suggested that violence be committed against the president they have gone past the "yelling FIRE in a crowded theater" crime.
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
On an unrelated note, I have something to say to all of the liberals, conservatives, and leftists in the world.

You're all wrong and delusional.

Conservatives, you believe in using old values that are obsolete, you value superstition over reason, and you prefer to use an obsolete sociological structure that has been proven not to work.

Liberals, you believe that people should just be left alone, should have unlimited individual freedom, laissez-faire economics, and that people can be trusted with their own survival. Laissez-faire economics have caused all kinds of issues, such as the great depression, and should be avoided. Bush won the popular vote the second time, so based upon that evidence, do you really think that people can be trusted with their own survival or should have unlimited individual freedom?

Leftists, the only line between you and socialists is that you tend to have a better grasp of technology. Needless to say, your political views are wrong, as that philosophy was used in the early days of the Plymouth colony, communist Russia, and in all countries with nationalized oil production, and they were all failures.

In summary all of you are incorrect and/or delusional. Please do not vote!

This will get horrible votes because noone wants to be told that they are wrong, and the introduction of new facts never changes people's personal beliefes
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
I think that they do belive those things because of the "money brainwashing effect." Whenever you give certain people an economic incentive to act like they belive certain things, they eventualy belive them for real. This has been proven to work on democrats. Limbaugh has an economic incentive to act like he belives in all the garbage that he says. But now that he has been acting like this for so long, he probably belives it for real. Thus the economic incentive has brainwashed him into beliving what he says.
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
By and large, the big name pundits almost certainly believe in the things they say. Especially those who run their show as an extended monologue. I have heard it said that talk show guests, i.e. roundtable pundits and the like, are vetted to make sure they will be expressing the opinions the producers want to hear, which makes some sense since those roundtables are designed to have people from multiple sides of the issue expressing views. Roe Conn of Chicago radio described and instance in which he was not allowed to participate in the roundtable because he refused to take up an opinion that he did not believe in just to fill that gap in the debate.

Your point of "But that's probably true of every pundit, left or right. It's a price of free speech." is the correct one though, Limbaugh himself often suggests that he shouldn't need to provide "equal time" to the opposing view since he is equal time against the pundits of the legacy media who are predominantly left and predominantly do not have firestorms of controversy over the things they say on air.

Of course that leaves aside satire, sometime Limbaugh and others such as Ann Coulter do a great deal of, in which they make exaggerated statements in order to help prove a point and/or piss off media people of the opposing view. Their own audience with the statements in full context generally understand the difference, while people of the opposing view with the statements quoted out of context do not, or pretend not to for the sake of stirring up controversy.
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
I find it interesting that you guys don't think people can keep up an act, when in reality we all know that some people can and do.

Jerry Springer was Scott's example: he acted surprised each and every day for each and every guest who admitted to some transgression or other, never mind that he knew what the show was about beforehand. He did this for years and years and never deviated.

Soap Opera stars play the same character every day for years, never falling out of character, never dropping into their own real personality. But watch an interview with one and you'll easily see they are generally quite different from the people they play.

My brother was in radio for years. Yes, it's stream of consciousness...to a point. But the reality is that there is someone who owns that radio station. And if they're conservative, you'd better be a conservative on the show if you want to keep your job. And yes, it can be done and is done.

The fact that many of you feel you couldn't do it might mean (a) you perhaps place a higher value on being genuine than entertainers do, and/or (b) you're not good actors. That doesn't make you bad people (perhaps quite the opposite). The reality is that the majority of the people on this blog are cube dwellers, not entertainers. You're judging from your own base, not from a base of comparison.

When you can explain to me how Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a skirt chasing, chest groping womanizer with a steroid habit to a block buster actor to the Governer of California WITHOUT playing a part to get there (and stay there), then I'll believe all these pundits really believe a high proportion of what they say.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
There seem to be very few genuine conservatices in the USA, and even fewer who listen / watch ranting clowns like Beck or Limbaugh.

There are, however, a large number of wilfully ignorant, intellectually incurious nationalist extremists. Thesse people would be harmless apart from the fact that they are allowed to vote (ignorance, probably incorrectly, not being a barrier to the democratic process).
Combined with the fact that the US has the worlds largest military, and the worlds largest outstanding amount of debt (public and private), both under the control of a government voted in by said jingoistic ignoramuses, causes a problem for just about everyone. Globally.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2009
I'm sure somebody pointed this out (too many comments to read them all), but by your own argument: If these guys keep repeating this stuff often enough, they will eventually start to believe it. That said, I agree that people are too gullible when they believe this stuff is real and not just entertainment.
 
 
Oct 15, 2009
I would refer you to an episode of The Boondocks called "The S-Word" where it is revealed that Ann Coulter acts the way she does to "get some of that Redneck money", because a "b**** got books to sell".

Actually, I'm sure it's not just entertainers, but politicians don't believe half of the things they profess. Every one of them has a 'book' to sell.
 
 
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 14, 2009
It's all entertainment Even our beloved "Dilbert" is entertainment. I would imagine Scott is making a pretty comfortable living at it too.

I consider other things entertainment as well. Things such as:

1. Congress. Very laughable. You have to ask yourself if these people act the same way in real life.

2. TV Evangelists. You want to talk hypocrisy?! Here's a gaggle of thieves laughing all the way to the bank. And I seriously doubt any of them follow a single word of the crap they spew on others.

3. THE MEDIA. Yep. CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, etc. It's all entertainment. Just read the headlines. Do you really care about some guy in the Congo getting eaten by a crocodile? Or some idiot in the 3rd World getting tossed in jail for sheep abuse? I read a news snippet recently that stated "75 Children die of Swine Flu!" Ohhhkay, it's bad that happened, but how many died of REGULAR FLU?!!! Hmmmmm...Nope, news like that doesn't grab headlines and doesn't sell ads.

4. Rush, Glenn, Savage, O'Reilly, Buchanan, etc. They spill it from the Right and make money doing it. People buy it, and that's all that counts.

5. Hollywood A-listers. I don't know exactly who represents the Left nowadays, so I'll just lump all of the singers, models, actors, etc, under "Hollywood A-Listers". Most of them are idiots anyway. Still, their antics and stupid uneducated speeches do make money, so they must be doing something right.

That's what it all comes down to: money. It's all about who can act the most stupid, most vile, most shocking, most liberal, most conservative, in an effort to sell ads. You won't attract Madison Avenue with stories of nuns handing out bread in Calcutta. Now, get a photo of some stupid Hollywood Starlet throwing up on her shoes, and you can name your price.

God, I fear for our country.....

 
 
Oct 14, 2009
Based upon your brain washing arguments from the past, I would have to say that they probably do now, even if they didn't beforehand.
 
 
Oct 14, 2009
I also listen to left and right daily on my two hour commute, and I also appreciate entertainers. The "it's just entertainment" line whenever they go too far is a cop out.
Do you have friends who are great fun to hang out with, then they get a beer or three in them and they start making racist comments? Do you say, "aw its just the beer", or do you go "oh that sucks. I knew he was conservative, but I didn't know he was racist". At that point, I cannot hang with them anymore. It crosses a line for me.
Take the entertainment right to the limit, if you want, but if you go too far, its on you. I think Rush is a brilliant entertainer, and I think he is also a racist. I cannot condone or support that. I am a social liberal and fiscal conservative and I have many libertarian and die-hard Republican friends. But none of them are racists.
 
 
Oct 14, 2009
I have never listened to Glen Beck, but do listen to Rush. I have to think that Rush does believe what he says. My reason for thinking this is: he is on the air for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. If he didn't really believe what he said, then he'd get caught up in his own lies/inconsistencies. During the last few years of Bush, I stopped listening to Rush because I didn't agree with him. Rush would sit and defend the likes of Rove and Scooter Libby, and I couldn't listen to it. But now, I find myself agreeing with him almost always. When Obama got his Nobel prize, I tuned in to Rush just to hear his take. His take was identical to mine. If Rush didn't truly believe this, and truly believed Obama deserved the peace prize... well, then Rush must be a better entertainer than I thought.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 14, 2009
Do Rush Limbaugh and Ed Schultz both believe what they say? I'd have to guess so. However as a much earlier commenter pointed out, YOU try talking to yourself while being recorded for five plus hours a day and not say something that will make you seem like a complete Nazi/Communist/Fascist/Kitten-Stomper.
What talk radio personalities do seems a lot like stream-of-consciousness; sometimes you just say things as they pop into your head and see where they go. Again, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you've ever looked at a homeless man, a defendant on TV, or someone at the mall, and had an unkind thought that would be absolutely appalling if it were uttered. I know I have, and I've been ashamed of myself many times for it.
As for those people who find that they must preface any discussion of (say) Limbaugh by saying "he is of course horrible" remind me a lot of "some of my best friends are jews" style disclaimers. And, the people who say "he is of course horrible" and then admit that they have never listened to him speak for more than a few minutes are nothing short of intellectual con-men. Listen to Limbaugh or Schultz for 50 hours and I defy an honest person not to agree with the thrust of each's arguments more often or not.
 
 
Oct 14, 2009
I believe the talk show hosts have a basic philosophy that guides their opinions and helps them maintain consistency.

For example, talk shows like Boortz promote individual responsibility rather than relying on government. Boortz, a top 10 radio talk show host, sticks very closely to a near Libertarian philosophy and I marvel at his consistency thereby convining me that he truly believes what he says. He also puts out a warning on his show periodically stating that you should NOT believe anything you hear on his program unless you already know it to be true unless you have taken the time to research it yourself so he believes in his listeners ability to spot his BS.

The Savage Nation is the talk show I have a hard time characterizing. Savage has a genuine PHD from Berkeley and is highly educated. Boortz has a law degree. Both had other professions outside talk radio long before they became popular on the radio. Savage has an interesting mix of brilliant insight and old fashion story telling and I just cannot peg his underlying philosophy.

 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 14, 2009
Smith25, it's ok. I bet Scott enjoys reading his comments lol.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 14, 2009
Man, shut up Phantom II. Jeez. You are, without a doubt, the most consistently obnoxious poster on this website or any other that I regularly visit.

You're always hostile to the host regardless of what he says, you misinterpret, you throw out meaningless buzz words like elitist, you are clearly brainwashed by the media induced left-right divide that screws this country over constantly, and your posts are long as #%$@.

I live in Canada and I vote conservative. I know what actually being a conservative means.

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.

So please Phantom II. Shut up and quit pissing me off...
 
 
 
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