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Culture of Outrage

Not Worked Up: My Calm Response to the Culture of Outrage

Oh, Keith Olbermann. I think you're pretty smart. I do. I just have one tiny piece of hopefully constructive criticism. Your Special Comment segment, especially the one last night — well, you're becoming like too oft-prescribed antibiotics: ever-increasingly ineffective, while simultaneously making your opponents stronger.

I know that you feel strongly about a lot of things. But I'm beginning to think you can't possibly feel that outraged every single day. Your speeches while fairly well-reasoned, but delivered in your all CAPS LOCK style, are numbing. And it's not just you. Just in the past week or so, Obama's aide resigned over using the word "monster," and Geraldine Ferraro resigned over (arguably, allegedly, in my opinion) critical comments about her opinion of the nature of the media in this election. Have we come to the point where an apology, or reasoned discussion just isn't enough? Do we need blood in every battle? To make the Nancy Grace connection,


While I do think there is a lot in this world to feel strongly about, I think that this fever pitch of reaction to every little thing is a distraction, focusing on the froth of response rather than the facts of the case. We get swept up in the Nancy Grace-ification, in essence responding to her reaction rather than reason. We've built a whole cast of characters around this appetite: Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, anything on Fox News, the Drudge Report, to name but a few.

Are we so inured, so desensitized by the sheer force of the tidal wave of information, that it requires an ever increasing level of in-your-face, shocking, fist-pounding, outrage to snatch out attention? Are we addicted to outrage, this junk food of opinions? Perhaps if we were given quiet space, a moment to consider how we feel about the facts presented, we'd find ourselves with an opinion, maybe outrage of our own — without having to co-opt that which is created to sell the ads. I'd love to have a calm discussion about what you think.


Join The Conversation
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
AHHHHHHHH!! MY EYES THEY BURN! A giant photo of the angry one! Oh Nancy Grace please don't use your bouffant of righteous justice to poke out my eyes! Think about your children Nancy. THE CHILDREN!
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Pretty much all of the overworked pundits on the news channels give me a headache. Doesn't matter what end of the political spectrum they come from, the shrillness is deafening. In the end, while some of the screaming might be effective, much of it is too emotional to be particularly valuable in the national debate, I think. Just like most corporate media, it's aimed at provoking people's emotions, not their intellects. And I'm with Jillness: Nancy Grace is a terrifying, terrifying creature.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Nancy Grace scares me. If someone is accused of a crime, she immediately starts prosecuting them on her show, even with little factual evidence.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Lots of good points here, Citizen! I agree, I am tired of the angry bloviating on TV. But in Keith's defense, I think he sticks to facts — people lying, people saying racist remarks, etc. Still, it would be nice to be able to see nuanced, fact-driven coverage on TV. Sadly, I think that's a pipe dream.
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
While I agree that in many cases it seems like the outrage is over-done or out of proportion to what was actually said or done. In this particular case, however, I do think outrage is a valid reaction for people to have. What Ferraro is essentially saying is that Barak Osama is essentially an "affirmative action hire" who success in the presidential race thus far is not the result of any qualifications he might have, but rather because he's black - and that if a white man of similar experience, age and positions on the various issues were running instead, he'd have been knocked out of consideration quite some time ago. Additionally, not only did she say this in a radio interview in mid-to-late February and again in a more recent newspaper interview, but she made almost the same comments about the Rev. Jesse Jackson during the election in which she became the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee. As far as the apology issue goes, I would have to agree that if Ferraro does believe what she's saying (and obviously she does since she's reiterated it) she shouldn't have to apologize. However, I also think that Clinton completely blew it by not demanding her immediate resignation or firing her when the statements first became public. Ferraro has every right to speak her own mind, especially when she is representing herself. But as a member of Clinton's fundraising team (no matter how large it may be) what she says ends up reflecting on Clinton, and as such, Clinton has the right to decide who she does or doesn't want speaking on her behalf and what they say while doing so. What's frustrating to me, personally, is that I really wish I could support Clinton - but a lot of what I've seen from her and her campaign in the last couple of months is making that very, very hard - and this latest flap may end up being the straw that breaks this camel's back. Yet I'm not sure I can whole-heartedly throw my support behind Obama yet. And since McCain and Nader are right out, it tends to leave me at a bit of a loss as to who I'm supporting going into the convention.
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
I think the reason that we flock to outraged public persona's is that so many American's have very strong opinions about these issues, but how often does the average American get to voice these opinions in a way that will be heard around the country? Not very often. These speakers aren't just pissed off in their own right, they're pissed off on behalf of thousands of people. While it may be unintentional, these people are the voices of a nation in a way that most of our elected officials never even attempt to be. TV Personalities do not have to worry about diplomacy, and can say what they, and usually thousands of other Americans, feel and think in a way that is going to get massive media attention and usually WILL make it's way to the ears of the likes of Senator's Clinton & Obama. Frankly, I think the 'outrage' effect is necessary. I may not always agree with what people have to say, but they have the right to say it and they wouldn't be on the air if people didn't agree with them. And as I said before, they're not just running their mouths. Their commentary servers a purpose. Our elected officials can ignore an angry phonecall from their constituents, but how do you ignore it when you're being called out on national TV in front of millions of people? It forces people to actually attempt to redeem themselves instead of just saying "Oh, I'm sorry" and continuing to screw up. But that's just my perspective.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
I agree with you completely citizen. Every single word!
Tinseltoe Tinseltoe 9 years
"Everything on FOX news"?? biased are we? It's hard to take any of this seriously when it's so shifted towards one way.:OY:
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
this is a great article. youre absolutely right. there is way too much noise in the world right now. the louder it gets the less space we have in our minds to be the critical and sensitive thinkers can be. i long for an extended vacation on walden pond.
piper23 piper23 9 years
What I don't get is if Geraldine really feels that way, then why the heck should she apologize for it? its one woman's opinion. and we're all entitled to have our own opinions. seems hypocritical cause I thought we had something called free speech. Maybe it should be called "free approved speech". And Nancy Grace is just the worst of the bunch. She totally screwed the Duke lacrosse players and then conveniently had a stand in the night that the story broke about them being innocent. I purposely watched her show that night to see what she would say and she wasn't even there! She's a coward and a hate-monger and everyone is guilty until proven innocent in her eyes. She disgusts me. And Fox News is the best news channel on tv!
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
:ROTFL: Cabaker! When I started reading your comment I was like WTH? haha You never fail to crack me up! :P :COCKTAIL:
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I AM OUTRAGED THAT CITIZEN WOULD POST THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DEMAND CITIZEN GET FIRED IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) geez typing that even as a joke annoyed me... haha!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Outrage never does any good. Now armed revolution, that's a powerful tool.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I completely agree that comentators seem to be more often than not about grand standing rather than the facts of the matter. However, I also don't see why it can't be about both. There is no reason that these narsasistic comentators can't deliver both fact and sensation. I agree with Cabaker27, it is not fair to single out FOX news network. I am a liberal and it may surprise you to here me say this but I do find the information on Fox not as balanced as they would have us believe, BUT, more so balanced than say MSNBC & CNN. Yes, the majority of Fox's on air personalities are conservative however they always have some one on with an opposing view. As for the other two networks it's just a liberal block party all the time.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
KrisSugar- that skit sounds hilarious!
Taadie Taadie 9 years
I think youre right. Everytime I turn on the news someone is 'outraged' about something that at best i can only disagree with. Even all this stuff with Geraldine Ferraro, I understand thats her opinion. I can see her point, and I dont agree, but I just dont understand why people cant say 'I disagree' and be done with it. Why does everyone have to be denounced and fired and rejected and scorned and so on and so forth.
nykundi nykundi 9 years
It really concerns me that anyone would refer to Ferraro's comments as "allegedly critical". As olberman says, it was not one statement taken out of context but repeated multiple times, and unapologetically. There is a difference between being oversensitive to "every little thing" and being outraged at a racist sentiment that at the very least is negatively affecting the democratic party, like so many other facets of senator clinton's campaign. If someone doesnt show outrage, it is a tacit acceptance of such comments and sentiments. I find Ferraro's comment far more offensive than Samantha Power's "monster" characterization....One that I am sorry to say Senator Clinton's campaign personnel are helping her live up (or down) to.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
While Glenn can get worked up sometimes, i don't see him in that group permanently. He is passionate but intelligently and humorously so.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
I agree Keith can be a bit much; I only watch him occasionally. For me, he is candy because I spend so much time around my fiance's family listening to them constantly b*tch about how liberals are evil and ruining the entire world and all the problems in the world are because of liberals. When I hear him ranting about the conservatives, it just makes me feel like SOMEBODY understands me! The thing with Keith is that I feel like he actually feels this way. So many commentators seem like their acting. I'm a devoted fan from Sports Center to Countdown, so maybe I'm a bit biased!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I do agree though that it does seem like the smallest things are deemed outrageous and it is desensitizing.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Who's looking out for you Citizen! I gotcha back!
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
She looks absolutely possessed in this picture! I have never been obsessed with "outrage." I have known since I was a kid that it stressed me out. I avoid these shows as much as I can. I don't understand how these commentators do it. I don't understand how they don't all have a massive, head exploding stroke or heart attack by age 41. In 6th grade, my friend and I put on a skit mimicking the show "Crossfire" that was on CNN. In the skit, we discussed school issues but purposefully did it in a very confrontational, aggressive, loud tone. The teachers thought it was hilarious!
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
Oh cabaker, you're right. The list definitely includes outrage on both sides. I knew I was never going to be able to make a comprehensive enough list so I grabbed the top of my head examples, and hoped you all would have more to add. Nice work!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Why not mention Rosie O'Donnell? Al Franken? Bill Maher? Everyone on Air America, or who used to be on Air America... EVERYTHING on Fox News? I don't think thats fair. If that was reality I doubt that Fox News would be as popular as it is.
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