News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Friday, February 28, 2020

Pissing duels and bitchy fights are irrelevant to politics of democracy

Those sessions with presidential candidates held on television advertised as debates are not debates.  A debate is when a proposal is raised as a subject and debaters present the facts and reasoning for and against the proposal.  Those televised spectacles are to debating what a drunken barroom brawl is to an olympic boxing event.  

As such an event approaches, the news anchors speak of it as a fight event.  They talk of attacks, striking out, swinging knock out punches.  Lost in their fight club frenzy is any marshaling of facts or cogent reasoning.  They see the alleged debate as a brawl intended to hurt and destroy.

Conflict is one of the criteria that the public responds  to in news stories. It is one of the features editors look for in evaluating a news story.  But it is also an aspect which has a special appeal to some people.   A segment of the population loves to see a fight in which one party will get humiliated.  Tabloid and cable news goad debate participants to move beyond mere disagreement over some issues into open anger, hostility, and malice.  Some of these alleged debates have had all the coherence of a fight over a swing on an elementary school playground.   To those of us involved in teaching human communication, these occasions are evidence of a massive failure of our education system.  Most educated people who note the gross deficiencies in these so-called debates dismiss them with a shrug of the shoulders.  The commentators who presume to divine the winners of the debates do so on the basis of who dominated and put on the most brash performances.  They assess the presentation of ideas and supporting arguments far down on their lists of comments.  But their guiding principle is to produce the angry conflicts that make "good television"--fodder for the dolts.

The cable news anchors have goaded some thoughtful and articulate candidates to act like Donald Trump in order to get some positive notice from them.  And Trump has been thoroughly diagnosed by experts on human behavior as entering an advanced stage of dementia.  The candidates have submitted to the demands for performances rather than focus on ideas and supporting information.  The American people have accepted this as the way democracy works, unaware that Big Brother has manipulated them so that they can't see what is before their eyes or hear what is actually said.

For those who may wish to know what the real issues are for American democracy, there is the written word still being produced.  And there are some town halls during which candidates actually provide information.  But how many people care or know how to avail themselves of that information?




1 comment:

Donald said...

I agree. I switched off the last two Democratic candidate "debates" somewhere in the middle. "Pissing duel" about sums it up. You can see better debating at any high school debate tournament in South Dakota on any weekend during the winter.

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