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  • Writer's pictureSara Sharpe

Media Mind F**k

Dear Friend,

Have you noticed that the media does not always maintain its commitment to academic objectivity? That we’re often subjected to sneering editorializing as opposed to objective reporting? That some news networks go out of their way to villainize folks on the opposing side of the divide?

Yeah, I’ve noticed, too.

I have very, very strong feelings about this. Why? Because if we watch the sneering cable news networks, we can be sure that we will come away from that exercise with a radically warped perception of reality. We must shore up against the onslaught, you and me. We must make a concerted and muscular effort to break free of our bubbles. Any forceful and animated talking head – news pundits, YouTube personalities posing as experts, etc. – can quickly and dangerously shape the narrative by pointing to extreme behavior among a group of people and then painting everyone on the opposite side of the divide with a broad, villainous brush. Stories are powerful and can be used constructively or destructively.

To be clear, we can always find genuinely abhorrent behavior on both sides of the divide if we look for it – pro-Palestinian protestors cheering on Hamas in NYC, for instance, and the stabbing death of an eight-year-old Palestinian-American boy (26 times) by his landlord in Chicago. But most of us are not unhinged extremists (or worse), and we should not fall prey to villainizing everyone across the divide based on the worst among us, even though the current media strategy seems to be to villainize everyone across the divide based on the worst among us. In other words, double down on the worst/most extreme behavior of those on the opposite side of the divide to shore up support for your own while convincing viewers that this same behavior characterizes the entire party. Remember, there are 332 million people in the United States, 39 million of whom are registered voters for the Republican Party and 49 million of whom are registered voters for the Democratic party, according to the World Population Review (which points out that these numbers are always in flux). Suggesting that a series of protests numbering in the hundreds or even thousands reflect the party as a whole is ridiculous. But wow, is it a common tactic, and one which ensures we regularly mistake the fringe for the whole.

When we see folks on the other side of the divide acting crazy, we must remember that they are in the minority, and that most Americans – on both sides of the divide – are good, kind and rational folks. That should go without saying, but I’m afraid it doesn’t in the age of hype, clickbait, and political hysteria.

What can we do about this?


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Dec 09, 2023

You fail to ask the important question. Who controls the media?

Sara Sharpe
Sara Sharpe
2 days ago
Replying to

The most recent Supreme Court ruling aside (which sided with the current White House), I would argue that moneyed interests control the media far too often.

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