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Talking Heads and Propaganda

I have the bad habit (according to my wife) of clicking on different television stations during commercials.
    Almost every night we get bits and pieces of two talk shows that are completely antagonistic to each other. Bill O'Reilly (the O'Reilly Factor on Fox), and Keith Olbermann (Countdown on MSNBC). Mr. O'Reilly champions conservatism, and Olbermann liberalism. Even though they have a lot in common, using many of the same misleading rhetorical techniques to influence their audiences, and carve out a fine income from it, they hate each other. A while back, I liked them both. Now, I've lost all respect for them. To call them entertainers is giving entertainers a bad name.
    There are a lot of ideological fanatics on radio and television, of course. Rachel Maddow is the most recent, but Sean Hannity, Anne Coulter, Glenn Beck, Mike Savage and the grand-daddy of them all, Rush Limbaugh, share high marks in this regard. I'm sure there are many others trying to make a name att his as well.
    The power these people have comes from aiming their comments at an audience of a particular political ideology and manipulating their fears, outrage and personal biases. They want to dictate to us what is right and what is wrong. Having an open mind, partaking on a quest for truth, refusing to be led like sheep into a mob mentality, is the last thing they want from us. If everyone were a free-thinker, they'd be out of a job.
    We've recently seen what a powerful effect Rush Limbaugh has on the Republican Party. Democrats have declared him the de facto leader of their opposition, and the Republicans shy away from denying it. This is the kind of influence that these talking heads can generate.
    How should we consider such "talking heads?"
Personally, I look to the 9th Trust for the answer.

"I will abhor scandals and gossip-neither partake not delight in them."

But we need no such reference to know that it is wrong for anyone to make a living based on gossip, innuendo and the willingness to say anything to hurt those of differing opinions. We know in our hearts that this is wrong. These fanatics awaken each morning thinking about how they can harm "the opposition." They are certainly not chivalrous as I see it. Not manly either. They remind me of professional wrestlers who prefer staged talk to staged wrestling.
    I seriously doubt that they believe half of what they say, which puts them in conflict with other Trusts as well, such as speaking the truth, committing one's life to the greater good, putting concern for others above personal wealth, cherishing humility, defending the defenseless, upholding justice, and living one's life with courtesy and honor.
    They do find ways, however, to beguile the innocent with their self-righteousness, quick banter, and confident style. The ones we agree with seem to be "one of us." The ones we disagree with, are the bad guy opposition. Angels on one hand, demons on the other—all depending on who is listening. The feelings they generate are addictive, fueling our anger, influencing our opinion, and contributing to the confusion of life that leads to poor political choices.
    In a sense, they are enemies of democracy, which can only function well when voters are well-informed about truth.
    These are only my opinions, of course. People need to decide for themselves. I hope we all take time to think about it.


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