You'd Like Me When I'm Angry

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The Economist's oh-so-smart columnist "Lexington" has filed a curious study of America's "rebirth of outrage." It's a big target, but somehow the columnist misses it. He identifies the "tabloid titans" as a handful of cable chat show hosts, and then claims they appeal "only to narrow slivers of the country." Sure, they do. But any study of American outrage has to take in the apolitical rage-mongers who hype up local crime and kidnapping stories. O'Reilly's modest audience is only a fraction of Rush Limbaugh's, and Limbaugh is merely the most successful of the hundreds of rageholic radio hosts sharing the AM dial. And they're not all political, either—I'm assuming Lex has never listened to a sports call-in show.

The column lacks any real evidence of, or reasons for, an outrage boom. There's speculation about the 2000 election, gerrymandering, Roe v. Wade, and the feuds between Puritans and Cavaliers. Despite the hectoring tone, there's nothing here that explains why American outrage is bad (you'd expect a few stats on cholestoral and heart attacks, at least). If you wanted to explain why America has fast-paced, endlessly amusing media and culture, you might end up with a very similar column.

NEXT: "Soy Ateo, Gracias a Dios"

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  1. (psst – David: last para. could use a spellcheck) 🙂

  2. I’m outraged!

  3. What!!? No Jerry Springer!?
    No Oprah!!?
    Why it’s……..
    it’s……..
    simply……..

    AARRRGGGHHH!!!

    Where the hell is Phil Donahue when you need him!!!?

  4. This isn’t limited to pundits and talking heads. I find most news reported on TV is designed and tooled for an unpleasant response from one side or the other. Every time Pat Robertson or Jesse Jackson opens his mouth it’s all over the news. Why? What possible relevance or significance does either man have in modern society except to piss others off.

  5. What, did the Reason office cough up for a subscription to the Economist?

  6. Does anyone outside of The Economist know the actual identities of their pseudonymous writers.

  7. Why do most of these conservative rageaholics have goatees?

    Don’t tell me I’m the only one who has noticed.

  8. I think if your stock in trade is going to be outrage at the conduct of your fellow citizens and government, you’re unlikely to run low on inventory for a long time to come.

    Despite the hectoring tone, there’s nothing here that explains why American outrage is bad

    Who knows, but it does seem to be a successful technique for keeping people’s attention, which is pretty much the point in a head-counting biz like TV & radio. I suppose every minute a listener or viewer gives his attention to something besides the Outrage of the Moment, that’s dollars and cents slipping out the hands of the TV & radio moguls we all know and love.

    Maybe it would be a better world if we all were less outraged so often and had more time to do things like build tiny ships in bottles, or whatever else floats your boat.

  9. …build tiny ships in bottles, or whatever else floats your boat.

    If you got the boat in the bottle, how’d you get it to float, huh? HUH? That infuriates me! ARRRGHH!!

  10. I guess maybe the point is that while America may be rich and “free”, it seems to have produced a bunch of pissed-off people anyway.

  11. ah, yes. the Lexington column. full of assumptions about the US desinged to support negative brit/euro stereotypes of the us.

    reason #322,187 why in 1998 i got rid of my economist subscription. hate that sophomoric magazine.

    (plus: you simply cannot be pro EU and pro libertarianism/ limited government, the way the economist pretends to be. if you are, you’re not paying attention to what one is or the other. then again, the corn syrup asshole is exactly that type…)

  12. Goatee (actually you mean Vandyke, goatee has no ‘stache) is evolving into the mullet of the 21st century.

  13. Goatee (actually you mean Vandyke, goatee has no ‘stache) is evolving into the mullet of the 21st century.

    i’ve never had my thoughts more perfectly expressed in words by another person! excellent!

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