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The Culture of Fear Fears Based on Fallacies

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Essay title: The Culture of Fear Fears Based on Fallacies

The Culture of Fear Fears based on Fallacies

Americans have a tendency to underestimate the power of the media and its influence over our beliefs and expectations in society. News is delivered to our homes in many different ways including the television, newspaper and word of mouth. It is our first instinct to take what we see and hear from authority figures or news stations to be true. Therefore, we do not realize that the “media,” in any form, often delivers more or less than solid facts. The media has the ability to report what it wants you to hear. The messages it communicates may exaggerate unimportant details but leave out or belittle major events it is uninterested in. The promoting of false beliefs is not limited to the media; influential organizations and people (such as politicians) can be just as effective in spreading such beliefs. The Culture of Fear, written by Barry Glassner, introduces readers to an inside look at this concept.

In his book, Glassner uncovers false beliefs held by a vast majority of people. These beliefs constitute myths and urban legends that make up an ever-growing “Culture of Fear” in America. The “Fear mongers,” as Glassner classifies them, promote unwarranted fears among the general public. Americans therefore focus their attention on “being afraid of the wrong things.” The “wrong things” include unwarranted fears the media expresses as truths. Often more important serious events become neglected when so much attention is put on propaganda in the news. Using a plethora of facts and statistics, Glassner supports his argument using specific examples of how “fear mongers” have succeeded in stirring up fear in the public. “How fears are sold,” “Tall Tales and Overstated Statistics,” and “Faulty diagnoses and Callous Cures” are a few themes Glassner uses to prove his point.

The theme, How Fears are Sold, is initially introduced in the first chapter, “Dubious Dangers on Roadways and Campuses.” This section describes the ease in which people are sucked into “scares” or “hype” regarding a nonexistent problem. Glassner describes road rage as a small risk the media successfully turned into a wide scale fear among Americans. Organizations responsible for Introducing fear of road rage to Americans include talk show hosts, news reporters, and printed news sources. In one example, Glassner identifies Oprah Winfrey as one guilty “fear monger.” In a 1997 program on road rage, Oprah described several incidents where road rage grew into shootings and fistfights (Glassner 4). Despite the fact that road rage rarely transforms into anything more serious, Oprah’s “influential power” inspired fear into many of her viewers. Road rage is most definitely not a significant risk to drivers. According to U.S. News and World Report, the AAA attributed only 218 out of 250,000 deaths on the road due to angry drivers between 1990 and 1997 (Glassner 5).

Another example of this phenomenon of “selling fears” to television viewers can be seen in talk shows that repetitively seek out troubled teenagers. These teenagers or pre-teens in some cases are often rebellious delinquents, drug-attics, or posses some other combination of immoral qualities. People exposed to these forms of media, which present teenagers this way, are taught to view all teenagers as potential criminals.

Tall Tales and Overstated Statistics reflects the theme of the second chapter, “Crime in the News.” Crime in the news occurs each time we turn on the television and are exposed to exaggerated and right or left wing information. News channels claim to report reliable facts, but the way in which news stories are reported often reflect these types of biases. Fox news, whose former maxim was “we report, you decide,” is probably the most notorious channel for advocating conservative or right wing views. The film, “outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism,” presents a compilation of Fox news’ most embarrassing moments throughout the years.

The Outfoxed film also includes a series of ex-Fox news employees whom retell their experience working for the company. The past employees confess Fox was responsible for the unfair manipulation of News broadcasted to the public. Jon Du Pre, former Fox News Anchor, confesses in an interview in the Outfoxed film, that as an employee, he was taught that “we were not necessarily there as journalists or broadcasters to serve the viewers; we were there to serve headquarters. What headquarters wanted, that’s what we would give them” (Outfoxed). Fox news utilized methods of propaganda to promote what “headquarters wanted,” which was often to support conservative politicians or beliefs. Du Pre reports that, “we were not necessarily broadcasting, we were ‘narrowcasting’… we were there to appease

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