Random Posts

Friday, July 20, 2018

Talking Heads

     No, not the rock band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until 1991. Television talking heads. 
     I recently saw a meme posted on Facebook by someone who thinks President Trump is an idiot, racist, sexist president. Whether he is or not is not the point; we have had several presidents to which one or more of those characteristics apply. 
     The meme said something to the effect of being sick of people telling one what the president meant when he spoke; and here's the punch line...if he can't speak for himself then he should not be president. The implication is that President Trump can't articulate what he's thinking and somebody has to explain it to us. Again, that may or may not be true, but that's not the point either. 
     The point is that people explaining what the president meant when he said whatever it was he said have been around as long as television has. They are often referred to talking heads. These gasbags come on after the president speaks and yammer on and on about what he meant when he said (insert what he said here) as if viewers are too dumb to understand what was just said.
      In a recent study a couple of college professors claimed these news analysts, pundits, or talking heads as they are sometime called are often motivated by money. In television viewers mean money. In order to get viewers in regular television programming sex and violence sells. In the political realm it's lies, innuendo, stirring up controversy, hate and fear that draws viewers. Also, in the complicated world of political issues a lot of thought and investigation is required and that takes time and money. It's easier and cheaper to resort to trash talking. 
     These talking heads have a certain amount of power and influence: the power to tell the viewers or readers what to think and offering them “information” about these issues is a potent force.  Some examples: 

* A recent study from the Public Accountability Initiative in the United States revealed that 22 different commentators on Syria had connections to the defense and intelligence industries. The report also revealed that out of 111 appearances on television or in op-ed pages, these connections were disclosed only 13 times. This conflict of interest, tainted credibility, and skewed opinions are plaguing our ability to make informed decisions about a rapidly changing world. 
* According to research group Media Matters for America, of the 891 guests who appeared on US evening cable and broadcast news shows in the first six months of 2015 to discuss the economy, only 3 per cent were economists. 
* A study of 284 forecasters by Canadian-American psychologist Philip Tetlock concluded not just that their predictions fared badly over time but that the more frequently an expert appeared in the media, the more likely their forecasts were to be inaccurate. 

     Going back to that Facebook meme...it's a trivial, pointless piece of twaddle and the person sharing it should know better because these talking heads have done it with EVERY president. 
     If there is any indignation, it should be about the fact that we viewers are considered too ignorant to understand what the president said and like children, we need somebody to explain it to us.

No comments:

Post a Comment