I wrote an article called “Mining outrage” nine years ago in another forum. It was prompted by that label being applied to Bill O’Reilly and I don’t remember the precise vein of outrage he was mining back in 2004 on his TV show, The O’Reilly Factor. The point was that he used emphasis, rhetoric, telling half the story and sometimes misdirection to get people unjustifiably upset about things, to make them feel outraged. Mining outrage is a mainstay of partisan political talk radio, and the worst examples (particularly in intellectually dishonest outrage mining) seem to be on the Conservative side with Rush Limbaugh the miners’ union boss and the Republicans in Congress happily on board. (Keep in mind that I don’t have access to Liberal talk radio.)
When I was growing up, you had three TV network news organizations, major newspapers and news magazines that might have had a tiny slant in one direction or another, but generally told the story straight, and were quite responsible in using the appropriate level of concern about the stories they reported. AM radio played music. Today, those sources are still around, but there are so many other news sources that don’t subscribe to the canons of journalist integrity. There has always been some yellow journalism, but it has now exploded to the point that most people get their news from the dumpster. Indeed in a recent poll, Fox News was found more trusted as a news source than CNN on the Boston Marathon bombing story.
Birthers mine outrage as well and tap in to nascent racist feelings among their crowd. In either case what results is a cadre of people who are outraged, and being outranged not thinking straight, and not thinking straight, being outright nasty and combative. Outrage also makes people act hastily and stupidly. It is my feeling that folks are more nasty and belligerent than they used to be, Congress is more nasty and belligerent than it used to be, and that the explosion of low-quality alternative news sources and nasty and belligerent commentators is largely to blame, and those people who get rich by making other people angry really outrage me.