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Posts Tagged ‘television’

Rioters burned Priestley's home not for what he did, but for what he said about revolution.

Extremists are never bored.

Tom Junod’s remarkable piece on Fox News mogul Roger Ailes in Esquire magazine is well worth your time anyway, but for rhetoricians and students of political argument it’s pure gold–a look inside the head of the man who is largely responsible for the shape of American political discourse. It’s a long article but it pays back the effort with chestnuts like these:

What Roger Ailes has done at Fox is find a way to mainstream extremity for fun and, of course, for profit. He’s found out that people need the validating experience of extremity in the same way that he does. And he takes extreme positions and says extreme things because he needs to, because they allow him to make the choice that’s at the heart of his power.

If nothing else, Junod should be given an award of some kind for coming with a phrase that encapsulates so much about where American political discourse (and increasingly global political discourse) is today.  The “validating experience of extremity”– a notion big enough to capture both the vague anger of everyday people struggling to make the mortgage payment and the kind of madness that drove Jared Lee Loughner– is a phenomenon we should all be watching very closely.  There is perhaps no single, more important fact about the current political environment than that it is driven by this experience.

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