FOX NEWS and CNN – FANNING THE FLAMES OF CULTURAL ANGER
It’s become a daily mantra: “America has lost all civility and has turned into a nation of political schisms, name-calling and bitter rivalries”. Usually these words are aimed at politicians. And, of course, folks like President Trump and Elizabeth Warren certainly do their part to fuel a verbal climate of animosity and acrimony. Republicans and Democrats are both guilty. I’m guilty. You’re probably guilty too.
Years ago, Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, wrote a story about Ronald Reagan entitled, When Character Was King. In describing the 40th President of the United States, Noonan wrote, “…The secret of his success was no secret at all. It was his character—his courage, his kindness, his persistence, his honesty…that was the most important element of his success.” Looking at the political sewer that is Washington, D.C. today, the lack of character, civility, and honesty by some of those elected to represent us is vexing to say the least.
Having said this, I believe that an even bigger contributing factor in the current civility meltdown is the cable news industry. The 24-hour news cycle has become big business. It’s a multi-billion-dollar business! Which means that no matter what is going on in the culture at large, the “show must go on”. Which means…a steady diet of nightly vitriol by folks like Sean Hannity and Don Lemon. Whenever I occasionally turn on Fox or CNN, and flip back and forth, the tone sounds the same: anger, accusations, and allegations. We turn it off and watch Andy Griffith instead. I used to enjoy watching Larry King interview people. You felt like it was an intelligent dialogue, and it was, well, civil. Now the nightly talk shows are a collection of talking heads, spewing partisan spin, distortions of history, and serving it up with indignation and name-calling.
This is the unintended consequences of a 24-hour news cycle. It must produce the next show, it must aim for higher ratings, it must seek a lead over its competitors. And because of that, it is fueling a culture of anger in our political discourse. The Bible’s warnings here are manifold. Both Proverbs and Jesus remind us that words matter, and matter a lot. So does tone. Our words are powerful and explosive. Our tone of voice is likewise. The biblical worldview reminds us that we are called to be very careful with our anger and our responses to one another. Especially those we disagree with. This is a lesson that all of us need a powerful reminder of – as do the folks at CNN and Fox News.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor