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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Voyeuristic Nature Of The TV Viewer

We hear time and time again how Bill O'Reilly has more viewers than any other program.

While he operates under the poorly informed notion that that means that his message is valid and his stories are "fair and balanced", it reflects more on the viewers themselves rather than the vehicle that is the message.

And, it's not just O'Reilly that has a large viewing audience.

Fox News saw its daily viewership increase by 24% last month, compared to Feb. 2008. Bill O’Reilly was up 33% (3.6 million viewers) in February compared to the previous year. Sean Hannity rose 38% (to nearly 2.8 million). And newly-minted right-wing talker Glenn Beck “has doubled his timeslot.”


More here.

Make no mistake, all the viewers of programs featuring Hannity, O'Reilly, Beck - or any name and number of conservative mouthpieces - will not fall into the catagory of "fans".

Far-right conservative television provides entertainment value more than it does informational value. Also, there is a certan voyeuristic quality that come with show of this nature - Hannity and O'Reilly's in specific.

They, more than any, seem to be speaking directly to their "fans" rather than an audience that they are attempted to persuade to "come to their side". In that way, they are more "commentary" than "news". When we watch these shows, we are peaking through the window at an intimate conversation based on all things outside the realm of truth and rationality. Though these shows can be peppered with the occassional rational voice, the meat and theme of them is primarily of a exploitative nature. They are meant to arouse emotion rather than to inform.

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