24 Hour News Cycle to Blame for Fringe Radicals Getting National Spotlight


It’s quite a stunning statement about the state of the American press when the activities and fringe interests of the very few — we’re talking fewer people than you’ll find cars in your average supermarket parking lot — gain such natural interest as to make the military leader of our forces in Afghanistan personally state his disapproval of said activity.

Take a look at this diagram I found courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:


Image via Mark Shea:

It’s easy as pie to generalize to millions of people the crimes of a few. We Catholics have had it done to us. And we can have it done to us again. So we should be bloody cautious about insane schemes to do it to 18 million fellow citizens.

The grotesque excuse “But the the first amendment is dead, and Islam killed it. There is no ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘freedom of religion’ with the threat of Muslim violence hanging over your head” is rubbish. Cancelling the rights of 307 million people because you are, by your own admission, afraid is neither patriotism, nor courage, nor Christian fortitude. It is cowardice. And it is extra-special cowardice when you are ready to cancel your most precious national heritage because you are afraid of a speck.

I couldn’t say this any better myself even if I tried.

Some could argue that it is newsworthy — sure, burning the Quran will get you noticed.  But, this is the kind of thing for Hard Copy (if it were still around) or the local Gainesville six o’clock news.  It went from a blip on the radar – where it should’ve remained – to garnishing worldwide attention because our 24-hour news cycle needs to fill their shows with content, regardless of how newsworthy the item may be.

And if it’s not quite newsworthy enough, well, rest assured that the weeks and weeks of talking heads commenting on the rightness or wrongness of Rev. Terry Jones and his Quran-burning plans will make it so.  (Note that they must include the rightness AND wrongness because they mistake their role of reporting the truth with being balanced on every topic, no matter how lunatic.)

And to what end?

All that’s happened is that these radicals have been legitimized.  Now Rev. Jones is planning to go to New York City to talk to Imam Rauf regarding the “Ground Zero” mosque.  Since when does a Gainesville reverend with a congregation of 50 followers have any authority whatsoever to involve himself in the building plans in a neighborhood 1,000 miles away from where he calls home?

Oh right.  Because he was on the news TV.



  1. It does beg the question why any news channel would give so much air time over to a “fringe” element. At the same time though I wouldn’t want any information suppressed, let’s just understand that the American people are smart enough to see through the “agenda” of any particular news channel or blog.

    • Both good points.

      As I wrote this, I wondered what the alternative would be — a media that just chooses to not report something simply because it’s fringe? Clearly that’s not the better option.

      Perhaps it’s not the amount of exposure that’s to blame so much as what kind of exposure. Giving this type of story as much coverage as it’s gotten by allowing both “sides” to the story get equal timeshare is ridiculous. Why aren’t these graphs shown on TV? Instead you get one person saying they disagree, the other saying they agree, and that’s it. Over and over again. It makes it seem like the issue is truly divided down the middle and that it’s like a coin-toss which side you’re on. When in reality, the number of people who aren’t in favor of burning the Quran drastically overwhelms those in favor.

  2. There’s so many different factors that go into why the media reports what it does, and how it does it. But the main factor has to do with ratings.


    These are the things that most media stations have noticed bring in the strongest ratings, so of course they are going to angle their stories as such. CNN does it, MSNBC does it, the television networks do it—the only one I can think of that doesn’t do it is PBS, but look at their dismal ratings (unfortunately).

    Scandal and controversy sells for news media and it’s unfortunate that so many different parties, communities, and news stories have become victim of that.

    • I agree with you, Cristian.

      The 24-hour news channel was an amazing development at first, allowing people access to what was going on in the world at all hours of the day when they happened as opposed to only noon, 6 and 11pm, with some random This Just In… style interruptions for the super important developments.

      I think we’re seeing this happen again with social media. I find out about news via Twitter and Facebook; I never watch news channels on TV. Hell, I don’t even have cable so I don’t even watch TV.

      But, a lot of people still do. The cool thing is that social media isn’t about ratings in the same way. And there’s instant response from viewers so if you’re reporting just to report for ratings sake, people will call you out on it and unfollow you. Well, that’s the way it could go at least.

      All the major channels are in the business of 1) profits first, and 2) news second. The onus remains on the public for discerning what’s truly newsworthy and worthwhile.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ryan Mason, Cristian Gonzales. Cristian Gonzales said: Great read. "24 Hour News Cycle to Blame for Fringe Radicals Getting National Spotlight". http://t.co/cNuEcyn via @masonry #politics #media […]

  4. Burning books of any kind is juvenile and irrelevant. Islam is a real threat and to compare it any other religion is ludicrous. The fact they don’t respect women and threat them like second class citizen is enough for me, they have to shape up or get the hell out. And on the subject of burning, it is amazing to me that the outrage over a lunatic religious leader in Florida burning some korans is way stronger than when millions of Muslims are out burning flags and killing people over some idiotic cartoons. get your head on straight and evolve or dissolve.

    • “Burning books of any kind is juvenile and irrelevant.” – Completely agree with you on this one, Magnus. I don’t agree with you that Islam is a real threat. The radical form of Islam, which is hardly even a religious doctrine so much as a hate-filled, extremist’s insane rationale for committing atrocities. The easiest proof that it’s not all of Islam is judging by the sheer numbers of Muslims over the world — that diagram on this post says it all.

      But I also agree with you that people need to get their heads on straight and worry about the real problems in the world — some fringe radicals burning Qurans isn’t even close to something we should give two seconds of our time to.

      • Well I think that you and many others are very naive when it comes to islam, but the future will have to tell, no other religion worth mentioning sets out to kill all that does not believe in the same thing, but even more disturbing to me is that we continue to talk, respect and try to understand them as they continue to stone their women and gays, indoctrinate and teach their children to hate, they are all radicals Ryan, all of them, and until they show me that they are willing to change their ways, get rid of sharia law for instance, I can not recognize islam as religion and have a serious discussion with or about them, and either should we as a country, it is a disgrace for all of us.

        • I get what you’re saying, but you’re conflating religious extremists and corrupt national leaders with all followers of Islam. There’s no hope in understanding someone like Ahmadinejad — he’s just a terrible person with hate-filled ideas and a totally warped sense of the world. But not all billion-and-a-half Muslims agree with him and the Taliban. And not all are as extreme in their beliefs as some are.

          “they are all radicals Ryan, all of them” C’mon. So because you’re Swedish and you’re a Realtor, I can definitively say that all Swedes are Realtors? If all Muslims are extremists and there are 1.5 billion Muslims on this planet, then why isn’t there a car bomb every single second of the day? Do you happen to know any Muslims? Have those Muslims tried to kill you for being an infidel? (And if you don’t, perhaps that’s a reason why you feel this way — you only are basing this on what you see and read and not what you experience when these faceless entities become actual people.)

          Remember: it wasn’t too long ago that people in this country were enslaving an entire group of people, treating them as less than whole human beings. Women weren’t allowed to vote and were considered property of their husbands. We burned people alive because we thought they were witches! Now, I’m not excusing any of this behavior, nor those you mentioned — it’s clearly wrongheaded at best and patently evil at worst. Only that cultures evolve. Cultures change. And as we can see here at least, freedom and equality seems to be the natural direction forward. And some cultures are further along in their progression than others. Regretfully, some of the Muslim countries still have laws that restrict that evolution through a tyrant’s hand, but don’t confuse that with all the people living under that as being gleeful about it. Just look at the Green Revolution in Iran last summer.

          Don’t confuse discussion with weakness on this. In fact, I’d say that discussing it displays our evolved sense of justice and tolerance that you seem to explicitly want from them. To do anything less would be hypocritical on our parts.

  5. I think you are wrong, i think ones critical mass has been achieved and the Muslims are starting to have significant influence in the political systems, such as in France for instance or England our free societies will seize and we will take a giant step backwards, and you will find out how radical they are. The fact that we have evolved and they have not is the issue in itself, and the non radical Muslims are not making much noise that I hear, to condemn the radical behavior, do you? Don’t forget average German did was not radical either but yet Hitler was able to do a lot of damage wouldn’t you say. They have to show that they want to change, evolve, until then, no reason to talk to them AT ALL.

    • Well Islam isn’t a country. It is a religion. And its followers live in a number of different societies, including our own. And I find the worry of Muslims gaining political power in countries like France or England to be paranoid. It’s hardly unprecedented — there was uproar over JFK being a Roman Catholic, and Romney owes some of his presidential campaign’s downfall to being an “other,” in this case, a Mormon — not quite Christian enough for the base.

      I don’t see how Muslims have to apologize for things that they’re not a part of any more than Protestants should have to apologize for the actions of Catholic priests who are pedophiles. For American Muslims, what should they do? Hold a rally against radical Muslims? Would that help? Isn’t being just a normal member of American society enough?

      “The fact that we have evolved and they have not is the issue in itself.” There are a lot of cultures that may not be as progressive as ours, but I don’t see why we should just exclude them from any conversation. Ignoring them won’t make them go away. And dismissing them without trying to understand them will only make us regress. And that’s assuming that we’re the most evolved society out there. It’s hard to think that a country that still lets the state execute its citizens and recently introduced torture as a legitimate war tactic is the most tolerant and righteous group out there. Not that we’re horrible — far from it. But, we can stand to improve. And shutting out anyone who isn’t “like us” won’t help us advance as a people in any shape or form. That’s what those repressed societies did to themselves and if we do that same thing here, I fear for what will happen to us.

  6. You are very naive Ryan. How do you make a comparison Catholics etc. its insane, as I don’t agree with any religion and certainly not the Catholics they do not fly planes into buildings. You are underestimating the Muslim agenda, they have one purpose, and that is to take over the world, luckily for me I will be dead when that happens, but not you, or my children. To call it paranoia is crazy, do you not see what is happening? are you not aware what is going on with them trying to push sharia law in England etc. Are you aware that Swedish prisons is filled with Muslims that have tortured their wife’s and children, not legal in Sweden,maiming their daughters etc.Are you blind to the burning of flags and death threats to comic book writers and any other person that speaks out against them? If they want respect and acceptance the change HAS to come from them, NOT from us.To compare our imperfections to theirs is like comparing dropping nuclear bomb to setting of a firecracker on Forth of July.We are dealing with lots and lots of crazy fanatics, not just a few lunatics,and no they are not all willing to strap bombs to them selves but they have the same goal, an Islamic world, and I don’t want to be in it, and either do you, trust me on that.

    • Again, you’re conflating all Muslims with the agenda of a small percentage of radical Muslims. Yes, I have problems with many Muslim states’ laws with regard to the treatment of women and adultery and other things — it’s a vast cultural difference, I agree. But to then lump those people in with suicide bombers and terrorists is quite another. It’s not a progression — people don’t start off as wife-beaters and then turn to car bombing.

      You want to use those bad eggs to blame and ostracize an entire group of people — well over a billion people, spread all over the world, including here in America. I’m not willing to jump to those drastic conclusions. It’s easy to just blame an entire religion and say that it’s not even a religion to delegitimize it further so that you feel okay about condemning that large swath of human beings who happen to have different cultural beliefs than you. The reality is that it’s much more complex than that.

      It is paranoia. Plain and simple, they aren’t all anything. Just like all Swedes aren’t one thing, all Christians aren’t one thing, all Californians aren’t one thing. I encourage you to stop generalizing so broadly an entire people of this planet. I’m not sure where your anger comes from or why you feel so strongly about how right you are about Muslims. I get that you fear for what will happen to your children in whatever world you leave them, and I respect that. I don’t know what that would be like and I suppose it might make me more protective. I just hope that it wouldn’t make me paranoid and dismiss an entire people as being savages when they aren’t. Yes, there are some that are. But do you say that all Africans are savages because there are some in Africa who still believe in witchcraft? There are horrible people within any and every population.

      And you’re wrong about the change coming from them. It comes from all of us. It comes from people who already see the world with open eyes, with love, with tolerance. You don’t stop hate and ignorance with hate and intolerance back at them. It happens by us being the bigger people, the ones who stick to our values and beliefs of embracing diversity and freedom and liberty, showing the world that we can live together. Through leading by example.

      I want the world to be a safer, better place, too. I just don’t see how we can accomplish that by demonizing an entire population of the human race. And I don’t see how we recover from that rot that then lives inside us, that hate that we nurture to create this huge enemy in Islam as a whole. What does that get us? How does that help us any? How do we maintain the land of the free, then?

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