Rock Center   |  September 20, 2012

War of Words: Partisan ranting is ‘marketing of fear’

Partisan ranting is more widespread than ever and has contributed to a hugely profitable industry raking in over $1 billion dollars. New York Times media columnist David Carr describes the increased partisan slant presented on cable news outlets as the “marketing of fear.” Rock Center Special Correspondent Ted Koppel reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> at it even over the short course of american history , it is still a very new idea. news media that agree with you when you wake up in the morning, right or left. that is the subject of ted koppel 's reporting tonight. he and others feel it is corrosive and does nothing to help compromise in this country. here now, part two of ted's reporting.

>> reporter: once upon a time in a kinder gentler age, jon stewart visited " cross fire ."

>> why do you argue? the two of you. i hate to see it.

>> he tried to make peace between the warring pundits.

>> one word i want to till you guys --

>> yeah?

>> stop. stop, stop, stop, stop hurting america.

>> that was two presidential election cycles back. and now.

>> you are one, sick, miserable, evil, sob.

>> now things are worst.

>> the very stupidest in mitt romney 's life tonight is mitt romney .

>> the partisan ranting is more widespread than ever, primarily because it's hugely profitable.

>> fox news channel .

>> fox news says david carr pulls in well over $1 billion a year.

>> $1 billion every single year. from a runway that nobody thought existed.

>> that is a partisan news network with the slogan " fair and balanced ."

>> msnbc, after a while, just said, well there is -- there has got to be a great business in being a counterveiling force to that. if that business is that big, $1 billion a year in profits. what if we were only half that big that would seem fine to me.

>> these are some of the cable stars who bring in the big bucks . they're not normally shy about expressing their opinions, but, their bosses, the presidents of fox and our sister network, msnbc, wanted no part of this conversation. and also declined on behalf of their on-air talent. the one exception, bill o 'reilly, who acknowledged the danger in those he called the demagogues. the assassins.

>> what is it going to take for you people to wake up?

>> among those o'reilly points to, michael savage .

>> they want you to speak spanish, act muslim. give up going to the church, going to a mosque, this is not going to go on in this country much longer. we are going to have a revolution in this country if this keeps up. these people are pushing the wrong people around. watch extreme fighting and see what the white male is capable of.

>> reporter: the british government found savage stow offensive that they barred hem from entering the united kingdom . the worst of the rancid drivel is so inflammatory we won't use it.

>> because the rage reached the boil.

>> reporter: his book, the savage nation was a number one best-seller, his program by the same name is the third most listened to radio talk show in the united states . david carr calls it the marketing of fear.

>> it is a feeling of we are here in the bunker, they're after us, and --

>> mark levine , even, the announcer who introduces mark "and now --

>> and now broadcasting from the underground command post , deep in the bowels of the hidden bunker.

>> levine was able to in flaw eflaw -- influence voters in texas helping the candidate win the gop primer.

>> i want to thank sean hannity , mark levine , the great one.

>> olympia snow , senior republican senator from maine is not running for another term. she's walking away in disgust. because bipartisanship is out of fashion. here she is with steny hoyer , the number two democrat in the house.

>> today's journalists, too often, because it is profitable to do so and it builds audiences see their job not to inform but to incite. to get people riled up. to get their juices running.

>> we understand what it is all about. the cable news outlets they have create aid niche in the marketplace. it is very competitive. if some are in the business for entertainment, for example, that's their job. our job ties solis to solve problems.

>> people tend to watch the channel that doesn't give them facts. doesn't make them think, but makes them think that their views are the views. they're accurate. and the other guys are bad, dumb, wrong, the enemy if you will.

>> reporter: smart, stubborn and ideological opposites, bill mahr and ann coulter did sit down and demonstrated to,0 ed the to,000 til futi lity of trying to bridge the gap.

>> you may have thought we were too liberal.

>> yes, you still are.

>> you have no idea what my thoughts are. all you know is what i am asking you. you may think we were too liberal. but we strove to keep at least a public objectivity. really did.

>> right, the appearance of objectivity pushing a left wing agenda. i think it is the first time a lot of liberals have been able to hear conservatives or know what they think.

>> vice versa.

>> no, you can't get away from the liberal sound machine. always read "the new york times."

>> the times, all things considered, the times its a pretty good newspaper.

>> no!

>> no? name a great news organization.

>> fox news.

>> the bifurcation is really extreme. i mean the left is for the left. the right is for the right.

>> left is not further left. the left is further right. see this is the problem that the media makes. the left is not further left. the republicans keep staking out this a further and further ground to the right. and then demanding that the democrats meet them in the center. except it is not the center anymore. it aven it's center right. that's what obama is. to call him a socialist? he is not even a liberal.

>> i could and maybe will, take what you say and what ann coulter said, she is the mirror image of what you say. fox, they are fair and balanced . they're giving you the new. they're not doing what msnbc is doing. she is saying exactly the opposite.

>> who has the facts on their side? who is dealing with the facts? we are not just screaming at each other. one is screaming facts and truth. one side is screaming their version of truth which is religious based nonsense.

>> will you grant me at least this much, ann, that there has the been a coarsening of the dialogue in america?

>> no.

>> no?

>> i think we just have both sides.

>> you won't give me that.

>> know, you just get the from the other side. liberals don't like it so you are screaming bloody murder. back when you thought we were living in peace and harmony. we just felt like we were under attack.

>> live in a bubble. liberals have their own bubble to a degree. i admit that. not as the bad as the conservatives. the people who wake up to a.m. radio and listen to rush limbaugh at lunch and sean hannity at dinner and only have fox news on, they live in a world outside of facts.

>> what is the impact of right-wing radio, left wing humor, fox on one side, msnbc on the other side? what is the impact of people only hearing echos of what they already believe?

>> i think it is a threat to our perfect union, i really do. whatever president goes to washington and says i am going to end the partisanship, going to end the politics of divisiveness, i don't believe them. i believe that the mechanism overlaid on it will not allow it. that -- that people tune in basically for the warfare. they're not interested in the fruits of peace. they're not interested in, it's bad television. who would want to watch that?

>> all right, ted koppel , do a question, as one of the three remaining partitioners of the kindly evening newscast ge nre, do you think any of this splashed up against what we,000 do for a living first?

>> sure.

>> second, is it baked into our society?

>> yes on both counts. remember the old line those who say it ain't about the money it's about the money. it's about the money. it's the fact that, our bosses for example, have had to close down most of the foreign bureaus that you and i knew when we were young correspondents. what works about cable television is it's cheap and it makes a ton of money. there is nothing cheaper than a bunch of talking head. and the people who hire those talking head have discovered that the more partisan, the nastier they are, the bigger an audience they get. yes it has an impact on us. the only way it is ever going to change if the audience says you know something i am tired of it.

>> i was going to start a shouting match with you. we have to go to a commercial break. thank you very much for your reporting, ted koppel .