Here is a quiz:
Q: Which came first, tabloid TV news or tabloid newspapers?
A: Tabloid newspapers.
As you stand in line at the check out counter at your favorite supermarket, even if you can’t stand them, you can’t help but notice the shouting headlines on the front page of the tabloids. In the 1960’s, it was Burton and Taylor, and then maybe lurid tales inside the Nixon White House, all the dirt on Burt and Loni that you could take in, what’s Jackie O up to, and then Brad and Angelina.
Today, take your pick – everyone is ‘fair’ game…
If the attacks on the well-known or well-to-do aren’t enough for you, there are also stories about miracle diets, alien visitors, medical breakthroughs, Biden’s ice cream choices, chainsaw massacres, and little known stories about the Pope.
“Come on,” you say, “no one with intelligence reads these.” Yet, the circulation and sales figures greatly belie your disbelief. The unreality industry in America, aided and abetted by the Internet, is alive and well and has infected the world.
Almost No One is Spared
No politician is safe anymore, certainly no celebrity, unless they are Democrats. No statesman, no rock star, no athlete is free from the vicious slings and arrows of public fortune. And by implication, neither are you.
If the truth about things all around you is constantly undermined, you might start to question basic human values that have been intact since the societies first formed.
When I’m in check out lines, I routinely ask cashiers why they carry publications with such lurid headlines, in full view of children and other gentle creatures. No one seems to know. One of them responded that the tabloids probably pay a lot of money to be placed in such a prominent position.
Unfortunately, today the unreality spread by tabloid news pales by comparison to that spread by the supposedly ‘legitimate press,’ blogs, Twitter, search engines, ‘fact checkers’ and everywhere in between.