A conversation w/ Brian Rosenwald & Dannagal Goldthwaite Young!
Please join us for a discussion with
—author of TALK RADIO'S AMERICA:
HOW AN INDUSTRY TOOK OVER A POLITICAL PARTY THAT TOOK OVER THE UNITED STATES—
& Dannagal Goldthwaite Young
—author of IRONY AND OUTRAGE:
THE POLARIZED LANDSCAPE OF RAGE, FEAR, AND LAUGHTER IN THE UNITED STATES!
About TALK RADIO'S AMERICA
The co-creator of the Washington Post’s “Made by History” blog reveals how the rise of conservative talk radio gave us a Republican Party incapable of governing and paved the way for Donald Trump.
America’s long road to the Trump presidency began on August 1, 1988, when, desperate for content to save AM radio, top media executives stumbled on a new format that would turn the political world upside down. They little imagined that in the coming years their brainchild would polarize the country and make it nearly impossible to govern. Rush Limbaugh, an enormously talented former disc jockey—opinionated, brash, and unapologetically conservative—pioneered a pathbreaking infotainment program that captured the hearts of an audience no media executive knew existed. Limbaugh’s listeners yearned for a champion to punch back against those maligning their values. Within a decade, this format would grow from fifty-nine stations to over one thousand, keeping millions of Americans company as they commuted, worked, and shouted back at their radios. The concept pioneered by Limbaugh was quickly copied by cable news and digital media.
Radio hosts form a deep bond with their audience, which gives them enormous political power. Unlike elected representatives, however, they must entertain their audience or watch their ratings fall. Talk radio boosted the Republican agenda in the 1990s, but two decades later, escalation in the battle for the airwaves pushed hosts toward ever more conservative, outrageous, and hyperbolic content.
Donald Trump borrowed conservative radio hosts’ playbook and gave Republican base voters the kind of pugnacious candidate they had been demanding for decades. By 2016, a political force no one intended to create had completely transformed American politics.
About IRONY AND OUTRAGE
For almost a decade, journalists and pundits have been asking why we don't see successful examples of political satire from conservatives or of opinion talk radio from liberals. This book turns that question on its head to argue that opinion talk is the political satire of the right and political satire is the opinion programming of the left. They look and feel like two different animals because their audiences are literally, two different animals.
In Irony and Outrage, political and media psychologist Dannagal Goldthwaite Young explores the aesthetics, underlying logics, and histories of these two seemingly distinct genres, making the case that they should be thought of as the logical extensions of the psychology of the left and right, respectively. One genre is guided by ambiguity, play, deliberation, and openness, while the other is guided by certainty, vigilance, instinct, and boundaries. While the audiences for Sean Hannity and John Oliver come from opposing political ideologies, both are high in political interest, knowledge, and engagement, and both lack faith in many of our core democratic institutions. Young argues that the roles that these two genres play for their viewers are strikingly similar: galvanizing the opinion of the left or the right, mobilizing citizens around certain causes, and expressing a frustration with traditional news coverage while offering alternative sources of information and meaning. One key way in which they differ, however, concludes Young, is in their capacity to be exploited by special interests and political elites.
Drawing on decades of research on political and media psychology and media effects, as well as historical accounts and interviews with comedians and comedy writers, Young unpacks satire's liberal "bias" and juxtaposes it with that of outrage's conservative "bias." She details how traits like tolerance for ambiguity and the motivation to engage with complex ideas shape our preferences for art, music, and literature; and how those same traits correlate with political ideology. In turn, she illustrates how these traits help explain why liberals and conservatives vary in the genres of political information they prefer to create and consume.
BRIAN ROWENWALD is Coeditor-in-Chief of “Made by History,” a daily Washington Post history section, and a historical consultant for the Slate podcast Whistlestop. He has written for the Washington Post, CNN.com, Politico, and The Week, among others, and has discussed contemporary politics on CNN, NPR, and the Sirius XM Radio channel POTUS: Politics of the United States. Rosenwald is Scholar in Residence at the Partnership for Effective Public Administration and Leadership Ethics (PEPALE) program at the University of Pennsylvania.
DANNAGAL GOLDTHWAITE YOUNG is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Delaware and the Center for Political Communication, a Distinguished Research Fellow with the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and member of the National Institute for Civil Discourse Research Network. Her research on the psychology, content, and effects of political entertainment has been widely published in academic journals and media outlets, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, Variety, and National Public Radio. She has also been an improvisational comedian with ComedySportz Philadelphia since 1999, and is the creator and host of Dr. Young Unpacks, a playful deep dive into the psychology of media, politics, and pop culture.
Monday, November 4, 2019 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Penn Book Center
130 S. 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harvard University Press - October 15th, 2019
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - December 2nd, 2019