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Tom Nichols Answers a Question. The Media Explodes.

Someone on Twitter asked people to state their most controversial food opinions. Author and professor Tom Nichols stated Indian food is terrible.

You’d have thought he tweeted out Mohammed is an imaginary instrument of propaganda by the way the internet reacted. The BBC, Russia Today, and other media outlets rushed to cover his opinion. Again, he was responding to a tweet asking for controversial food opinions. He had the audacity to apparently have an actually controversial opinion.

People offered up dissertations on Twitter as to why his particular opinion was actually bad compared to others. But really, all he did was answer the question.

This relates to the Rick Perry situation. Perry gave a pretty straightforward, orthodox Christian answer that God puts our leaders in authority — whether it be Barack Obama or Donald Trump. This is Protestant Christianity 101.

But the media chose to selectively edit Perry’s statement and suggest Perry meant everyone owes Trump allegiance because of his divine appointment. Perry never said that and did not imply it. You’d never know that from the press.

Both stories were pushed to generate outrage related clicks. They were designed to generate traffic to websites, not actually convey truth or advance the news. This is a serious problem now in the 21st century as news outlets generate ad dollars based on clicks from social media.

Study after study has shown hate clicks generate tons of traffic and that traffic, in turn, generates ad dollars.

If news outlets cannot figure out how to break the cycle of outrage on which their bottom lines are now premised, the situation is going to get much, much worse.

Polling show the media is less respected and less trusted than at any point in American history. Making the tweet of one man about Indian food an international story and selectively editing the Secretary of Energy to fuel controversy are only driving more people away from media trust.

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