The Use Of Fear By Talk Show Hosts To Attract Audiences Term Paper Samples

Type of paper: Term Paper

Topic: Fear, Audience, Public Relations, People, Conversation, Dilemma, United States, Media

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/03


Fear is very strong human emotion that has been exploited by talk shows in trying to attract audiences (Danah, 2012). Fear is a representation of something ideal as though it was real and threatening to human existence. When people are afraid, they must react either to the imaginary or unimaginary threat. Talk shows have vested interest in their audiences- they want their numbers and they are able to achieve it using fear. They use fear to get their attention. Their words are usually selected and they reveal all the voices of the people involved in the host. In the process of using the freedom of speech and association, they end up instilling fear in the audiences. People fear slander, bad words, bad language, and the shows use their fear to advance their marketing ideals. Basically, they use fear to market themselves and build popularity. They do not care about human feelings, but rather thrive on fear with the aim of getting the numbers. They use controversy in perpetrating fear to a level that people get to fear even the normal. In most cases, even genuine concerns are turned using controversy and the public reacts in fear and supports the show’s agenda either willingly or unwillingly. The paper uses the Rush Limbaugh’s show and other shows to illustrate the use of controversial topics to illustrate the use of fear in gaining popularity.
Rush Limbaugh’s show has proven popular in the past years partially due to the use of their controversial topics and the use of language to instill fear in the audiences. America, the land of the free is yet to think of itself as a nation where talk show hosts such as Rush use fear to make the audience captives. In the age of the internet, all information is free and put in the sundry. People have no limits and the freedom of expression, as a civil liberty has been stretched to the limit. Organizations and the media in particular depend on controversy and the fear instilled by their words to attract and grow audiences (Danah, 2012). As such one can say that the American citizenry has been “brainwashed” by the media using fear to a level that they believe and worship what the radio and talk show hosts say.
At one point, Rush claims that the former United States Secretary, Hillary Clinton is a member and supporter of Islamic Sisterhood. Rush informs his audience that Hillary is an ardent supporter of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and she was very happy ate the election of Mohammed Morsi in 2013. In the ensuing time of the talk show, people called in expressing the fears against Islamaphobia and the role of Hillary Clinton in Egypt’s elections (Americans against Islamaphobia, 2015). Rush uses fear to sell his concerns and anxieties to the audience. It is fear-mongering that wins the day and he uses it well to provoke the same reaction in people as he wins over the numbers of the audience.
Rush uses fear-producing frames and exaggeration to confirm that Hillary belongs to Islamic Sisterhood. His dirty messages are designed to provoke the attention of the audience. He crafts his controversial messages well in a way that he draws and maintains his audience. Suspense and segment cliffhangers are also used to invoke fear, In fact Rush can build something small into a mountain of fear such that one is unable to get the right thing and the truth. Rush uses unfounded conflict and claims to gain support from his audience. It is true that human time and attention has been limited given the challenges of the 21st century. Therefore, talk shows uses fear to get the attention of the audience. The topics undermine the democracy of the audience. In a capitalist-centered nation, the journalist just like any other professional uses anything to get the profits. In the end, one can describe Rush as a journalist who uses narratives and personal fears to gain public attention and win over advertisers. His advertising space sells in accordance to the number of people in the audience. The ethics of fear get justified in increasing attention.
In the 21st century, the United States leadership has proven that the citizens are targets of terrorists. Given 9/11, Islamic State, Rush exonerates the fear of the audience into something else. He crowns their fears with unfounded claims. In castigating Islamist, he claims that it is a fifth column that the United States has allowed. Rush promotes the fear of Islam. He knows that with the fear, Muslims will avoid getting in the United States. Rush does not consider that Islam is a religion where there could be extremists, but he generalizes the religion and uses it to create fear. He makes his audience feel like they will die in the next minute if they do not “take care of themselves” against the enemy at home. Allen West, a former Congressman is also a keen contributor to Rush Limbaugh’s shows. Allen contributes more on issues that serve to create Islamaphobia (Feldman, 2015). In more ways than one, the freedom of speech will kill the freedom of the American citizen.
In another show, Rush criticizes Obamacare. He uses suspense and many questions to make the audience feel that they are not going to survive. His questions raise fear and make the audience uncertain about the leadership of the United States and even the healthcare agenda. In fact, Rush turns even a noble idea into a scarecrow that will haunt every listener. In his show against Obamacare, RUSH: If the court rules that those subsidies are illegal, then what happens?  See, the Regime is very, very I think the Regime's looking forward to this.  The Regime is hoping that those subsidies are taken away, because you know what will happen next?  Do you know what happens then?  If there's not a plan in place, what will happen next is the Republicans will be attacked for having caused this!” (Rush, 2015). In his talk show, he insinuates that the Republicans will be attacked, the people will be helpless, their subsidies will be taken away and so many things that build fear in his listeners.
In the next show, in March 2012, Rush called Sandra Fluke a slut (Amy, 2012). He used bad language an disrespected his audience with the intent of showing the people that he can talk anything and get away with it. Premiere Networks were outrages and pulled their advertisements off the show while others maintained their advertisement which shows their support for the host. Rush was not moved during the event. Premiere cited that their companies which gives them adverts did not want their advertisements to be run during an offensive and controversial show that has little regard to the public respect and integrity (Amy, 2012). In examining the language that Rush used, he used the word to call for the attention of the public. He wanted to instill fear into the people that he can call them anything and get away with it. He can use any word to earn his cash and standing in the Talk Show industry. Talk show hosts such as Rush have shown that they cannot be pulled down even by sponsors. One will wonder whether the main channels such as Fox News do not feel intimidated by their employees.
In conclusion, Rush Limbaugh’s show has been controversial and he has elicited fear among many people. It is like the public is bent on listening to him. One thing that one cannot help noticing is that in America, people are tamed by fear. They are unable to set themselves free. In the coming years, it will be good to see how the people will maybe try to unravel their fears and live in the real world. One wonders whether the citizens notice that they are being used by the journalists in their capitalist gains. They have become the slaves of fear. Modern journalism has not been interpreted through the lens of fear. The world of fear and controversy will cripple the listeners’ lives as the talk shows gain popularity. People may not be in a position of rejecting unfounded claims as witnesses in Rush’s shows. The impact will be acting and living while being driven by fear.


Amy, B. (2012). Rush Limbaugh’s ‘Slut’ Comment Controversy Proves It Has Staying Power. ABCNEWS. Retrieved from limbaughs-slut-comment-controversy-proves-it-has-staying-power/
Rush, L. (2015). What the Obamacare Supreme Court Case Could Mean. Retrieved from se_could_mean
Americans Against Islamaphobia. (2015). Rush Limbaugh: Hillary Clinton Tied to “Muslim Sisterhood”. Retrieved from limbaugh-hillary-clinton-tied-to-muslim-sisterhood/
Feldman, J. (2015). Report Condemns Limbaugh, Fox News, Conservative Media as ‘Islamophobia Network’. Retrieved from condemns-limbaugh- fox-news-conservative-media-as-islamophobia-network/
Danah, B. (2012). The ethics of fear and how it undermines an informed citizenry. Retrieved from citizenry-as-media-struggles-with-attention-economy/

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