We see stories in the media about ordinary people doing or saying something so unforgivable that they are “cancelled”. The attacks on social networks stir up so much hatred and public opinion deems their sins too great to be redeemed.
Meanwhile, politicians and Hollywood celebrities seem to be getting passes for everything, and we’re not blinking.
Welcome to the age of shamelessness.
It’s disappointing that our society often looks the other way when Hollywood stars misbehave, but it’s inexcusable that so many of our elected legislators do the same without consequence.
Yes, there are cases where a legislator does or says something career-ending, such as in the cases of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rep. Trent Frank (R-Arizona), all of which have the two resigned separately amid allegations. of sexual harassment. But these cases are few and far between.
Gone are the days when it was considered embarrassing to be caught lying in politics. Now it’s on the agenda. In the past, if you said things that were obviously falseyour reputation taken a big hit, regardless of your political party. No more.
Actions that just a decade ago would have spelled the end of a political career no longer even warrant footnotes. In fact, the more controversy politicians cause, the faster contributions flow into their re-election funds.
The result is that a number of members of Congress are actually spending more time on social media. stir up outrage than working on substantive issues important to their constituents. It happens in both parts, and you see it all day, every day.
What is most alarming is that our politicians are a symptom of a societal problem. They are a reflection, a mirror held up to American society. What we see should terrify us.
The system we have now rewards the alienated fringe, instead of punishing it. The loudest mouths dominate the national agenda and news feeds – even if they have the least political clout
Time and time again, the the media take the bait. While the stated goal may be to hold these loudmouths accountable for their words and actions, the unintended consequence is to amplify their outrageous rhetoric and encourage further bad behavior.
Recorded lawmakers making outrageous claims, supporting conspiracy theories, fabricating narratives or lying have become the norm.
The result is a endless cycle of vitriol where attention-seeking Senators and House members say and do crazy things in an effort to get media coverage. Meanwhile, the press legitimizes and propels their goofy antics even further by covering them up and making them newsworthy.
Let’s face it: the boring politics buffs who are actually involved in the hard work of legislating don’t make good television, nor do they provide click-worthy fodder for social media.
Instead, it’s the politicians who keep doing and saying the craziest things that reap the rewards in the form of media coverage and campaign donations from staunch supporters.
This cycle of inflated prestige and notoriety for largely ineffectual backbenchers will continue to tumble until we simply start ignoring them. Until the mainstream media focused more on the things that really matter than on cynical opportunists looking for self-promotion and self-interest. Until then, we’ll have more of the same.
Evan Nierman is CEO of a crisis PR firm red banyan tree and author of “Crisis Averted: PR Strategies to Protect Your Reputation and the Bottom Line”.