I teach at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and never have I been more embarrassed by the role of the News Media than watching them fan the flames of Ebola Panic in the last three weeks. Professor Roxanne Silver of University of California Irvine has been studying the crowd psychology of panics.
Ms. Silver studied and wrote about people who heavily consumed media after the bombings at the Boston Marathon in 2013 and “what we found is that individuals who were exposed to a great deal of media within the first week reported more acute stress than did people who were actually at the marathon.”
Much of the Ebola hysteria can be traced back to one man, Matt Drudge, who single-handedly has amped up the fear in both the political class and the mass media the follow him. Take this little bon bon posted last week on Drudge.
Drudge has a simple plan, which is that right wing politics works best in a climate of fear. This is where George Bush tricked us into invading Iraq and for Drudge Ebola is the last nail in the coffin of immigration reform.
In a few weeks when the Ebola scare is all over in America, we will look back at this moment and ask, “what were we thinking?”. But it’s not enough to just blame Matt Drudge. Every TV news producer in America is codependent with the Matt Drudge’s of the world. We all know that Drudge is a scummy little propagandist, but what excuse does Jeff Zucker at CNN have?