Super Mad at Everything All the Time
Political Media and Our National Anger
$29.99 | £22.99 | €24.99 | Softcover | 978-3-030-06130-2
The roots of American rage: New book reveals how cynicism has fuelled a fire of fury that will be hard to put out
“Professor Dagnes has written an essential guide for anyone interested in understanding the polarized media landscape in the age of Trump.”
Howard Polskin, President, Founder & Chief Curator, TheRighting
“Super Mad at Everything All the Time expertly delineates the deep political divisions in the country. Dr. Dagnes provides a clear and compelling examination of the history of the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ that have brought us to this point in our political and media discourse.”
Danilo Yanich, Professor, Biden School of Public Policy & Administration, University of Delaware
Americans are angry and there are vested interests in keeping them that way. In her new book, Super Mad at Everything All the Time, Alison Dagnes charts the creation of the outrage machine.
Today’s hostility toward intellectuals, the media and the government did not happen overnight. After fifty years of being told the government is bad and the media are biased, the American public finally believes it. As distrust in political institutions grew, the media also grew dramatically and found new ways to engage an audience.
“The most successful media outlets have perfected their ability to attract and keep an audience by validating discontent and fears,” says Dagnes. “In doing so, they advance our anger further, but the blame also falls to the public who buy into the rage, perpetuating the cycle with ratings and clicks.”
Dagnes experienced a Damascene moment at her teenage daughter’s volleyball practice. Subjected to an expletive-laden diatribe from a fellow parent about what was wrong with America and how to fix it, she realized that a segment of the country was getting its news from some place outside her own filter bubble. To educate herself on what was going on, she interviewed think tank leaders, communications directors, journalists and academics.
She discovered a relatively small but powerful right-wing media circle. While mainstream media outlets compete with each other to break news, often uncovering difficult truths, the mission of the right-wing media is to support conservative ideals and to slam those they oppose. The mainstream media is vast and contains disparate voices, while the right-wing media circle is united in its purpose.
“The right-wing media circle encapsulates resentment. Much of the content is not journalism in the classic sense, but is considered ‘news’ to a segment of the population who has no time for any other media source because they simply do not trust them,” she says.
She concludes that there are now two sets of truths in American politics, making it impossible to find common ground. However, she sees hope that by understanding the reasons we grew divisive, we can try to unite, and stop being super mad at everything all the time.
About the author
Alison Dagnes is Professor of Political Science at Shippensburg University. She is the author of A Conservative Walks Into a Bar: The Politics of Political Humor (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and Politics on Demand: The Effects of 24 Hour News on American Politics. She is a former C-SPAN producer and is frequently interviewed in the national and international press about American politics and political media.
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Rebecca Krahenbuhl – Communications Manager, Palgrave Macmillan
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