1. Interrupting and talking over people on-air
When I moved to the USA in 1994 for the first time, I tried briefly listening to talk radio and watching political programs on TV. Three things struck me about the medium immediately:
– the political views being espoused by the radio hosts and most of their callers would be regarded as a combination of completely barking mad and dangerous in the UK
– the radio hosts were not actually ever going to hold a dialogue with callers. They used callers’ questions or comments as a means of allowing them to repeat their messages, and basking in affirmation. Anybody who tried to call in to dispute the host’s viewpoint would be rapidly shuffled off the air, usually after the host had used the caller as a punchbag or punchline in some juvenile or intellectually risible volley of abuse.
– the hosts always talked over and interrupted guests. Hardly any question asked of a guest was permitted to be answered before the guest would interrupt. Sometimes the guest in turn would start interrupting. The nett effect was to feel that I was watching a re-creation of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from “Alice In Wonderland”
I have come to realize that, for authoritarian host broadcasters, interruption is a power play. They do it because they control the microphone. They also do it routinely to cut off views or responses that they don’t want to have to deal with. In other words, a classical approach to perceived dissent.
For TV, interruption in all directions is also a power play, and also a means of generating controversy in a medium that absolutely relies on it to, as they say in England, to put bums on seats. It also tends to elevate the questioner to the same level as the interviewee, since in an ideal interview the interviewee is doing most of the talking. Large-ego TV anchors don’t want that, unless they are temporarily playing the role of fawning sycophant, which some of them do from time to time.
I also noticed that your view on the rights and wrongs of interruptions almost entirely depends on whose side you are on. If an interviewer is interrupting somebody you disagree with, you are far more likely to rationalize the interruption as a good thing. The opposite viewpoint applies, of course, if the interviewee is on Your Team. So viewpoints about interruptions tend to align along partisan viewpoints and preferences.
I happen to have a different viewpoint, that interrupting is fundamentally discourteous, and not conducive to debate and discussion, and I would like to see a medium where people are, you know, allowed to finish something that they started saying. But there I go again, being all logical.
2. What will the losing side supporters say after an election?
The question came up today in this discussion on Lawyers Guns and Money.
What I have seen happen in the past is that many supporters of the loser spend time ranting and raving about how the result was fixed. Most of them go quiet after a while, but some suffer from a permanent inability to accept the reality. The condition was dubbed “derangement syndrome” many years ago, and the name does seem appropriate.
My worry is that derangement syndrome, if Donald Trump loses, will not be limited to whining and moaning. There are a lot of people out there right now who are not only emotionally invested in Donald Trump, they are angrily invested in Donald Trump. They see him as the Last Hope for America. Trump has been cunningly hinting that the system is being rigged against him for quite some time, and my fear is that some of his more volatile supporters may start acting out, either on election day, as they try to make sure that The Right Sort of People vote (and only The Right Sort of People), or after the election, as they decide to go on the rampage. I know how many people have guns and ammunition stockpiled ready for the Second American Revolution. There are some crazy people out there who live in echo chambers that peddle a toxic mix of conspiracy theorizing, dystopian “the end is nigh” predictions, and the idea that all government is bad, but the Federal government is even worse.
When formerly fervent supporters of a person or party decide that their support was a mistake, one thing you will almost never find them doing is uttering a mea culpa. “I made a mistake and voted for The Wrong Guys”, said nobody publicly, ever. (If you don’t believe me, try to think of all of the elected representatives or media figures that have apologized for the sleep-walk of the USA into Iraq in 2003. The list will be a short one).
When one of my ex brothers in law decided that George W Bush was screwing up the country around 2007, he suddenly completely forgot that he had been all gung-ho about voting for him in 2004. I ended up triggering a silence at a family gathering by reminding him of his enthusiastic support for Bush and the GOP in 2004. This cut across his sudden attack of amnesia. As a species, we are at all good at publicly admitting to making bad decisions. We end up hoping that people will not notice. It is such a powerful source of angst that I can think of at least one politician and one fringe SovCit grifter, both of whom changed their names to try and prevent people from finding out about Bad Stuff they did previously in their lives. No, that doesn’t work in the internet era.