Riffing on the recent news that Jerry Springer is ceasing his violence-prone TV show after some 4,000 episodes, Greg Gutfeld of the Fox News Channel joked that, nowadays in our contentious political culture, “every day is the Jerry Springer Show.”
Gutfeld, in the monologue for his own program on July 7, went on to put that joke in a context echoing Pope Francis’ message for the 2018 World Communications Day (at least a little, if you take out the off-color language and humorous hyperlinks). He suggested that our society work harder at understanding and managing its contention.
“Politics always causes friction,” Gutfeld pointed out. “We just have more places to see it,” such as round-the-clock cable news and social media which seem to hold captive our thoughts and conversations. “We get it. The country is divided. But that’s actually good: It’s better to have two sides than one.”
He acknowledged that we see more friction because journalists’ cameras are attracted to it. Among news consumers, annoyance comes naturally because we think we’re right and the people who disagree with us think they’re right.
“We should admit that we see things through different filters” and temper our own discussions with politeness, compromise, and forgiveness, Gutfeld said. You can hear the noteworthy monologist say it in this video. He called for a “conservative peace movement” where those toward the right on the political spectrum proactively “take the high ground.”
This proposal might have been directed more toward the consumers of media content than toward the generators of it–after all, a lack of friction in the world could translate into a lack of viewers for Fox and all broadcasters.
But, as Gutfeld knows, and as Pope Francis pointed out in the message (plus accompanying prayer for journalism) he officially released on May 13, the line between producers and consumers in today’s information world is practically invisible. There are millions of self-publishers. Alas, I’m one of them.
All along the media spectrum, and the political spectrum, we do need to collaborate in a movement informed by the pope’s call for “a journalism of peace.” Cheers for Gutfeld–and perhaps for Springer!–as they contribute in different ways to this movement, which can benefit from the pope’s paraphrase of the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi.
That’s the widely honored prayer which, in both its original and paraphrased forms, envisions all of us as “instruments of peace.”
The notes of wisdom in Gutfeld’s monologue made a sweet sound.
(With this post, I am beginning an additional blog at this site–intended as an ongoing expansion of the reflections in my book, When Headlines Hurt: Do We Have a Prayer? — The Pope’s Words of Hope for Journalism. Find the blog as part of the main navbar at OnWord.net.)