Vol. 2, Issue 27, July 13, 2004
Hyperbole up One Million Percent, Say Experts
The use of hyperbole in American media has increased an astonishing one million percent in the past five years, say media experts, and there is no sign that the trend will abate anytime soon.
"In the late nineties, people were saying that the media had already gone too far in its sensationalism," said Robert Kubey, director for the Center for Media Studies at Rutgers University. "But since then it's gotten even worse. Not to be alarmist, but this is the worst downturn in media quality I've ever seen in my life."
The Center has released a report alleging that virtually all television news now being broadcast is completely exaggerated and/or inaccurate, and that even shows aired immediately before or after the news have been subject to increasing sensationalism and hype.
"The networks have packed in so much drama and hyperbole into the news that they are having to let some spill over into nearby programming," warned Kubey. "While our study didn't examine possible health effects, I think this could well be fatal to children and the elderly, who should consequently stay away from the news at all times."
The hyperbole has been fanned to unprecedented heights in part due to the war in Iraq, where media coverage was highly prevalent and highly controlled by both sides. For many analysts, new peaks were hit during the war, when Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf was describing sweeping Iraqi triumphs, including counterstrikes that allegedly left parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio in ruins, while Fox News was describing the complete destruction of Baghdad, with President Bush personally dropping nuclear bombs on each of Saddam's palaces on four successive days in 2003.
"It's really just a verbal reflection of the American drive to super-size everything," said media analyst Paulie Grasso. "We drive eight-ton SUVs, drinking quart-sized cups of coffee, following the record-breaking achievements of steroid-enhanced athletes who can bench-press a moose. We are living large, and our language needs to keep pace. Only superlatives will do at this point."
Mainstream media outlets leapt to condemn the Rutgers report, declaring it patently false and legally actionable. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's spokeman in New York, Howard Rubenstein, held a press conference to announce a record-breaking lawsuit in response.
"This irresponsible study could well lead to the end of Western civilization as we know it," stated a grim Rubenstein. "Conservatively, we estimate the damage done to our credibility could run into billions of dollars and we are suing Rutgers University accordingly." Analysts speculate that such a lawsuit could spell the end of independent academic research in the United States, and a possible 100% drop in literacy over a five-year period.
The White House has taken a somewhat ambiguous stand on the issue. The President, when asked what he thought of all the hyperbolic excess, simply shook his head sadly.
"I always said giving out hyperbolic needles was no solution to America's drug problem," he said. "It's sad that it took a study like this to make people see the truth."