Politics And Government in Global Perspective
Even as a massive financial crisis descended upon the United States and other nations of the world in the autumn of 2008 and Congress approved massive government bailouts of billions of dollars, media audiences were drawn to pseudo-news programs and political comedy on television (rather than mainstream media) to learn about the consequences of the collapse of the housing bubble, widespread mortgage defaults, massive losses by financial institutions, and just how expensive the government bailouts might be for taxpayers and others. And these media audiences were not alone. In recent years, more television viewers have channel-checked away from network news broadcasts and late-night entertainment to watch satirical "fake news" shows such as Jon Stewart's TIle Daily Show and The Colbert Report, both of which are broadcast on cable television's Comedy Central. For many individuals. these satirical programs have become an important
source of news, and studies conducted at Indiana University and elsewhere have concluded that these programs are typically as substantive in their political coverage as the broadcast television networks' nightly newscasts are (see Fox, Koleen, and Sahin, 2007). TIle extent to which television entertainment and "hard news" have become blurred is related to the extent to which our major social institutions of politics and the economy are both reflective of and influenced by a mass media that constitute yet another powerful social institution in our society and around the world. In. twenty-first-century America, the subject of this chapter-the issue of politics and government in global perspective-is a hot topic for concerned people because we live in an age of discord regarding many decisions that have been made by our country's political and business leaders. Sociologists are concerned about how the social institutions of politics and the economy operate and how the decisions made in these social arenas affect people's everyday lives. In this chapter, we discuss the intertwining nature of contemporary polities, government, and the media. Before reading on, test your knowledge of the media.