Shock Value

Tell Rupe what you want and he will deliver.


A survey released in January by the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Communication Policy found that Fox “shockumentary” shows were a wholly new category of intense violence. Reality-based specials such as “The World’s Most Dangerous Animals,” “When Animals Attack,” and “World’s Scariest Police Shootouts” represent the only type of network programming in which the level of violent content has increased during the past three years.

Meanwhile, in Murdoch’s own publications, the message is more upbeat. As Michael Starr gushed in the New York Post last February, “If you’re looking for TV’s scariest, deadliest thrills, Fox is ready to satisfy your craving–again….Tonight’s first special–‘World’s Scariest Police Chases 4’–includes clips of Arizona police locked in a wild, high-speed pursuit of a suspected carjacker….Fox has also showcased shock-specials such as ‘When Animals Attack’ (‘They’re big! They’re bad! And they’re biting back!’), ‘The World’s Deadliest Swarms,’ ‘Video Justice: Crime Caught on Tape,’ and ‘Prisoners Out of Control.'”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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