Forcing fear

Thomas Atseff, Opinions editor

If you have ever watched CNN, msNBC, Fox News or any other mainstream news media program, you are constantly reminded that at any moment you may be killed in a terrorist attack. If you watch or read any of these networks, to you, ISIS is invading America every day, Russia is trying to take over the world and we are in the midst of another Cold War.

If you randomly flip to one of these channels, there’s a very good chance they are discussing terrorism or all of the constant danger we are in. Never mind that studies show that right now, in America, we are statistically safer than anyone has ever been in the history of our planet—the media wants you to think the opposite.

According to a conservative statistic from the Insurance Information Institute, you have about a 1 in 9.8 million chance of dying in a terrorist attack in America. Comparatively, the odds that you will die in an asteroid strike are about 1 in 250,000 to 1 in 500,000. Obviously, this is highly unlikely, and no one should leave the house being afraid of asteroids, but it is still nearly 50 times more likely than a terrorist attack. Wouldn’t it seem weird if you turned on the TV and CNN was discussing how we’re going to combat asteroids for an hour? Being killed by lighting is a 1 in 174,000 chance, being killed by a dog bite is 1 in 114,000. But one of the absolute biggest threats facing our country—ladders. The odds of dying by falling off of a ladder or scaffolding is 1 in 9,500. That is one thousand times more likely than dying in a terrorist attack, and yet we are led to believe that at any moment we may be killed by terrorists.

So why are we led to believe this? Fearmongering in the media has many causes and many very dangerous effects. There is a saying in journalism that says “if it bleeds, it leads,” implying that stories that scare and worry people get the most attention and the best ratings. Another, much more dangerous reason is that many mainstream media outlets have ties to the military industrial complex and weapons manufacturers; thus, their fear and warmongering produce profits for them.

This isn’t some conspiracy theory, it’s true. NBC’s parent company and owner General Electric designed, manufactured or supplied parts or maintenance for nearly every major weapon system used by the U.S. during the Gulf War. During just one year, 1989, General Electric had received close to $2 billion in military contracts related to systems that ended up being utilized for the Gulf War, according to Defense Daily International.

The military and terrorism aren’t non-issues, but they are covered to a much higher extent than is necessary. In the vice presidential debate on Oct. 4, over half of the debate was focused on the vice presidential candidates’ plans to defeat ISIS, combat terrorism and combat Russia. There were no questions on climate change, which endlessly plagues our planet, no questions on college student loan debt (it would take just 10 percent of the defense budget to send every single American student to college for free), no questions on other extremely important issues. Wouldn’t it seem weird if half of the debate was spent discussing the dangers of asteroids, or ladders? Don’t you think people would be concerned if we spent as much money fighting asteroids as we do on our military? ($582 billion this year).

The military and terrorism aren’t non-issues, but they are covered to a much higher extent than is necessary, and the fear mongering in the media only leads to more war, hostility, anxiety and, ironically, terror.