By Kristie Marcinczyk, USDR Contributor
With Super Bowl XLIX just days away, the controversy surrounding “Ballghazi” or “Deflate-gate” has only continued to intensify.
Press conferences were given. Locker room attendants’ bathroom visits were analyzed. The Columbia University physics department was called in. Most prominently, though, is the extensive media coverage and analysis determining whether or not the New England Patriots actually “cheated” their way to The Big Game.
Everyone from sportscasters, to Bill Nye (the science guy) has covered the story, offering their expert opinions on the exhaustibly debated so-called scandal.
As a casual sports fan myself, there is not much I don’t know about the story. Since the NFL news broke, it has been almost impossible to avoid— and I have yet to open a newspaper or log into Twitter without being bombarded by “Deflate-gate” drama.
That being said, I would personally conclude that the outcry will only result in higher ticket sales and Nielson ratings on game day. But in a controversy that seems to be consuming the mainstream media outlets, it is difficult not to wonder where the ‘real’ outrage is for actual scandals facing our nation. The lies and “cheating” that takes place in the political spectrum on a daily basis are hardly recognized as scandals, but more typically “politics as usual.”
Real scandals that actually affect our daily lives like the IRS auditing, Fast & Furious, Solyndra, Immigration, and Obamacare, were covered by the media to different degrees, but all equally lacked the appropriate outrage and concern from the general public.
Most recently standing is a situation involving the U.S. Army and their decision of disciplinary action against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who left his post in Afghanistan, and was captured and held by the Taliban for years before being exchanged for five detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
One would naturally assume that such a pressing issue would be recognized by newsreaders across the board, however, it has accumulated significantly less discussion. A common thread that seems to be heightening the receptiveness to national issues is the recent fashion of branding the scandal with a suffix.
Just as “-gate” grew out of the Watergate scandal during Richard Nixon’s presidency in 1972, “-ghazi” refers to another White House-related episode: the Obama administration’s response to the terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
The trend is but the latest iteration of “-ghazi” as a classification of nationwide scandal. The term briefly blossomed during New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s toils over his administration’s closing of traffic lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge in 2013.
While the Christie scandal took place in heat of his second Gubernatorial campaign, its’ implications had virtually no effect on residents outside the Garden State. In our Meme-happy society, though, news surrounding the scandal went viral and remained nationally relevant for weeks. (And even to this day) as Governor Christie has yet to rule out a 2016 presidential run.
Sadly, it doesn’t stop there— as scandal-suffixing has even extended to stories about celebrities. Last year, a case involving pop-star Justin Bieber allegedly egging a neighbor’s home was conveniently referred to by several media outlets as “Egg-gate.”
While scandals in general undoubtedly attract more readers than other news issues fit to print, they should not be weighed the same. The fact that these stories are all prominent due to their branding is something which journalists should be ashamed.
Determining the story’s audience, of course, contributes to factors in choosing a headline, but where should the line be drawn? Many modern journalists seem to be far more concerned about retweets and “likes,” rather than the quality of material they produce.
From discussions held on local bar stools to the lengths of social media messaging, the weight of awareness surrounding the NFL is clear: Americans’ priorities lean most heavily on issues that have little or no impact on their actual lives.
When it comes to “Deflate-gate” – we can all be taught a valuable lesson. How viral a story becomes does not reflect its’ actual importance.
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Kristie Marcinczyk is a politics, media, and culture writer. She has previously worked as a producer and booker at Fox News, Fox Business Network and TheBlaze, for both television and web platforms. Follow her on Twitter @kMarcinczyk.