Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to members of the media before a campaign event at King's Christian Bookstore in Boone, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Star Wars, Click Bait Dependent Journalism, and Ted Cruz Spanking His Child

The other day, I linked to this review of a Huffington Post story about Star Wars. In it was this gem that sums up so much journalism in America today:

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve grown exhausted with the horsesh*t, hater culture that online, millennial ‘journalists’ use to click-bait their way to some sort of self-perceived intellectual high ground. Hate first. Don’t bother asking questions later.

That sums up not just popculture journalism, but political journalism too. Take the Politico’s story on Ted Cruz’s Benghazi remarks.

Any journalist worth his salt would report on Ted Cruz’s statement, including this part:

“You know, I’ll tell you, in my house, if my daughter Catherine, the 5-year-old, says something she knows to be false, she gets a spanking,” he said. “Well, in America, the voters have a way of administering a spanking.”

The problem is not the statement.

The problem is that journalists today depend on clickbait headlines to standout from the pack. They need to drive traffic and the traffic comes from the headline, not the story. So the headline must be salacious enough to drive traffic.

And it’s Ted Cruz. The guys in Washington hate Ted Cruz. There are more there who hate him than don’t hate him. So if you want to stay on good terms with the majority, blowing up Ted Cruz with a clickbait headline is going to get you a few “attaboys” along the way.

Thus a headline about Ted Cruz’s reaction to Benghazi and Hillary Clinton turns into “Asked about Benghazi, Cruz talks about spanking daughter.”

It drives traffic through clickbait and is subtly designed to make Ted Cruz look more interesting in bragging about hitting his kids than Hillary Clinton.

It’s the perfect headline for a Washington circle of jerks who love to hate.

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Erick Erickson

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