Once you sacrifice respect for ratings,
you can never get it back.

Why is it that we trust and respect Oprah, Larry King, Anderson Cooper and David Gergen and not Dr. Laura, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly?

A highly respected psychoanalyst of the past century, Wilfred Bion, said that the purest (and best) communication is to listen without memory or desire.  By that I think he meant that when you listen with memory, you have a past personal agenda that you are trying to plug someone into; when you listen with desire, you have a future personal agenda that you are trying to plug them into.  But in neither case are you listening to their agenda.


The purest form of listening is to listen without memory or desire.
- Wilfred Bion (1897-1979)

Oprah, Larry King, Anderson Cooper and David Gergen listen with no other agenda other than to deeply and correctly understand what others are saying and to make that understandable to their audiences. On the other hand, Dr. Laura, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly listen with a personal agenda of using the others as fodder to extend their own sensationalistic and provocative personal agendas.

I think Oprah, Larry King, Anderson Cooper and David Gergen speak from the more evolved part of our personality that is curious about human nature to satisfy a desire to understand it better.  On the other hand Dr. Laura, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have chosen to speak from the primitive part of our personality that is voyeuristic and enjoys provoking and watching others debase and humiliate themselves and gets off on laughing at others and takes pleasure in feelings superior to people who make idiots out of themselves.  I think when we are coming from that part of our personality, most decent people may have a good laugh at others’ expense when we watch their stupid antics, but instead of feeling a lasting sense of superiority may feel instead a sense of embarrassment at ourselves. Because the lasting effect of that is to lose respect for ourselves, I think we also lose respect for the people who are bent on provoking us to come from our darker side.

You may remember that once upon a time Oprah was heading down the Jerry Springer road and then something happened.  She discovered that she was out of line with her core values and integrity and taking a big risk at the time, she trashed doing trash TV.  Even though she had more than enough character and courage to do that, it was unclear whether she would have enough leverage to pull it off and survive.  Happily for her and us we know the results.

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