Researchers in Italy reviewed the IQ’s of fans of media tycoon and sometime politician Silvio Berlusconi trashy TV network and found people performed lower if they had started watching as children and remained frequent viewers.
America can lay claim to perfecting Trash TV, loosely defined as talk show television with little educational content and a focus on controversy and confrontation.
Morton Downey Jr. can be included among the early pioneers. Forgotten by many is that the role of his needed protagonist was playing by his protégé, Reverend Al Sharpton. Maury Povich might be added to the list including Sally Jesse Raphael, Jenny Jones, and the master of the art, Jerry Springer.
The pinnacle though may well have been a 1988 episode of Geraldo Rivera’s talk show in which he interviewed a gathering of skinheads and Nazi-supporters on stage seated alongside two black clergymen. After a harsh vocal confrontation over the holocaust a fistfight broke out, chairs were thrown, punches hit targets and Geraldo’s nose was broken.
The results of the study were published in American Economic Review.