It seems to me that the closest group of animals we are related to is herd animals by the behaviour displayed... Fear is used to drive the publics opinion/leaning on all sides of issues.
Here at least is one person copping to the medias role in driving the sheep into panic:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/ … 320028002/
Combine "If it bleeds, it leads" with the inherent desire of politicians to find a parade to get in front of and "do something" and the feedback cycle is obvious.