Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thoughtful YELLING

Potent Discourse

“[M]uch of the message among Republicans last year, as they sought to exploit the Tea Party phenomenon, centered — like the Tea Party moniker itself — on this imagery of armed revolution. Popular spokespeople … routinely drop words like ‘tyranny’ and ‘socialism’ when describing the president and his allies, as if blind to the idea that Americans legitimately faced with either enemy would almost certainly take up arms. It’s not that such leaders are necessarily trying to incite violence or hysteria; in fact, they’re not. It’s more that they are so caught up in a culture of hyperbole, so amused with their own verbal flourishes and the ensuing applause, that — like the bloggers and TV hosts to which they cater — they seem to lose their hold on the power of words.”
—Matt Bai, reporter, “A Turning Point in the Discourse, but in Which Direction?” The New York Times, Jan. 8, 2011

• Editorial Comment: I say what I mean and I mean what I say.

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  1. Ah yes, because Matt Bai has a firm hold on the "power of words." Personally, I'm pretty fed up with his "sensible moderate," "both sides do it," lazy false equivalence crap which passes for political reporting in this country these days...

  2. "It’s not that such leaders are necessarily trying to incite violence or hysteria; in fact, they’re not."

    Whether or not inciting violence is their intent, we have plenty of evidence to show that periodically violence is the outcome.

    I agree also with Shane above, there is no equivalence in the rhetoric of the last few decades; the left simply does not practice violent imagery and invocations of revolution with nearly the same frequency, depth, or official sanction as on the right.

  3. Perhaps Bai mentions it elsewhere in the article, but I suspect the primary motivation of those whose rants resonate with large audiences is commercial. It pays to simplify the world and demonize those at least a segment of the public fears or loathes.

  4. RE: John. There is certainly a huge commercial reward. But I would not rank that as the sole motivation: demagoguery often leads to electoral success and also serves other political purposes - having a noisy, bellicose and occasionally violent army of followers at your beck and call can be very useful from everything from driving the coverage/framing to intimidating your opposition (and the media).

  5. you know, I really feel like Today's WORD helps keep me sane. surrounded by so much insanity, I really need your daily email to remind me that there IS sanity out there....! thanks!

  6. Although the political advantages are and have been obvious, I'm not sure that I can subscribe wholly to a conspiracy model for the media ranting (although political demagoguery is another matter--this coming from someone who lives in a state that's adopting the first official State Gun in the nation...). I'm with John: The media rants are either commercially inspired or (more likely) these guys get themselves wound up and they just like to hear themselves, and they can't live without the attention from unquestioning sheep. Hear hear!!!

  7. And, Teri: How can you use a word like "sanity" in the context of those photos of Ailes and Olbermann...? Dissonance!

  8. Conspiracy? Well, it seems clear to me that some of the owners of conservative media properties are unapologetically ideological and not shy about pursuing agendas of economic and partisan interest. If that's what you mean.

    Are suggesting that Murdoch and Ailes don't consider their own political agendas in running their companies? I do believe that it is hard to differentiate the political from the commercial from the ideological with those guys. And I also believe that Fox News is very self consciously run as a partisan political business.

    So while commercial concerns might trump in the long run, I don't think these guys view the threads as separable. In the meantime, Fox keeps Glen Beck on board not just for the ratings, but because they believe that Beck's followers help, for instance, to make it harder to pursue media or corporate reform.

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