Brave News World Of Linkmanship

The hardworking staff has been, well, working hard to keep up with the Tucson-shootings media rumpus, which continuously feeds off itself like some sort of artificial unintelligence.

Exhibit A: Sarah Palin’s idiotic “blood libel” accusation about criticism of her.

Exhibit B: MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz’s overblown charges that Fox News is engaging in violent rhetoric despite reported warnings by Fox News president Roger Ailes that network anchors should “tone it down.”

But that’s just the Circus Maximus stuff.

The real action is in the serial linkmanship the chin-strokerati are practicing.

[Official Campaign Outsider Wayback Machine Interlude: For just about the entire 20th Century, the media unit of value was the package (newspaper, newscast, album, etc.). In the digital 21st Century, the unit of value is the unit (newspaper story, broadcast report, song).  That makes web links the virtual currency of today’s media. (For charts ‘n’ stuff, see this 2006 New York piece on Linkology.)]

So, for instance, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes a loony piece about the “Climate of Hate” culminating in the Tucson shootings, and Charles Krauthammer hammers him in a column headlined, “Massacre, followed by libel:”

The origins of [Jared Lee] Loughner’s delusions are clear: mental illness. What are the origins of Krugman’s?

Or New York Times columnist David Brooks writes a reasonable piece about the news media’s tendency to attribute political motivations to public actions:

We have a news media that is psychologically ill informed but politically inflamed, so it naturally leans toward political explanations. We have a news media with a strong distaste for Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement, and this seemed like a golden opportunity to tarnish them. We have a segmented news media, so there is nobody in most newsrooms to stand apart from the prevailing assumptions. We have a news media market in which the rewards go to anybody who can stroke the audience’s pleasure buttons.

(In other words, anybody who can gather links faster than the competition.)

Cue prolix blogger Andrew Sullivan, who takes Brooks to task for ignoring what’s obvious to Sullivan:

David Brooks is astonished, sickened, appalled that an attempted assassination of a sitting congresswoman should be immediately regarded as something possibly … wait for it … political. In fact, Loughner must be seen in a context in which politics does not exist:

The evidence before us suggests that Loughner was locked in a world far removed from politics as we normally understand it.

So why, one has to ask, does this person with mental illness, carefully select for assassination an already targeted and demonized congresswoman, rather than, say, a supermarket, or a workplace, or a school? We don’t know precisely yet – but it sure is relevant to ask that question. Why not shoot up the animal shelter he was fired from? Or the classroom he was banished from? In fact, it is a kind of bizarre suppression to avoid the obviously political fact of the target Loughner selected.

And round and round they go – link upon link upon link.


Formerly known as journalism.

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16 Responses to Brave News World Of Linkmanship

  1. Curmudgeon says:

    When ever the discussion turns to links, one must always consider the missing ones.

    Is this it?

  2. Steve Stein says:

    John, why do you characterize Krugman’s column as “loony”? He wants to posit a connection between specifically eliminationist rhetoric (not “caustic remarks”, not “mockery”, but specific calls to violence) and the Tucson massacre. The connection isn’t proven (as yet) and may not indeed be there. But I certainly don’t see it as far-fetched to think it might be.

    Remember, there are cases where the connection is much clearer – Byron Williams, for example:

    “I would’ve never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there,” says this friend, Byron Williams. “And it was the things he did, it was the things he exposed, that blew my mind.”

    “I do enjoy Glenn Beck,” Williams also says, “and the reason why I enjoy that is because… no other channel will speak about the same things that he’s talking about, and if you go and investigate those things you’ll find out that they’re true.”

    • Curmudgeon says:

      Isn’t the loony line a function of where one stands in relation to it?

      It does not surprise that you are trying to draw the line where you see it to be.

      • Steve Stein says:

        That’s a cunningly phrased insult, but it isn’t a substantive answer.

        Where’s the line Krugman crossed?

      • Curmudgeon says:

        Not intended to be an insult, Steve, merely a recognition that you do not agree to my line as to where loony begins…and John’s…and I do not agree with yours.

        If you see that as an insult, however well crafted, so be it.

        Krugman? When he first crossed the Hudson to go to Princeton? (All scholars know that Harvard is the place to be.) Or when he accepted the Nobel Prize for work done and took it to be an award for the work he was to do?

      • Steve Stein says:

        Strike Two. I’ll ask a third time – where was the rhetorical line Krugman crossed that makes you agree with the characterization “loony”? You’re real good at avoidance.

        And as a Princeton townie I’ll take exception to the Harvard remark. Or maybe you don’t consider Einstein a “scholar” – there are plenty of other examples. The only thing wrong with Princeton is that it’s surrounded by New Jersey.

  3. Curmudgeon says:

    He started from incorrect premises and constructed from there as he does quite frequently.

    If you, as a Princeton native, object to the allusion to Harvard, how do you think the residents of New York, Philadelphia, New Haven, Providence, Hanover and Ithica might think?

    • Steve Stein says:

      Please lay out for me what you claim to be “false premises”.

      • Curmudgeon says:

        Lets put this one on the table. It is his first one.

        Insisting that because an incident has national (or international ) reverberations — like this does — that the event was caused by a national (or international) condition. Sounds 0h-so-reasonable until the incident is put under scrutiny, and then premise comes apart like piece of corn bread.

        It is a postulation that was a long over-reach and that over-reach reasonably can be seen to be for political reasons not analytical ones, given Klugmen’s strident acceptance of the liberal view. (Krugman’s arguments often start with assumptions that are debatable, at best.)

        Time and investigation here show a deranged individual acting on what appears to be a personal vendetta against Rep. Giffords for a perceived slight in a previous encounter.

        Krugman starts out on the wrong step and never makes the adjustment to get back to the right one. It is modus operandi for him.

      • Campaign Outsider says:

        All good now on Krugman? I figured I’d let you guys work it out – and you did! The very model of spirited (for the most part) but respectful public discourse.

      • Steve Stein says:

        Thank you for *finally* answering my question. There is more investigation to be done in this case, and I think the jury is still out on whether the “climate of hate” influenced this incident. We know more now than when Krugman wrote the piece, and we will know still more in the future. As I mentioned earlier, there have already been incidents of crazies who HAVE been influenced to commit mayhem by right-wing vitriol.

        So while Krugman may well be wrong in this premise, I think it’s overreach to label him “loony”.

      • Campaign Outsider says:

        All good now on Krugman? I figured I’d let you guys work it out – and you did! The very model of spirited but respectful public discourse.

  4. Curmudgeon says:

    As I noted before, our definitions of looney depend upon where we stand vis the line. As John used the definition in his first offering in this thread, I concur with that offering , and you do not, is it not reasonable to conclude that the term looney is fungible?

    Let me take this one step further now that I have your concurrence, Steve, that the basis for the Krugman’s assumption is at best premature. Does that make Krugman’s premise a mistake or an error?

    • Steve Stein says:

      If you and John thought Krugman’s column was not just wrong, but “loony”, I wonder how you see Charles Blow’s offering:

      Immediately after the news broke, the air became thick with conjecture, speculation and innuendo. There was a giddy, almost punch-drunk excitement on the left. The prophecy had been fulfilled: “words have consequences.”

      I see that as not just loony but outright bizarre. But no comment from John. Sigh.

      • Curmudgeon says:

        Consistency can be problematic.

      • Campaign Outsider says:

        I agree with you, Steve. Charles Blow(hard) was totally Lost in Space. Over all, there’s plenty of blame to go around here, and a lifetime’s worth of idiocy.

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