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April 12, 2009

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I appreciate Brendan's willingness to criticize liberal pundits. I would quibble with his lumping of Hannity and O'Reilly. Hannity is obnoxious because he's a conservative hack who more-or-less brainlessly follows the conservative line on every issue. O'Reilly is obnoxious because of his arrogance. However, he does not always take a conservative position, and many of his discussions do present fair and useful analyses of issues.

I don't necessarily buy the idea that only partisans can succeed on cable news. I haven't watched Fox News's Special Report since Bret Baier replaced Brit Hume. However, when I used to watch it, it did focus on the important items and often presented good discussions by experts. Their in-house panel was uneven, but they didn't descend to telling dirty jokes.

Yea, Brendan......

Saint Paul knew that he "profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers." (Galatians 1:13-14) Social psychologists will tell you that people who take extreme positions are thought of as more knowledgeable.

Or, as Holly Golightly puts it in Breakfast at Tiffany's, "It's useful being top banana in the shock department."

Maddow's "teabagging" joke segment viewed like an audition for The Daily Show, especially with Cox's drily catty retorts. Maybe she's trying to compete with DL Hughley's show on CNN.

David: even if you're right about O'Reilly occasionally presenting "fair and useful analyses", when he's wrong, he's abominably and cruelly wrong, almost on a Limbaughesque level. O'Reilly isn't merely arrogant, he's a bully, like Olbermann at his worst, but nowhere near as polished.

Both Maddow and Olbermann have repeatedly criticized the Obama administration.

Brendan, you are engaging in profoundly dishonest false equivalency to put either of those two in the same boat with Murdoch's thugs Hannity and O'Reilly.

While Hannity literally is keeping an enemies list, O'Reilly is sending out stalkers to harass anyone that displeases him. And Murdoch's national network has given the equivalent of millions of free advertising dollars to the corporate lobbyist backed astroturfing "Tea Bag" party.

On the other hand, both Maddow and Olbermann are cracker jack researchers and manage to synthesize more pertinent facts in a five minute segment than Murdoch's FOX mouthpieces do in a 168 hour week.

As for the "teabagger" "meme" the fact that the right wing didn't know the connotations of "teabagging the WhiteHouse"* is right up there with the fact that they clearly don't know that America's "Tea Party" was a protest against a corporate tax cut.

Perhaps instead of being snarky about tv snarkiness, you could provide a background on the Boston Tea Parties use of property damage to protest a corporate tax cut.

As for the "structural" problems of cable news television, a large part of it is the time constraints created by advertising. Instead of a long interrupted segment, there are a series of very brief segments frequently interrupted by blaring commercials.

Even your own argument argues against itself: you say "[t]he inescapable conclusion of reading Somerby is that the problem with cable news is structural, not ideological. The only way for a pundit to assemble a large enough audience to succeed in prime time is to pander to their audience's ideological sensibilities...." First you say it's "not ideological" and then you immediately say that it is "ideological." What am I missing?

And as for your insult that they are dumbing "down their content to the lowest common denominator[,]" while they aren't immune to it, both Maddow and Olbermann regularly speak quite coherently about extremely complex issues. To not give them credit for that is, again, dishonest.

* The right wingers call to "tea bag" everyone was a Daily Show segment.

"Instead of a long interrupted segment"

should have been:

Instead of a long UNinterrupted segment

Obama admirers have probably found both Maddow and Olbermann's shows uncomfortable places lately, as they've taken him on on a number of issues, particularly over how Geithner's running the bailout, and how the Obama DOJ is trying to shut down lawsuits and assert the State Secrets privilege.

Maddow's show is meatier than Olbermann's; she does a good job of educating the audience.

It's also true that she uses humor a lot. How else can you respond to a bunch of people who put on a fake grassroots movement and give it a name that will make anyone who ever watched Sex in the City to giggle uncontrollably?

Wow, you really are upset with Maddow's show not because she's lying or demagoging like the Right...but because she uses humor??? Maybe you should look up the definition of vapid, 'cause that kinda fits you much more than her.

BTW, a very serious kudos to you, though, for linking to the Yglesias post.

Sommersby's biggest beef seems to be that Rachel Maddow is succeeding by having a show that doesn't do thing the way HE would do them. I have a suggestion for him, how about he get his own show and show everyone else how its done. Rachel Maddow is not doing the Nightly News or 60 minutes. If she wants her show to be lighthearted at times then she has that right. But what you will never see on any of the FoxNews crowd that he compares her to is the kind of agressive without being demeaning interviews that she has done with the likes of Evan Bayh, Tim Pawlenty, and Colin Powell. I enjoy Sommersby at times but he is stuck still fighting the battle of the election of 2000 and he is criticizing Rachel Maddow not on the merits of her show, but on how it doesn't live up to his ideals. The things he claims are factual errors on her show are beyond trivial. It wasn't "difficult" to discuss teabagging because to him difficult means serious. Well maybe for HER it meant being able to get through the segment without bursting into a fit of laughter. Seriously his shtick is getting mighty old. Again if he feels he has all the answers about how a progressive show should go then he should go pitch it to all the networks. I won't hold my breath.

The teabagging thing has gotten a bit old, but it is a full frontal demonstration of how out of touch the repiglicans are. The 2m4m thing is even more bizarre and funny. I can't believe that these monumental gaffes are not all over the MSM.

Maddow didn't make up these terms to deride the astroturf protests. She is just exploiting some very poor messaging by the repiglicans.

Her show is light years ahead of anything on faux news, in terms of content, appeals to reason, and balance taking on Obama as well as the repiglicans in congress and the media.

I cannot watch more the 120 seconds of that garbage. And apparently neither can many, many others.

Undergrad Cornell.
Graduate Columbia.

As if that matters.

I hope you folks are continuing to read Daily Howler. http://www.dailyhowler.com/ The silly double entendres are spreading from show to show on MSNBC, in what Somerby believes is a calculated effort to win dumb viewers.

Richard Wang says that Maddow didn't make up these terms to deride the protestors. However, she did make up that these terms were commonly being used in the protests. In fact, the protestors have seldom used the word "tea-bagging."

BYW it seems surprising that someone named Richard Wang would defend the use of childish double entendres.

Incidentally, according to ABC News, these demonstrations are nothing like Astroturf. This is a genuine grass roots movement.

The movement is leaderless and only aligns indirectly with party politics. While many participants will be Republicans, the anti-spending message is more closely aligned with libertarian themes of small government, with many people angry at both Democrats and Republicans.

"These are folks who have never been involved in the political process before," said Eric Odom, who designed and is running two Web sites to connect supporters and corral information about the protests. Odom said he supported Libertarian Bob Barr for president last year.

"This is a birth of a completely new movement, with a new face, that hasn't been seen anywhere in the country," Odom said. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Story?id=7337117&page=2

The Tea Bagging movement is classic astroturf. The movement was funded and coordinated by corporate lobbyist groups, particularly Republican Dick Armey's FreedomWorks lobby group.

The corporate lobby groups funding the tea bagger movement is also getting millions and millions of dollars of free advertising from Rupert Murdoch's FOX spokesmodels.

In fact, the corporate backing for the tea bagger movement is being specifically choreographed to complain about the upper 05% of tax payers getting a tax increase.

95% of American taxpayers got a TAX CUT.

Perhaps the TAX CUT for 95% of American taxpayers is what the tea baggers are complaining about?

After all, THE TRUE HISTORY OF AMERICA'S TEA PARTY WAS THAT IT WAS A PROTEST AGAINST A CORPORATE TAX CUT.

Tea baggers don't know the history of America's Tea Party nor do they understand that they are being manipulated by corporate lobbyists.

It's hard to take people like that seriously.

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/04/09/lobbyists-planning-teaparties/

For the record, I do take the right wing seriously. It's just really, really difficult sometimes.

Especially when right wingers are out waving signs complaining about "TYRRANY".

The tea bagger spent the time to carefully wrap up his cardboard sign in plastic but couldn't take 30 seconds to look up how to spell tyranny.

Tyrrany: first they came for the dictionaries...

No, O'Reilly does not "always" take a conservative position, if one's going to define "always" in the most excruciatingly literal sense of that word. O'Reilly takes the conservative position about 98 to 99% of the time.

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