Monday, December 09, 2013

Because Both Sides, Part #197,833

From Salon:
Our outrageous media created the Tea Party
How "melodrama, misrepresentative exaggeration and mockery" became the dominant tone on cable and talk radio
Given the magnitude of the response to Limbaugh’s remarks, an unfamiliar outsider might assume his behavior to be highly out of the ordinary. In fact, what is perplexing is that the attacks on Fluke struck so many as shocking. This is, after all, the same Rush Limbaugh who coined the term “feminazi,” called Hillary Clinton a bitch, Chelsea Clinton a dog, and Nancy Pelosi a “ditz”—he who had also suggested that Anita Hill had probably had “plenty of spankings.” This is the same Limbaugh who regularly refers to the National Organization for Women as “NAGS,” and more recently responded to the multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain by suggesting: “You women, why don’t you just make it official, put on some burqas, and I’ll guaran-damn-tee you, nobody’ll touch you. You put on a burqa, and everybody’ll leave you alone.”

Rush Limbaugh’s remarks were outrageous, but such behavior is de rigueur in a political media genre where being offensive (and reliably indignant when offended) is the foundation of most content. Popular conservative radio host Michael Savage has no qualms yelling “take your religion and shove it up your behind” at Muslims on his national broadcast. And liberal radio host Mike Malloy seemed to take great enjoyment in making a mock phone call to Satan to check on conservative blogger and commentator Andrew Breibart, shortly after he passed away. In one of his many ludicrous statements, conservative Glenn Beck told viewers on Fox’s morning show that FEMA could very well be building concentration camps for those opposed to the policies of the Obama administration.

Although outrage has some commonality with its conceptual sibling, “incivility,” the terms are not interchangeable. Diana Mutz and Byron Reeves use incivility to denote “gratuitous asides that [suggest] a lack of respect and/or frustration with the opposition.” In a sense, outrage is incivility writ large. It is by definition uncivil but not all incivility is outrage. Rude behavior such as eye-rolling, sighing, and the like are not outrageous because they do not incorporate the elements of malfeasant inaccuracy and intent to diminish that characterize outrage.

In addition to its unique discursive style, the genre also has other recognizable attributes. First, it is generally personality centered, with a given program, column, or blog defined by a dominant charismatic voice. We can think of liberal columnist Maureen Dowd, conservative television host Bill O’Reilly, conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, or liberal radio and television host Ed Schultz as examples of these distinctive personalities. While many of these programs and blogs include other voices such as those of guests, callers, and commenters, these voices take a backseat to the host, whose charm, emotional sensibilities, and worldview define the content. Unlike a conventional news program, in which the news itself is central and anchors are often replaced, there would be no Rachel Maddow Show without Rachel Maddow.

For those seeking to understand the genre, recognizing the various writers and speakers as part of a densely connected web is vital, as outrage is marked by internal intertextuality, with personalities from outrage venues constantly referring to one another. This is true for those on the same side of the ideological rift, but it is also difficult to imagine progressive and conservative outrage media being separated, as each plays an instrumental role in creating fodder for the other. Think back to Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke, and consider the ways in which Limbaugh himself became the subject of liberal blogs such as Daily Kos and liberal television programs such as the Ed Schultz Show. The feedback loop continued to cycle as Limbaugh, in turn, criticized progressive outlets for exaggerating the controversy and using it for political ends.
I love the smell of internal intertextuality in the morning.  It smells like...grad students jerking off and calling it scholarship.

Honestly, they don't even try anymore.

They don't even think about it anymore.

Now, it's just part of the Modern American Jounalism style book, right up there with when to abbreviate the names of units of government and when to spell them out.

And it is absolutely destroying our capacity for self-governance.


Neo Tuxedo said...

Speaking of modern American journalism, Chris Hayes just teased us with a (simulated) broadcast from the Better Universe.

Unknown said...

They compared Rachel Maddow to Bill O'Reilly! They excoriated the very rude Mike Malloy (who's a guilty pleasure) who is only on about 5 radio stations. The very rude Limbaugh is on hundreds.

I'd rather read a Sirota screed about how Obama is worse than Bashir Al Assad and how Putin is really groovy.

C'mon, Salon, leave the "both sides do it" shtick for the Post and Times. The only time I believe that "both sides do it" is when you're talking about fucking. That I believe.