I jotted off a series of blog posts that I will probably leave in the unpublished state. The posts were inspired by one of the "upcoming news stories" teasers they put on cable TV. The commercial asked "Is Ann Coulter Good for the Conservative Movement?"
So, I jotted off posts about the good and bad things about Ann Coulter, the O'Reilly Factor and the Hannity and Colmes show.
The general opinion was that the formulas used in conservative talk shows and books are okay for news entertainment. The techniques fall flat as a foundation for any substantive thought.
My Criticism of O'Reilly is O'Reilly's reactionary stance often carries an imprint of the things reacts against. Mr. O'Reilly correctly noted that the left had captured the media and that progressives use the media to engage in a culture war. O'Reilly learned the techniques at BU and Harvard, but made a career of aiming the techniques back on the media itself.
This is a great start for a news show.
The problem occurs when Bill O'Reilly tries to encourage others to become culture warriors. Doing such makes his culture war a foundational cause. This reactionary movement simply creates a mirror of the progressive's culture war. Even worse, the act of overtly declaring culture war creates an opportunity for the Left to project their methods on O'Reilly and the Republican party.
An example of this process ... the wikipedia article for the Colbert Report says that it started as a parody of the O'Reilly Factor.
Reactionaries create a resonating board for the radicals. Only a pinhead would make such a blunder.
The one show I really can't stand is a thing called "Hannity and Colmes." The premise of the show is sound. Network news is extremely biased. They use slick subliminal techniques to fight their culture war. Rather than creating a conservative news hour, Fox wanted to create a show where different hosts openly expressed news from their political perspectives.
The heart of the show is a conflict between Hannity (a righty) and Colmes (a lefty). The typical show has Hannity launching forth with a declarative statement, then Colmes would spit out whatever tagline seems best suited to deflect the brunt of Hannity's statement.
There are often panels where people simply yell past each other.
I believe that this show is detrimental to the Conservative movement as it makes the thesis/antithesis conflict between left and right the central focus of the show.
This conflict between la droite et la gouche was the foundation of the French Revolution and subsequent Reign of Terror. Why is Hannity spending so much effort perpetuating the central conflict of the French Revolution as if it were somehow foundational to the United States?
The United States worked becuase the founders had a great deal of faith in classical discourse and had a sincere belief that it would be possible to overcome some of the base conflicts that tore European society apart.
The classical thoughts on perspective fell more along the lines of: "There is a truth. Each of us see glimpses of this truth from our different points of view. Through open discourse, we are able to expand our understanding of truth and gradually improve our condition in the process."
The modern view is more along the line of: "Everything is relative. Each person has their own private truth which is created by their perspective. There are some underlying paradigms that evolve through a scientifically predictable system of thesis/antithesis conflicts. The intelligentsia can herd people through this evolutionary process by framing the primary conflicts of the day. This evolutionary dialectical process will lead to a promised, yet unspecified, utopian state."
A news show where people affirmatively stated: "This is my point of view and this is the way I see this event" would be wonderful. It would support the classical view that there are different perspectives of one truth.
IMHO, a show format built on a resounding dialectical conflict between the left and right capitualates the classical worldview at a foundational level.
Of course, when the primary objective of a mew network is to dominate the news, you can pretty much guarantee that the shows in the network will have fundamental flaws.
It is really sad that so many people take the rantings of O'Reilly and Hannity to be the position of the Republican party.
All public intellectuals in the conservative realm have the same problem: Public intellectuals need to develop a format for publishing their ideas. The easiest way to do this is to create a serial format. The challenge is that the form of a serial format can distort the message.
This, of course, is not a problem for progressives. Progressives hold the medium is the message. A progressive need simply look at each medium and ask "How do I use this medium to advance my partisan cause?"
The classical thinker, who holds that there is such a thing as truth, is always battling against the structures they create to carry their message. There is an awkward battle between their words and the format they choose to publish their words. This is the area where O'Reilly excels as he seems to understand the conflicts in the media.
Back to Ann Coulter. For each conservative in field of political satire, there's at least 20 competing for attention on the progressive side. Ann Coulter provides a challenge for a machine that herds people about through ridicule as she shows that the left is every bit equal to the ridicule heaped on the right.
I was disappointed with the timing of Coulter's new book. It hits the market right before the inauguration of a new president. The peaceful change in leadership is the beating heart of the American experiment. The vast majority of American conservatives support the presidency and are proud of the peaceful transfer of power. They love the numerous references Obama makes to Lincoln and sincerely want a government that works.
Timing the release of a satire book right before the inauguration is, IMHO, very bad form. I doubt, however, that Ms. Coulter was timing her books as such. It appears that she is simply producing a series of books and the timing is driven by the writing and editing process.
Ann Coulter's satire is fun to read. One can make satire of any person or group. Such is the nature of base humor. Satire, in and of itself, is not substantive. As such, I hope repbulicans never elevate Coulter into the top levels of their leadership.
Personally, I prefer the self effacing style of conservative humor perfected by Huckabee and other Republican leaders to the in-your-face style of Coulter and Franken.
The in-your-face stuff (from any viewpoint) turns me off. So I turn it off.
But there are many that key into this kind of stuff. It seems to dominate the political blogosphere. I have friends (both liberal and conservative) that seriously buy into the us-vs-them model.
Yesterday a friend emailed me a story about a probable Obama appointee, suggesting that it was bad news. I read the story, did a little research on my own, and concluded that it didn't look like bad news. I can't see how this person would vary greatly from the current Bush appointee in any substantive way.
I emailed back my findings, stating that I don't see any particular benefit in seeing everything Obama does in a negative light. This is not an us-vs-them thing.
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