Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rage Against The Media Machine

Well, at least they didn't make her sound nutty.

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. -- In the angry life of Maryscott O'Connor, the rage begins as soon as she opens her eyes and realizes that her president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to rise and her family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, O'Connor, 37, is out of bed and heading toward her computer.

Out there, awaiting her building fury: the Angry Left, where O'Connor's reputation is as one of the angriest of all. "One long, sustained scream" is how she describes the writing she does for various Web logs, as she wonders what she should scream about this day.

She smokes a cigarette. Should it be about Bush, whom she considers "malevolent," a "sociopath" and "the Antichrist"? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as "Satan," or about Karl Rove, "the devil"? Should it be about the "evil" Republican Party, or the "weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving" Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says "I have a special place in my heart . . . a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned"?

Perhaps Finkel cherry-picked his quotes for added zazz. Perhaps we all really do come off as this unhinged, at least to the average person who, lest we forget, is not a political junkie and does not read 25 blogs a day for rhetorical sustenance.

And yet, I know for a fact that the tone is similarly strident in most of the righty blogs -- and their political side won. Again. Will this guy be following Mr. Mom Goldstein around as well, listening to him rant volubly about the perfidy of the "left" whilst cleaning the grout? Will he treat us to a sampling of Michelle Malkin's ludicrous crypto-racist ramblings? Ann Coulter's girlish dream of Supreme Court Justices felled by rat poison -- which typically works, it should be noted, by causing massive internal anti-coagulation, which is probably even more unpleasant than it sounds. I mean, there's your irresponsibly rhetorical outrage, dickhead.

O'Connor hits on the nut of it when she attributes the source of her (and our) anger as that feeling of powerlessness, when you feel that no matter how much better your ideas are, how much smarter and more adept your politicos may be, or even that maybe you have an equal right to have your voice be heard, you're still gonna lose, because of money, because the system is irreparably gamed and snatched away by Diebold and friends, because too many of our fellow citizens are more motivated to vote by cheap rhetoric about the horrors of gay marriage than by the fact that the average American CEO makes 500 times what the workers do. All that and more may justifiably be fueling our anger, but at least it's generally informed anger, contrary to the implicit tone of the Pravda piece.

When covering the subject of rhetorical anger, as practiced by their competitors in the pajamahadeen, "legitimate" journamalists have in the past tried to play cute with the more rabid right commenters such as Coulter or Limbaugh. It always gets presented just the way they like it, because they all profess to being C. Thomas Howell in Red Dawn; i.e., the anger keeps them warm.

But when they cover leftist commentators, it is with this hacky "more in sorrow than in anger" vein. Yeah, the Rude Pundit lives up to his name, but he also makes a lot of excellent points in the process. Yes, Maryscott O'Connor is a bit of a rageaholic, but how can anyone stay truly informed about the world and the bastards running (ruining) it, and not be outraged?

I keep thinking of a riff from Bill Maher's show last year, where Jason Alexander, thinking out loud, was trying to figure out what motivated Bush's base, in the face of all contrary logic, reason, and facts. He kept stammering, shaking his head, trying like hell to find the right words to express his bemusement and dismay. Finally, he just blurts out, just a shade away from George Costanza's naturally dyspeptic state, " wrong with these fuckin' people?"

Imagine if they did a news story on that. Not the usual fish-out-of-water, city-slicker reporter goes to small town and pays reverence to the heartland crap. There's plenty of that taking up landfill and litter box across the country. No, the question is, what makes someone whose side keeps winning remain angry and hostile and abusive to others, so much so that they insist on allowing incompetence and corruption trump their own interests, and those of the working-class families that they so solemnly pretend to revere.

Riddle us that one, Mister Smart Guy Newspaper Reporter. We know what makes sore losers tick, but what's the deal with chronically sore winners?

Update: Billmon has a better theory about this nonsense, that it's Pravda's payback against all those shrill lefties that publicly embarrassed them these past few months. The lefties demanded facts from the reporters and columnists; they held the ombudschump's hairy feet to the fire when she fucked up royally; they demanded accountability from the editors; they forced Pravda to send Mental Ben right out the corporate poop-chute and back to his virtual rubber room in less than a week.

And again, the Post thrives and depends on access to a degree unimaginable in any other media market except perhaps New York. One understands that they operate in the belly of the beast and all, but they could at least pretend not to enjoy surfing in Cheney's stomach acids so damned much.


r@d@r said...

"pajamahadeen" - LOL! pure comedy gold.

Pooh said...

Methinks billmon correct. The Post couldn't come straight out and smear Jane Hamsher (because she bites back rather fiercely), so they used Maryscott O'Connor as a proxy.

Heywood J. said...

Right, Pooh. It's easier for them to just tar everyone with the same broad brush. The thing is -- and this is where Billmon's take on this comes into play for me -- is that all this time I have primarily assumed a certain level of the usual strains of institutional incompetence and perhaps misguided attempts at social climbing within the power structure of the milieu that the Post in particular operates. They are money-grubbing shills, beholden to the usual trappings of power, yada yada.

But Billmon's thesis is much less byzantine, much more close to home I think. It's nothing more than a good ol' fashioned pushback. Why they picked O'Connor in particular rather than go after Hamsher specifically, who knows. You're probably right. Whatever the case, it's much greatere than simple incompetence or endemic corruption. It's now malfeasance on an almost criminal (for people who still want to pretend to be serious journamalists, anyway) level.

For an added bonus, if you haven't already, check out Maryscott O'Connor's take on the whole thing. Better yet, check out Mahablog's take, and check out her link to conservatard blog My Pet Jawa. Those motherfuckers are on glue; they seriously think Finkel was sympathetic to O'Connor's (and thus to all "angry unhinged libruls") cause. Truly through the looking glass, these people.

RonB said...

I don't think Jane would have let them in the house.

It's becoming clearer to me that the Washington Post and other major outlets don't know blog from bulgogi. Maybe because I get my news nearly wholesale from the blogosphere, I've errantly assumed everyone does. Nope. The blogosphere is still a nascent phenomenon, attracting a very small amount of the total population.

I am still not sure what motivates the Post et al to engage blogs-curiosity, or malice. If they wanted to do a slash job on the left blogosphere, they could have chosen someone else-looking at Maryscott's blog, I'm not seeing a whole lot of rancor and vitriol, frankly. I could look left and right to find blogs that were nastier if the subject was "The Blogosphere is angry!!!" But, I guess it all depends on how familiar one is with the blogosphere as a whole, or what political persuasion you are of when you first engage that shapes your impressions. Having been on both sides of the political aisle, I can put the attitudes in perspective-perhaps the Post is not at that point yet. That they spend so much time cultivating our attention counts for something, though.

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