Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Clowning the Discourse

Myglesias takes issue with Brendan Nyhan's approving link to Bob Somerby's criticism of Rachel Maddow. He has some worthwhile points, but there's a fundamental disconnect at play here in how these different media critics are coming at the show.

I think Nyhan is somewhat of an idealist who believes in and tries to work towards a more elevated public political discourse. Spinsanity really used to drive me nuts (during the 2004 election cycle, I guess it would have been) with how painfully even-handed it could be in the face of all sorts of right-wing vileness. Matt Yglesias is basically himself a pundit, and of course he's going to be pretty cynical about the political media; from that perspective, the existence of Democratic talking points on cable news beats is preferable to its non-existence, end of story.

Somerby is sort of a hybrid, eminently jaded about the state of the discourse, but committed to improving it because he's a true believer who is certain that liberalism will carry the day if things are hashed out in good faith on an even playing field.

Personally, I enjoy Somerby's vitriol but am probably closer to Yglesias on the cynicism scale. Not that the triumph of either of their brands of moderate liberalism is worth propagandizing or discoursing for in the first place.

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