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April 05, 2013

MSNBC, Kindergarten for Bored, Angry Unemployed People

The MSNBC Messaging Machine finds new ways to be stupid just about every day.

MSNBC is a televised blog. I keep saying this because it's true: part of blogs' charm, at least initially, was that they gleefully ignored any standards of professionalism. The honesty about the slapdash nature of them was bracing. And the honesty about agenda -- to wit, we have one -- was liberating.

But that upside of blogs also comes with a downside. Blogs speak relentlessly to one side of the aisle (are there any actual centrist blogs out there? It's a business model I don't think can actually work). We look for new ways to provoke -- because it's fun and profitable. And I don't mean that in the cliched joke way; I mean, it's literally both fun and profitable (at least in the sense of hit-whoring) to find exciting new manners of juvenile tweaking of one's political enemies.

The medium tends towards two things: emotional hotness and intellectual dumbness. Those aren't cast-iron rules, of course. (Present company excepted!)

MSNBC has fully embraced the blogger ethos of hit-whoring provocation first, second, last, and always. As well as exploring all the new and inventive ways to call people you don't like Nazis.

There simply is no professionalism at MSNBC, no aspiration to any kind of standards at all. It's Dumb By Design (TM), because Dumb is Easy and Easy is Holy.

It's a televised blog. It's a vlog (a term that never really caught on). It's a tlog, I suppose.

It's not a professional news organization in any way -- it's not professional, and it's not about news. It's also apparently overseen by callow morons so it's really not all that organized. It's sloppy, stupid liberal agitation 24/7.

Television is itself a potent medium -- people read less when TV came along. They also stopped going to movies as much. TV's easy and convenient.

Back in the day, the blogosphere was full of blog triumphalism. We actually thought Blogs Could Change the World (or at least we pretended to, sometimes).

It turns out we were right... in a way. What we failed to understand is that You Really Haven't Made It Until You're On TV. And we failed to understand that television was a ravenous, indiscriminately-consuming organism, always needing "content" (of a kind) to fill the time between commercials, and it was furthermore a highly adaptable, very fecund, very insidious sort of colonizing/cannibalizing pullulating growth.* Like the Thing, it imitates and consumes.

What we failed to understand, in short, was that the Triumph of the Blogs would come when a television channel adopted an all-blog format, with all the Hot Sloppy Stupid that is characteristic of blogs on their bad days.

And we failed to understand the Iron Law of American Dumb that is responsible for the rise of TV in the first place: It's just easier to watch people talking rather to read people writing. Pictures are fun and words are work.

Dumb is Easy and Easy is Holy.

MSNBC took a fairly Easy form of writing and made it even Easier, but taking out the "reading" part of it.

* Pullulating means "breeding or spawning new life freely." I just learned the world last night, looking up something about the Drake Equation and the Fermi Paradox (i.e., why isn't the the universe pullulating with detectable alien life, if such life is as common as many estimations for the Drake Equation suggest?).

Anyway, I thought it was a neat, Lovecraftian sort of word, and figured if I used it it might stick in my brain. So I used it.

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posted by Ace at 05:30 PM

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