Dynamist Blog


Andrew Sullivan discovers the downside of media plenitude. It rewards extreme rhetoric and sloppy factual claims.

In the ever-competitive marketplace of political ideas - in a world of blogs and talk radio and cable news - it's increasingly hard to stand out. Coulter's answer to that dilemma is two-fold: look amazing and ratchet up the rhetoric against the left until it has the subtlety and nuance of a car alarm. The left, in turn, has learned the lesson, which is why the fraud and dissembler, Michael Moore, has done so well.

Spinsanity makes a similar analogy, minus the explanation:

Treason is the culmination of a dismaying trend toward factually misleading and inflammatory books from pundits such as Michael Moore, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage....These authors may delight partisans and make their publishers rich, but their work impoverishes our political discourse.

The analogy between Coulter and Moore is a telling one, but it misses an important disparity. Powerful liberal voices like the NYT tend to ignore Moore (though not as much as they ignore Noam Chomsky). But they find Coulter impossible to resist. She's a publicity magnet, because she confirms all their prejudices. Here's Frank Rich's latest reward for her rhetorical excesses. He not only panders to his readers' belief that conservatives are irresponsible idiots, but by doing so he confirms the prejudices of Coulter's readers as well. It's a perfect arrangement.

There is only one (partial) solution to this "impoverish[ment] of our political discourse." Just say no to reviews of and columns on stupid books. Discuss something more interesting. Easy advice to give. Hard to follow.

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