Wednesday, January 13

Congenital Stockholm Syndrome

Michael Sherer, "As Mascot and Martyr, Sarah Palin Debuts On Fox News". January 12

MANY years ago, in my days as a corporate lackey, I wound up responsible for the details of a catered banquet, though I hadn't chosen the caterer. He turned out to be a guy who's now a species of local teevee demi-celeb as a health food shill, even though it's obvious his expertise consists of having a trunkful of stock nutritional comments of dubious quality, and being a vegetarian who knows how to sauté. And his schtick consists of saying things like "Well, we could put some lard in it for you!" to the forced merriment of persons high enough on the local demi-celeb chain that they're the one holding the microphone.

(He actually said just that, a couple weeks back, either totally unaware that lard's mostly monounsaturated fat and high smoking point had turned it into, if the the health-food craze du jour, at least something worth a trendy reappraisal, or else simply because "lard" is the worst insult he can imagine hurling at someone since he himself wouldn't eat it. Which is like the proselytizing street-corner Christian saying he hopes three nude women meet you at the door when you get home.)

But back then he was a Chef, with his name on his lab coat to prove it. At some point we got into an argument over a plating charge, or a time restriction or something, and I suggested that buffet service would solve the problem. "I do not do buffets!" he said. "When I arrange a plate, it's Art!"

"Geez, pal, I take kitchen scraps to my compost pile in a bowl, too, but that doesn't make me Rembrandt," I said. We never really hit it off, somehow.
It's been said before, but let me say it again: Fox News creator Roger Ailes is a genius. His peers in the executive suites of rival networks, newspapers and media conglomerates still hire talent for their abilities. Ailes knows you can also hire talent for who they anger, who they unite and what they represent.

No, Mozart is a genius. Cézanne is a genius. Jorge Luis Borges is a genius. Roger Ailes is a cheap thug and political fixer who turns Rupert Murdock's billions into 2.5 million cable viewers a night. That's not a politically-motivated criticism. It's an aesthetically-motivated one.

Here's the political criticism: why should we witness a third generation of journalists give the extremist Right a free pass on the grounds that they (the journalists) are too establishment, hence too elitist, to understand the Great Middle Class of the Great Middle of the Country, which obviously agrees with everything FOX News ever says, or, on the off chance it doesn't, who's some East Coast elitist to say so?
[Before I continue, I must make a disclosure: I am not, as a member of the professional media, qualified to describe Sarah Palin's debut appearance as a Fox News analyst. As Fox pundit Monica Crowley explained on the network after the former Alaska governor left Tuesday night, Palin “was actually talking over the heads of the media to the American people.” This, explained Crowley, is Palin's great talent—a rare ability to connect directly with Americans through television. “Nixon did it,” Crowley added, driving home her point. Lacking access to Palin's most important frequencies, therefore, I must ask that you take this analysis for what it is—an incomplete rendering.]

Look: if you aren't qualified to say "Monica Crowley is full of shit," then you aren't qualified for anything. This sort of "Oh, ha-ha, the Rubes don't like me" routine is just meant to simultaneously assert your real superiority, assert your superior sense of fairness in "not" responding, and, most importantly, justify the fact that you do not call Monica Crowley a steaming slo-cooker of malformed, hepatitis-laden feces, on the grounds that she represents an alternative universe, where it's possible Tureen of Floating Turd is viewed as a delicacy.

The reader is supposed to make the case for you. Which might be a literary technique, except that you spend the rest of the piece making the opposite case.
The set up was unmistakable. Ailes had not hired another talking head in Palin. He had hired a mascot for Fox News, a living breathing symbol of all that the network hopes to be: a place for the forgotten, besieged, suburban and rural American middle, long victimized, often dismissed, beset on all sides by elites and liberals, haters and foes. Palin took her cue perfectly. “They don't like the message,” she said. “They don't like the commonsense conservative solutions that I think I represent, and I articulate as I explain what I believe are some solutions to the great challenges facing America.”

Fuck dat. If Ailes is a genius for hiring the World's Most Popular Wingnut Celebrity for the World's Most Popular Wingnut Cable Operation, then I'm a genius for hitting the brakes when I see a stop sign.

Look, you wanna talk about genius, of the political type, then Crowley had it right: Nixon. Only leaving out "Evil" renders the equation less than truthful. All FOX does is harvest an audience he predisposed to the crap it sells, Southern Strategy, perpetually shoulder-chipped, no use for facts and rapidly losing the ability to process any it happens to find. Ailes' pedigree dates to Nixon. Just like Cheney, just like Rumsfeld. In a world where Democrats are still being asked to atone for McGovern and Carter, why do these fucks get a pass? FOX draws 2.5 million a night. That's pretty good for cable. Fully one-third of what ESPN draws for an NBA semifinal. But how is it for politics? FOX is the only game in town for its adherents (and what percentage are they of its viewership? How many people who disagree with FOX watch it?). No one asks what's accomplished with this awesome force behind it, just as, among certain sycophants and journalists, Sarah Palin has no responsibility for losing the 2008 election or quitting the post she'd asked those besieged suburban and rural Alaskans to grant her.

And fuck dat, too: Palin picks up cues about…Sarah Palin? It's the one fucking subject she might be qualified to speak on, although that doesn't make her trustworthy or coherent. The fact that Sarah Palin is a bizarrely popular side-show performer, whose act consists of her doing an impression of a brain-damaged parrot, or that Roger Ailes has his fat finger on the pulse of Stupidity, doesn't disqualify either of them from responsibility for the crap they produce. And even if it did, the onus doesn't disappear; it just shifts to the audience.

And spare me the idea that Ailes has gone meta with this remarkable coup. That's just the sort of bullshit people say when they don't want to say what they should say. "Sarah Palin, FOX News Mascot"? You mean she wasn't before? She has to actually go on the air and erase whatever lingering doubts over her mental competence might still be out there for the two to be linked? Please…maybe it really is best you avoid commenting on that portion of the country that doesn't reside in your skin.
To quibble with any of these utterances, in form or substance, would be to simply help fulfill her Fox News destiny. She exists to enrage and rile those paid to pay attention to this stuff, a group who a great bulk of the American people long ago began to dislike for its phony self-importance and its monopoly on their attentions.

Quibble? Since when do opinion journalists "quibble" with politicians and paid mouthpieces? And since when is an imaginary confrontation between a journalist and an audience member who disagrees with him grounds for his not saying anything in the first place? (Yeah, I know. Since. 1968.) The Press, like the Democrats, have been running scared from "helping fulfill wingnut destiny" since Reagan, if I'm not mistaken; if I am please let me know who tried otherwise, and when. Why do more people trust The Daily Show, and Colbert than "real" news? Well, for one, because those two don't run from this shit and then congratulate themselves for covering distance. If Palin says nothing which should be disputed--let's go ahead and make that "shredded"--in public, then she says nothing which should be covered at all. So shut up about her. She shouldn't be covered as a real-life logo just because you tried to make her into a metaphorical one two paragraphs back.

Y'know, that America which doesn't like you doesn't dislike you any less just because you tap-dance around the intellectual condyloma that is Sarah Palin, or FOX News in general. When you back away from the obvious truth, that America is more convinced than ever that what you do say is a lie. This isn't judo, and it's not--or not supposed to be--some slumber-partygoer's version of passive-aggression in pursuit of the right to wear lipstick. Hyperreality is a communications theory, not a lifestyle choice. If it's not "okay" to subject Sarah Palin or Her Network to scrutiny on the grounds that some people out there believe her, or It, then it's not okay to make fun of someone wearing Klingon ears or a porn 'stache.

It makes no difference to me whether anyone at Time ever comes out and says, "Sarah Palin is a double-talking bumblespeaker too ignorant to be taken seriously, let alone seriously as a candidate". I just object to her being excused for it because other idiots agree with her. I just wanna know what you went to J-school for if "putting the truth on paper" isn't it?

8 comments:

R. Porrofatto said...

Just swell, as usual. Monica Crowley apparently holds the Barbara Olsen Chair in Blonde Bombast at Fox now. I saw her the other day pulling the "shoebomber wasn't a terrorist attack on Bush's watch but the undiebomber was on Obama's" without saying why because nobody at Fox asked why, ha ha, and if I ever see anyone from Time say something so patently, irrefutably true as "Monica Crowley is full of shit" I'll know I've finally departed this mortal coil to join the "Away Team" on the mother ship.

JMC said...

The Common Folk of America scold: -1 point for not having thought of using "condyloma" regarding Ms Rice when she was kicking around.

However, turn all the cards over! It looks like you win anyway...

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StringonaStick said...

Lovely Sarah just failed the think-on-you-feet test with the "which is your favorite founding father" question from the Doocy/besweatered Co-dependent show; I think we could match the time it took Sarah to come up with "Washington!" to how long it took Shrub to be torn away from "My Pet Goat".

Heh; word verification is "outed". How appropriate.

Brendan said...

Even more than the wingnuts, I really like the righteous beatings you give the Villagers.

Brendan said...

Also, too:

@StringonaStick:

The "match the time" thing was FTW.

tensor said...

This, explained Crowley, is Palin's great talent—a rare ability to connect directly with Americans through television. “Nixon did it,” Crowley added, driving home her point.

So Crowley never actually watched Tricky Dicky on her folks 13" B&W TV, did she? Because I did, and he scared my six-year-old self worse than did a carload of clowns. His shifty glare, his shiny, sweaty nervousness, his burning need to stick it to whomever he hated today -- all of that came flowing out of the same flickering window which had safely transported me to Sesame Street a few hours earlier.

desertscope said...

Ms. Palin uses the term "common sense," rather than the more accurate, "the way idiots think things should be."