oct 15

Sarcasm For President

Maybe I'm drunk right now (okay, I am), but I think this might be one of the most important discussions of our time (well, if you exclude the economy, Iraq, the energy crisis, and the downfall of America): Rachel Maddow vs. David Frum on MSNBC. It's about the tone of politics vis-a-vis the state of media's sarcastic approach toward it.


I haven't been watching Maddow's new show enough, but this make me think she's not reaching for something bigger than that talking points.

Of all fucking people, I think David Frum leveled her.

posted by Rex at 1:13 AM on October 15, 2008

I feel the same way about Frum and the importance of the discussion.

posted by Andrew Simone at 11:10 AM on October 15, 2008

Interesting comments from Nick too. I watched it as it aired the other night and was mostly impressed with how cool she remained. Meanwhile, Frum is twitchy and his comment was clearly rehearsed. So watching it that night I concentrated more on what he was saying than her response. Now it's clear she bluffed her way out of being caught off guard. Neither comes off well in the exchange, but leveling the charge of a decline in journalistic standards on Rachel Maddow's shoulders within the first minute, put the attention on the pot rather the kettle.

posted by joanne mcneil at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2008

It's an interesting moment because Maddow is forced into a position where she has to say "Being funny is important to the political process too!" And the thing is -- she's right, generally speaking. But is she right specifically speaking?

Meaning: Does every TV show need to be The Daily Show? Does every blog need to be Gawker?

Ya know? That kind of tone has become so successful that it's now penetrated most of our news consumption. Cable news is now completely personality: aloof, jokey, sarcastic.

Of course, I want attitude in my news as much as anyone else. But somehow Frum articulates an idea that Maddow can never quite answer: What's left after the joke?

posted by Rex at 1:17 PM on October 15, 2008

Rex, I couldn't disagree more with your analysis. I think Tristero summed it up best. Frum avoided her question, trying to bait her into just the kind of "debate" he decries, while Maddow kept the conversation on point, letting him hang himself with his own words. I think Tristero is especially insightful in his analysis of the Wolfowitz moment.

I haven't been watching Maddow's new show enough, but this make me think she's not reaching for something bigger than that talking points.

I think that's true. What you're missing if you only saw the Youtube clip was the context of this particular episode -- the hate spilling forth at McCain/Palin rallies. She specifically asked him about his quote "those who press this William Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that's going to be very hard to calm after November" and he responded by essentially equating her show with that fury. So I think her response was appropriate, and his attempt to condemn "sarcasm" in a cable news/opinion show was just a tactic to rile her.

Meaning: Does every TV show need to be The Daily Show? Does every blog need to be Gawker?

You can't really be serious, can you? There's the Daily Show, there's Colbert, there's Olberman, and there's Maddow. That's *four* shows that deal with politics in a snarky, humorous or sarcastic way. Two of them are on COMEDY CENTRAL. I hardly think that merits this hand-wringing over "tone" in political coverage.

But while we're on the subject of "tone," where have you been for the last 15 years, while rightwing talk radio has been spewing forth the most vile, hateful crap imaginable? Or how about the litany of "news" shows on Fox where there is no semblance of balance in viewpoints, and any dissenting voices that manage to make it onto the air are either interrupted, shouted down, or have their mics turned off? Sheesh! Is jokey sarcasm really more of a threat to our discourse?

I'm just sayin.'

posted by h0rk at 10:45 AM on October 16, 2008

Can viewers 18-28 tolerate political commentary WITHOUT humor? 18-38?

Everything has to be entertainment, or it will simply be tuned out.

posted by Michael Duff at 11:30 AM on October 16, 2008

Watch and listen to more of Maddow's show. She's articulate and argues with grace and wit.

It's probably the closest thing to actual portrayal of discourse on American Television. It's not a pre-bundled news report issued from some central advertising agency or frat boy humour delivered across a faux news desk.

Rachel Maddow is the real deal. Think Rhodes Scholar, Doctorate, Oxford.

Yes, the news isn't news and America is the Great Class Void and you deserve better. David Frum's point however missed it's mark because it wasn't directed toward the bull-shit but rather at someone who understands and has taken it upon herself to raise the bar.

And can Frum really talk about the state of the media when he's responsible for the brilliant speech stylings of people such as George Bush. Oh, and remember the debacle where he deliberately mis-represents statistics to support his thesis?

posted by anonymous at 8:37 AM on October 17, 2008

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