On punditry and discourse


I’ve been critical of the style of argument for a long time. This little clip was very eye opening to me, confirming what I’ve suspected for a long time. Shows like Hannity’s America or Hardball have has much to do with debate as professional wrestling has to do with prizefighting.

10 Responses to “On punditry and discourse”

  1. enkidu Says:

    That guy does have great hair.

  2. knarlyknight Says:

    “has as much to do with debate as professional wrestling has to do with prizefighting.” I agree, assuming that by “debate” you mean a fair airing of the facts and arguments in order to arrive at reasonable conclusions.

    The thing is, there are different reasons for debate, just as there are different reasons for fighting/pro-wrestling: the No. 1 alternative reason is the cash to the promoters. No. 2 is entertainment value, some people love a good well refereed prize fight as much as others like the circus spectacle of pro-wrestling. No. 3 is the propaganda value, pro-wrestling is full of villains to be vanquished and prize fighting was in earlier times used as a means to “prove” racial superiorities. Debate (e.g. a good presidential debate) and punditry have all 3 alternative elements too.

    In regards to No. 3, punditry and biased talk show hosts are obvious attempts at controlling the thoughts of their viewers, and are often used in attempts to kill ideas that are not acceptible or popular, for example:

    That’s an example of a supposed serious discussion, but it is not very effective as few people are dumb enough not to see that Hannity and Colmes (or Kevin Barrett) are so entrenched in their positions that tehy might as well be talking in a pro-wrestling ring.

    In contrast, and just for the laugh at the end, here is a clip of the flip side i.e. entertaining “fiction” presenting facts:


  3. knarlyknight Says:

    Jayson – errata in your title: “pudintry” (sp.)

  4. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Damn, my reliance of spell check has made me weak.

    Knarly, I agree with you. To state a refined view; I see the shows featuring pundits as just capitalism in action. They get a lot of viewers, they get a lot of advertising, they stay on tv. The problem I have is that I think they’re seen by a lot of viewers as real, meaningful vehicles for discourse and/or the place where the ‘truth’ comes out.

    The boxing/pro wrestling comparison was meant to illustrate what I see as the difference in perception vs. reality. Boxing is a legitimate sporting contest, pro wrestling imitates one. I think a lot of viewers see O’Reilly or Olberman as legitimate purveyors of thought. I see them as merchandising brands and publishing promoters.

    There was a point in the history of pro wrestling where no one wanted to admit it was a staged spectacle. (Yes, I was a fan, say what you will.) Now you can see a lot of documentary about how wrestlers learn to do what they do without killing themselves. So to me that clip on the Daily show was the same thing, it was just admitting that the business of punditry wasn’t a legitimate sporting contest.

    Of course sometimes the pundits can be right and sometimes the fights are fixed.

  5. enkidu Says:

    no knarls he meant to use the word “pudenda”

  6. knarlyknight Says:

    Enk, LOL I had to look that up.

    Jayson – yeah, I got it.

  7. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Pedantic then, sorry.

  8. knarlyknight Says:

    Apology unnecessary, unless accompanied by pecuniary compensation.

    Besides, it’s nice that it made complete sense which is more than can be said about half the comments on this site…

  9. enkidu Says:

    Actually I was reading that pudenda is Latin for “shame” or “ashamed” so that might also work: a shameful display of argument for argument’s sake presented as entertainment. ;-)

  10. enkidu Says:

    personally I am looking forward to the next podcast
    (rattles tin cup against the bars in cage)
    can we get some service in here?!?

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