Viewers of the television political talk shows may have noticed a phenomenon in the afterbirth of the last presidential election. High-powered consultants from both campaigns have invaded the studios as panelists, chewing over the political events of the day beside career reporters and analysts who had recently been covering them.
From the winning Obama team, chief campaign strategists David Axelrod and David Plouffe and deputy Stephanie Cutter have signed with such shows, as have Kevin Madden of the Romney campaign and other Republicans. Thus has the pool of commentators been broadened to include special pleaders, on sabbatical until the next campaign.
Which is bullshit. It was bullshit when Carville and Co. did it, and it’s bullshit now. It’s not like there is a nationwide journalist shortage. There are great reporters all over who are unemployed. Hire any six of them and they’ll kick everybody’s ass. If I wanted to hear what Romney’s advisors had to say constantly, I’d have voted for him.
However, this problem arose because of lazy management, ratings chasing, and stupidity. Not because of blogs, which is where this thing goes entirely off the rails:
Not only that. With the advent of the Internet, the art of the blog has been born and has flourished, the moniker being an abbreviation of “web log,” meaning logging onto the web. A blogger has an unlicensed license to offer all manner of views, speculations, rumors or just plain fantasies to a receptive audience with or without forethought.
The same goes for the addict of Twitter, which requires the product to be squeezed into 140 characters no matter how complex the matter to be discussed may be. All this seems to come under the rubric of today’s journalism when much of it is the functional equivalent of radio static on an old Philco crystal set.
An unlicensed license? You mean the First Amendment? You mean that everybody can say everything all the time on the Interwebs and people STILL HAVE TO SORT OUT WHAT’S CRAP AND WHAT’S NOT? Why, it’s almost like having to differentiate between supermarket tabloids and the Baltimore Sun. I mean, they both have words in them!
Can someone please inform the bitter Twitter-hating olds of the world that you can send more than one Twitter message? “You can’t talk about particle physics in 140 characters!” Sure you can. You can talk about everything in 140 characters. Sometimes you need 140 more, and 140 more after that, but you can do it.
Meanwhile, the participating reporters, with less of a partisan ax to grind, often are moved to a bit of showboating to hold their own in the verbal tussles that result.
They just can’t help it. They can’t, say, decide not to be hacks, and go on about their lives, shopping for groceries and watching Mad Men. They are moved to hold their own. By the Internet, presumably, and logging onto the web.
This piece of commentary, by the way, is accompanied by a small informational graphic to help you blog or tweet it.
Use your unlicensed license to do that, kids.