Vacuous Media: A Case Study

VACUOUS MEDIA: A CASE STUDY…. Following on an item from yesterday, the Washington Times ran a fairly long article about President Obama making public appearances in front of American flags. The point of the piece … well, actually, it wasn’t entirely clear why the article was published. Apparently, the Times, an unabashed conservative paper and a project of cult-leader Sun Myung Moon, found it necessary to connect bogus flag-pin talking points, bizarre Michael Savage rhetoric, and the routine practice of flags at presidential events.

What I didn’t realize yesterday was how fascinating the Villagers would find this nonsense.

Despite the inanity of the Times‘ pointless piece of “journalism,” ABC News’ The Note described the piece as a “must read.” It didn’t say why. The Politico‘s Mike Allen noted, “Cable’s gonna go cuckoo over this.” As Greg Sargent explained, the Times “made a valiant grab for a Drudge link,” and predictably enough, got one.

Remember, the article didn’t actually say anything. It was 743 words about the President of the United States making public appearances with American flags. That’s it.

Matt Yglesias explained why this is so painfully stupid.

Naturally, it got its Drudge link. All for a story about nothing. Allen’s response is, I think, the most infuriating. Everyone knows that Mike Allen is an important political reporter. His morning “Playbook,” in particular, helps set the agenda for the whole next day of moronic political buzz. When he writes up a stupid story, he’s not passively predicting that people will be buzzing about it, he’s helping to make it happen. In this case, it didn’t work. Today’s cable news has, overwhelmingly, been about an actual policy question — Obama’s housing plan. And good for cable. But no thanks to Mike Allen.

It seems we’ve reached a point in which pseudo-journalists create pseudo-news content for the sole purpose of drawing the attention of people like Drudge, Allen, and the people behind The Note. Indeed, they’ve apparently learned quite well exactly what works — publish a news-free article about the president and flags, and wait for the chatter.

To paraphrase the “Field of Dreams,” if you write it, they will link.

Want to appreciate just what’s wrong with the insular culture of the political media? This is a good place to start.