We Can Get It For Your Wholesale: Smarmy TV Wonks

As if we didn’t already have enough noxious, unintended side-effects from the growth of government, now we can add the epidemic of cable news commentators to the list.

It seems that Media Matters, that little shop of horrors liberal imagineers, has an intensive training program for would-be leftist pundits. I thought professional talking-heads spawned on damp piles of Roll Call, but there are really people who looked at the shrieking, baboon-like cacophony of cable news, and said “MORE! A THOUSAND TIMES MORE!

The brick carriage house is usually the headquarters of the Mathematical Association of America, but for a few days in the middle of March, the left-wing organization Media Matters for America converted it into a partisan boot camp where rebel forces were trained for combat on Fox News. Over four grueling days, Harvard-honed instructors drilled a dozen softie policy wonks, molding them into an elite unit of smiling, succinct and well-coiffed talking heads.

Since its inception in August 2009, the Progressive Talent Initiative, or PTI, has trained nearly 100 pundits who have appeared 800 times on television and radio. Media Matters uses that metric to pitch donors for more contributions, but its leadership believes that the surge of camera-ready liberals has recaptured lost ground in the media wars against conservatives. […]

Media Matters selected the coterie of attractive, articulate participants from 100 applicants, the largest pool so far. All in mid-career, the class included liberal think tank directors, former Capitol Hill staffers and presidential campaign aides, a pollster, a university professor, a combat veteran and contestants from both “American Idol” and “The Apprentice.” […]

The problem for the soldiers of the left, according to Media Matters instructors, is that they are just too smart for their own good. The traditional dependence on facts and figures, on being right, is no longer germane. Too often these wonks disappear into the policy weeds or fall through the cracks of nuance.

Eager to offer a conversion parable, the instructors showed a Fox News appearance by PTI graduate Taylor West, now a communications director for National Journal, in which her good-natured teasing bested a conservative expert on Web security. She knew virtually nothing about the issue and crammed for the interview in the makeup chair. […]

That’s right folks, Media Matters is publicly advocating the intentional and ideologically driven dumbing-down of news. THAT’S DAMN GOOD WATCH-DOGGIN’, BOYS! The rest of the article descends into tone-deaf liberal self-parody, about the food participants eat, and their clueless references to theater and Myspace. If you have chronically low blood pressure, it’s well worth a read.

And hey there, media-hatin’ conservatives, don’t worry. You aren’t losing the unqualified, blindly partisan, cable pundit arms-race; Leadership Institute Studios does much of the same work. Overall, I tend to agree with Reason’s Matt Welch:

I don’t see anything wrong with the concept (aside from the lack-of-disclosure bit). Cable punditizing is pretty weird, and takes getting used to. I’m mostly interested in how liberal, D.C.-based pundits in the Year of Our Lord 2011 can still be nursing the creation mythology that the cable television deck (to say nothing of the power that runs the country) is stacked against them, and that they are just too dang factual, dang it!

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2 Responses to We Can Get It For Your Wholesale: Smarmy TV Wonks

  1. Libby says:

    Excellent use of privilege denying dude, there.

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