R.J. Moeller wrote an interesting post for The American Spectator’s The Spectacle Blog Tuesday, in which he devastatingly mocked his “least favorite pundit” and Editor & Publisher of the Nation, Katrina Vanden Heuvel. Her insipid parroting of Obama talking points on Snuffy from Sesame Street’s Sunday Talk Show annoyed Mr. Moeller enough to get him to write his rebuff, and I’m thankful that he did. However, while I DO enjoy a good rhetorical double teaming of a liberal pundit, it wasn’t my desire to aid R.J. in his pummeling of Mrs. Vanden Heuvel that led me to respond to his piece. Rather, it was the way R.J. set his piece up that inspired this follow-up.
Here’s his opening paragraph:
Anyone who even just casually follows politics has a least favorite pundit. For many on the left side of the aisle, it seems to be a guy like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh. For those on the Right, Chris Matthews or Bill Maher might take top prize in an unpopularity contest.
The idea that most of us political junkies have a “least favorite pundit” is a novel concept. It also seems, at least in my opinion, to be a very accurate concept as well. Using myself as an example, I’ve found that there are very few liberal pundits who get under my skin as much as Jon Stewart does, and, that being the case, I relish any chance I get to take him down a peg or cut through his clown act.
There’s just something about how he acts, the way he packages (dis)information, the way he baselessly derides conservatives with a smirk and a sneer, that elicits an emotional response from me the way that no other liberal airhead does.
Reflecting on that fact brought me to a pretty significant realization: Pundits are trolls.
And not only are they trolls, they’re in-demand trolls.
The job of a troll is to distract you from your arguments, eat up your time and energy, and to be so obnoxious as to demand a response. Those traits also happen to make a very compelling case for trolls-as-content-providers. Think about it; when are you most engaged while watching cable news, sports networks, or pretty much any other opinion-heavy form of media? Is it when you generally agree with the host’s bland opinions as they try to offer “fair” takes on whatever they’re discussing?
Not for me.
I’m usually the most engaged when something I hold dear is under attack. Be it by a host, a guest, a caller, or even by the circumstances of the story itself – if you try to mess with something I like, you’re probably going to get my attention. That’s one of the reasons that conservative talk radio is so successful, it reveals the threat that the leftists pose to our country, and will oftentimes do so with soundbites from leftist trolls in the media and government.
But it’s not just liberal trolls that make conservative talk radio tick, it also has a lot to do with conservative trolls. People like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Mark Levin made their careers through liberal baiting and trolling. Listeners enjoy hearing people on our team “counter-troll” liberals using the same tactics of humor and derision (You schmuck, get off the line!) that are so often used against us in the mainstream media; it’s cathartic.
Hell, that’s why I read Ace Of Spades every day and watch Red Eye every night. Ace & Greg Gutfeld are the two best trolls we have at the moment, holding posts once held by Buckley and Breitbart, and they are damn good at what they do.
But we need more trolls to join our ranks, more distracted dems, and more reminders to the non-trolls among us of how to react to those who would troll them if we want to win back the higher ground in the flame war that is our media.
It’s going to be a tough fight, but I have a feeling we’re going in the right direction.