Monday, February 14, 2005

Journalism for Jerks

An interesting piece in the current issue of the Atlantic Monthly by media critic Joshua Green takes us behind the scenes of Qorvis Communications in Washington DC -- home of the first real traning school for television pundits.

Here's where business executives and second-rate pols learn how to stand up to such cable-channel smashmouths as O'Reilly, Hannity, and Matthews. Unfortunately the idea seems to be not one of mastering the fine art of debate, but rather, it's all about learning how to out-butthead the buttheads -- out-yelling, out-thumping, out-low-blowing the other guy and then giving a smarmy little smile as he cuts desperately to the commercial.

Ample evidence of the decline of civilized political discourse, sure. But there are some real insights in this piece on the cheesy manipulativeness of these shows. Consider this advice:

"When answering a question, look directly into the camera, put your message in a sound-bite format, and never pitch it above a seventh grade level."

One could suggest that certain members of the current administration are obvious graduates of the Qorvis program.

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