Posted by MEC on February 24, 2007
Matt Taibbi’s observation about what is and isn’t news brilliantly summarizes the folly of the so-called “news” media:
My definition of a news story involves something happening. If nothing happens, then you can’t have “news,” because nothing has changed since the day before. Britney Spears was an idiot last Thursday, an idiot on Friday, and an idiot on both Saturday and Sunday. She was, shockingly, also an idiot on Monday.
With only minor variations, this observation applies to so very many situations beyond the misadventures of the unfortunate Ms. Spears.
The most recent example is the so-called “news” media’s excitement over the possibility, or the veiled hints, or maybe just the so-called “news” media’s own wishful thinking that Joe Lieberman will join the Republican Party.
First, this is not news because It’s Not Going To Happen. Anybody who’s been paying the slightest attention will know that Lieberman has every reason not to switch parties. I don’t mean Lieberman’s repeated statements that he won’t join the Republican Party; we know exactly what his word is worth. I mean the overwhelming evidence that Lieberman’s #1 priority is his own prestige and power. He won’t get any reward for switching parties: it won’t switch control of the Senate to the Republicans, so the Republicans can’t offer him anything that will increase his prestige. He’ll just lose prestige by losing his committee chair and his seniority, which depend on his caucusing with the Democrats. Arguably worse from his point of view, he’ll lose his ability to get the Democrats to dance to his tune.
Second, it’s not news because “nothing has changed since the day before”. It doesn’t even have novelty value. “Breaking News: Lieberman Lieberman said something that clueless people interpret as a hint that he’ll switch parties, the sun rose in the east, and the Detroit Lions had a losing season.”
Here’s a clue for the so-called “news” media: Lieberman Lieberman was a dishonest weasel last Thursday, a dishonest weasel on Friday, and a dishonest weasel on both Saturday and Sunday. He was, shockingly, also a dishonest weasel on Monday. The pattern is consistent enough that you can expect him to be a a dishonest weasel into the foreseeable future. When rumors resurface that he’s going to create “news” by switching parties [again], please to remember that this is not news, and give it just as much of your attention that non-news requires, i.e. none.
And by the way, neither is it news when Lieberman issues another assurance that he’s not going to caucus with the Republicans. He’s just doing it for the attention, you should realize. The more you give him attention for making empty threats, the more he’s going to keep yanking your chain and wasting your time.
Wouldn’t you rather be spending your time covering real news stories?
Oh, wait. Forget I asked.
4 Responses to “Taibbi’s Law”
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.