Web Letters | The Nation

The Problem of Media Stupidity

“Stupid” like a… Fox?

The problem with characterizing this kind of journalism as “stupid” is that to do so, one must presume that the flawed journalism is not intentional.

Lex Alexander

Greensboro, NC

Sep 16 2011 - 10:37pm

The Problem of Media Stupidity

Limited brain activity

In reading the responses to this article, I was heartened to see that so many right-wing ideologues are reading The Nation, albeit without grasping the substance of Alterman’s essay. While reading the essay itself, I had to laugh when I saw both examples were going to be about David Gregory—not that there aren’t lots of gob-smacking examples of limited brain activity all over the corporate media dials, but David Gregory is especially knuckleheaded and does look perpetually as though even he can’t believe he got that job. My personal favorite example continues to be George Stephanopoulos sitting idly by while Rudy Giuliani floated the whopper, "We had no domestic terror attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama." I saw The War Room. I know he used to have a brain. Do you suppose it was liquefied when they showed him the money?

Michele Sutter

Venice, CA

Sep 16 2011 - 6:29pm

The Problem of Media Stupidity


Eric, your bilge is published. To allow that, and to censor others, fits in rather well with the Stalinist model, don’t you think? Note to Robert White: Excellent letter, sir. I commend you for your erudition as well as for your patience.

Jack Davis

Phoenix, AZ

Sep 16 2011 - 2:03am

The Problem of Media Stupidity

Dear Sir:

I know you are an English Professor in New York City’s public university system, but must you be so insulting to those with whom you disagree? Didn’t you ever learn that one may disagree without being disagreeable?

As for Rick Perry’s position on global warming, at least his claim of a conspiracy by a substantial number of scientists is a provable fact; whereas the theory that man-made carbon emissions on a planet with all carbon-based life-forms will destroy the earth is not so easily provable. That’s why the scientists in England had to conspire to fudge the numbers.

Why is it that you feel it is appropriate for the stupid media to parrot your positions, yet it is tantamount to journalistic malpractice to even present opposing positions? Why does a scholar such as yourself, who espouses democratic and Democratic ideals, poke fun at the Ames Straw Poll, an exercise in democracy?

Mr. Alterman, since you have earned a PhD in history from Stanford University, certainly you must know that the succession of South Carolina in and of itself didn’t start the Civil War. You must also know that Texas was an independent republic before the annexation in 1845 by a joint resolution of the Republic of Texas and our own republic. Furthermore, you must also know that our federal system allots most of the day-to-day power for governing to states and municipalities.

Furthermore, you are either dissembling or misinformed when you aver that Obamacare doesn’t create any significant new government bureaucracies to help implement it. Indeed, there are hundreds, and if this leviathan is permitted to blossom, it will choke the life’s breath out of our economy and our medical system.

Sir, you may be one of the few intellects in America who denies the existence of European socialism. People riot in the streets across the Atlantic because the European states can’t afford it anymore. That is also why the people are finally choosing conservative governance.

Please forgive me if I decline to try to address your second example of Republican stupidity. Suffice it to say that the allegedly maligned public service workers in Wisconsin still have more power and collective bargaining rights than their fellow public service workers in the federal government and in many of the forty-nine other states.

Sir, I understand your perspective. I saw things in much the same way when I was a student at Brooklyn College many years ago, where I was also incubated in New York City’s liberal echo chamber. However, I broadened my field of view after I moved away.

Very respectfully,

Robert White

New Orleans, LA

Sep 15 2011 - 10:50pm

The Problem of Media Stupidity

Juvenile ad hominem attacks

Yes, let’s call the GOP “stupid,” and why not go for the whole boat and call them rascist, homophobic, xenophobic sexist bigots. Whew. The name calling in Eric Alterman’s writings is beyond junior high school juvenile. It is grade-school level nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah nah tripe. Do you actually pay this guy to write his slop attacks against the right? I’ll tell you this, whenever I see a byline by Eric Alterman, I will think: liberal hack Manhatten liberal hack blah blah blah and go read something that actually presents a well-reasoned and logical argument based upon a foundation of facts instead of sneering condescending prejudicial opinion. ROTFLMFAO at you, Eric. (If you did pay him, you should get your money back. My 9-year-old could write better material).

John Wieser

Napier, IL

Sep 15 2011 - 6:36pm

The Problem of Media Stupidity

False premise

The idea that the left-of-center media in this country (which is most of them, and seem to be the media this author is talking about) is fair to Republicans and their ideas in the first place is laughable. If you believe that the media were fair to John McCain, or are fair to any of the current Republicans in the running for president, or indeed that they are fair to most conservatives as a whole, then you are in the distinct minority. Polls have repeatedly shown that the public understands that the media are left of center and friendly to liberals, their politicians and their ideas.

Rob Hruska

Sacramento, CA

Sep 15 2011 - 6:00pm

The Problem of Media Stupidity

False equivalence

Alterman takes to task David Gregory for “trying to create a sense of moral and intellectual equivalence between Rick Perry’s 2009 suggestion that Texas might secede from the United States—an action that set off the Civil War when South Carolina did it in 1860—and Obama’s proposal and Congress’s passage of a healthcare reform bill modeled on the one put in place by Mitt Romney when he was the Republican governor of Massachusetts.” Fair enough. But the problem with his article is that he seeks to forge the same sort of flimsy bridge between those on the Republican side who use the word “socialism” as a catch-all for any left-of-center proposition and those foreign enemies of America who absurdly deny the Holocaust. These two groups are different in kind and deserve not to be lumped together, however much each succeeds in pushing Alterman’s buttons. In any case, as it turns out, Gregory was probably referring to the Scandinavian countries of Europe he exempted from his rhetorical inquiry.

Alex Keller

Rumson, NJ

Sep 15 2011 - 4:47pm

The Problem of Media Stupidity

Pot, kettle

Alterman is a typical conceited, arrogant liberal who believes that any person who disagrees with him is an idiot. I wonder if he has any scientific backround that permits him to make such sweeping judgements about things like global warming. I suggest to you that he is the idiot.


Bill van Rensburg

Austin, TX

Sep 15 2011 - 4:40pm

The Problem of Media Stupidity

Press the press

Gail Collins has a great article nailing the hypocrisy of Rick Perry’s “concern” for the health of his adolescent female constituency. Of course, Perry also has made certain we all know that he has pledged his soul to the lord, and even kicked off his campaign with a fundamentalist Christian pep rally. In the several hundred remaining GOP primary debates, will one journalist have the temerity to ask Perry what passages of the holy book he relied upon to shortcut the investigation into the Willingham death penalty so that the execution of an innocent man likely occurred? Who will press the press?

Asher Fried

Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Sep 15 2011 - 3:17pm

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