Get A Better Metaphor

by Conor Friedersdorf

A reader writes:

Regarding the piece by Conor on Olbermann: He writes as if Keith's show happened in a vacuum. "Why don't you read a newspaper?" To not acknowledge the full-on bile spewing from Faux News is wrong. Liberals needed a voice of their own. There were countless man-hours being spent at the number one "news" org spewing lie after lie. To say liberals should have just picked up a book is like suggesting they bring a knife to a bazooka fight. Night after night the jackals at Fox were telling less-well-read people (who, like it or not, only get their news from teh TV) multiple lies. Olbermann is a hero on the left BECAUSE he brought some fight in his game.

The problem here is imagining that war analogies map onto public discourse. In a war, the object is to kill the people on the other side. So bringing a knife to a bazooka fight isn't very effective. But in politics, the object is to persuade as many people as possible that your side has better ideas for running America.

A guy like Olbermann isn't suited for that task. What he's good at is making people who already agree with him feel relief that someone is on their side. His angry demeanor is an asset in that project, but it's not helpful in actually pushing the country in the direction that progressives would like it to go. I'd suggest that folks who use this silly knife and bazooka analogy reflect on the politicians who are elected in the United States. Check out our presidents and senators. You won't find a lot of people who take the bazooka approach to public discourse. Angry, self-righteous bile spewing isn't actually effective.