Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Beyond journalism and into judgment

At the beginning of each semester teaching writing so far, I’ve faced two obstacles. The first is unlearning 5-paragraph essay format, which most high schoolers learn as rote as any Gospel.

The other is elevated diction. Somewhere along the way, most students have discovered that their high school teachers are impressed by their use of the vocabulary contained in the SAT, no matter how inappropriate a word choice. My instruction is simplicity: I tell my student I am a writer and have read widely enough that they’ll never impress me with their words, only their ideas.

I recently caught this video, with Keith Olbermann’s comments on the Geraldine Ferraro racist-remarks fiasco:

Apparently, someone needs to tell Keith to scale it down a bit.

“In your tepid response to this Ferraro disaster, you may sincerely think you are disenthralling an enchanted media–”

I mean, seriously.

Now I admit, I’ve liked Olbermann. His comments on the end of habeus corpus were terrific.

And maybe it’s because he’s a commentator that he goes beyond journalism and into judgment (“disaster”?).

But seriously, this buttoned-up guy with his mile-wide pinstripes is the same dude who gave SportsCenter the “en fuego” catchphrase, is he not?

When Jon Stewart was on Crossfire, he mentioned the theater of political comentary. Olbermann seems to prove pretty well that theater is not restricted to Tucker Carlson’s bow tie.

After the Nader debacle, I changed my startpage from MSNBC to CNN. It’s not much better. Are there any good news venues any more? Right now I’m set on the New York Times, but even that doesn’t feel like exactly what I’m looking for.

Also: isn’t Clinton’s lack of response precisely what she attacked Obama for, when he didn’t outright reject Farakhan’s endorsement?

And finally: Geraldine Ferraro? Seriously? I respected her, once upon a time. But I don’t respect racists.


  1. It’s hard to tell if things are getting worse or if hindsight highlights the best parts so we think the past was better because we don’t look at the whole picture. However, because we live in the present we’re forced to look at the whole picture which can make the past appear better when we’re only looking at what is highlighted. (Did I phrase that right?

    As far as finding a news network that you can really enjoy goes; have you completelty ruled out the BBC yet?

  2. As a professor, how would you grade Gothamgirl’s comment? I didn’t quite understand her.
    Anyway, you’re right, Keith seems to be a bit en fuego himself!

  3. @Gotham: I try never to rule anyone out. That I ruled MSNBC out after using it consistently for a decade demonstrates how egregious I thought they were.

    @Kip: It’s spring break. Must I really think about grading? And I think en fuego meant someone was doing good; he seems more en fluster. Also, I think it looks like he’s put on a few pounds, which might be the reason for the ostentatious pinstripes.

  4. Well, when people think of news they ussually don’t think of the BBC… or the Nakked news… or Sesame Street News… or my news. I just thought I would suggest the BBC in case you didn’t really think about it.

    Yes, let’s not grade Helen. Grading Helen ove spring break will end in Helen curling into the fetal position in a corner of the hours she dwells in. It’s not as much fun as it sounds.

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