#24: a quick rant against stupid political articles

For those of you who care what I read, I spend a lot of time on Salon. Too much time, I’m sure. It has, obviously, much to do with my leftist leanings. In general, I think they do a decent job. However, sometimes the choice to run an article makes me question if the editors periodically elect to hand their jobs over to a group of monkeys, possibly during a breakfast or lunch break. Case in point: this.

It’s from a staff writer at Salon, Andrew Leonard. I understand the function of “headlines” is to create page hits; however, the following article borders on gross misleading or just plain stupidity. A Silicon Valley head honcho changes his twitter pic or whatever, and suddenly this means all of Silicon Valley’s libertarians are suddenly backpedaling into some version of left-wing thinking. Not only does the article fail to actually address the headline, it uses a picture change as an excuse to bring up the divide between two different lines of political thought. In doing so, it only highlights the degree to which “journalists” will go in order to create controversy. Political journalism’s controversy should develop from actual reporting–of facts, of grounded opinions, of articulated thesis; instead, with this shoddy attempt at discrediting a libertarian view (which, mind you, I disagree with most libertarian stances, except for the end to the drug war and the reduction of our military presence), we get, at best, a sad overreach at interpretation, and, at worst, just a desire to get site clicks. Included in this is the author’s assumption that the change of pic from Ayn Rand to Alexander Hamilton is because the head honcho ‘has discovered that disrupting the existing taxi monopolies in the world’s great cities is easier said than done. Safety and health regulations, insurance issues — there are all kinds of nasty hoops to jump through if you want to make a big business of transporting citizens around urban metropolises. Like it or not, Silicon Valley’s most ambitious start-ups will be forced to work with government, instead of blowing it up.’

I don’t disagree with the sentiment; I wildly disagree with the starting point that then manifests itself into this sentiment. It’s poor analysis–a way to drum up interest in one’s personal opinions without actually announcing its one’s personal opinion. If you want to write about why Alexander Hamilton’s thoughts on governance are superior to Ayn Rand’s, then just own it. If you want to bash the inherent fallacies of the libertarian approach, then write an article about it, feel free to use A. Hamilton and A. Rand all you want in it, go bonkers, mr. journalist. But don’t try to create an overarching description of an entire subgroup of political participants; it’s the same type of shoddy journalism that Salon constantly tries to debunk coming out of Fox News. It’s shameful and contributes nothing to the political discourse we so greatly need to improve.

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