Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Na-Na-Na Factor . . .

I'm starting today with Congress, although I could just as easily start with Glenn Beck. Because both
  1. talk a lot; and 
  2. taunt a lot, while they're talking. 
About Congress . . .

shockingly humorous study came to light yesterday in the waning hours of funded Federal government. As members of Congress postured and squabbled over a tiny fraction of the federal budget, Harvard Professor Gary King announced he's discovered that these people use 27% of their written communications to taunt colleagues. Members with so-called "safe" seats are the worst (best?) taunters.

From the Washington Post:
Prof. Gary King
“It’s jarring and surprising,” said Prof. Gary King, an expert in using computers to find patterns in large amounts of data. And, King said, probably counterproductive if we want Congress’s members to trust one another enough to make deals. 
“The entire government may go bankrupt, I guess. This week, right?” King said in a telephone interview. “We probably want our representatives to be listening to each other rather than calling each other names.”
There's really no need for me to comment on this. I'm sure you can come up with plenty of pithy observations of your own. And maybe, heaven forbid, a few taunts, as well!

On to Glenn Beck, arguably the Grand Master of Taunting ...

As David Folkenflik reported last night on All Things Considered and writes on
At long last, we have an answer to the enduring question: Is it possible for someone to be too incendiary, even for the Fox News Channel? 
And the answer is yes. 
Glenn Beck's daily spot on the nation's leading cable news station is coming to a close little more than two years after his start on Fox News. While his contract runs through December, his show is not expected to last that long. . . .
Photo credit: Jose Luis Magana/AP
It was about ratings and revenue, rather than about ethics or anything to do with ignoring that pesky journalistic mandate for confirming the truth of one's assertions. The LA Times writes:
... Less than three years after joining Fox News from CNN's Headline News amid a burst of publicity, Beck is being booted off the air. His sinking ratings certainly didn't help — they fell 32% for the first three months of this year, to 1.9 million total viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. 
And after months of reported friction between the host and Fox News as well as an aggressive advertiser boycott after Beck dubbed President Obama a racist, analysts professed little surprise. ... 
"The ratings drop was significant and couldn't be ignored," McCall continued. "The advertiser boycott didn't hurt the program or FNC as much in terms of dollars as it did in terms of bad publicity. Beck was no longer just a personality with a show on FNC. He became an easy target for Fox News critics to characterize him as representative of the entire channel."
Calling President Obama a racist certainly qualifies as taunting, don't you think? Does this mean that Glenn Beck, in effect, taunted himself off the Fox News air?

If so, does this mean that Americans, across the board, are finally tired of people constantly and unproductively na-na-na-ing away at each other?

Perhaps it would behoove our elected representatives to use Glenn Beck as a role model for how not to keep a job -- no matter how "safe" it is considered.

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