The sin of erudition…

In an age in which most Americans experience politics by watching television, media strategy–image building–becomes more important than policy. TV just can’t deliver the propositional content necessary for understanding the complicated issues of our society. So these get ignored.

Popular wisdom says the Republicans have a better image because they have a more coherent and cohesive message. Popular wisdom says that conservative TV pundits played a role in the 2002 mid-term elections by delivering this coherent and cohesive message. Popular wisdom says the Democrats had better get hip to this trend and develop a few media stars of their own.

Maybe. As I have said before, liberals have a difficult time creating a cohesive over-message. The reason I cite helps create the situation one Hollywood producer described for The New York Times:

“Most liberal talk shows are so, you know, milquetoast, who would want to listen to them? Conservatives are all fire and brimstone.”

Interesting metaphor. And right on point. Conservatives tend to place defense of their moral hierarchy in the top position of that hierarchy. This helps create a top-down structure that in turn creates moral clarity and superior message control. That’s one source of the “fire and brimstone,” which, like an old-fashioned tent revival, creates a more emotional and entertaining product suited for television.

Liberals, on the other hand:

“Progressives have this problem: They sound too erudite, it’s like eggheads talking at you,” [Congressional staffer Tom] Athens said. “We believe that progressive talk radio can be every bit as successful as conservative talk radio if people present and format a show that people like.”

Liberals, in general, are far more idiosyncratic about their moral hierarchy. Agreement about which value should lead depends in many cases upon the focus of the particular faction. Environmentalists, for example, will have an entirely different hierarchy compared to labor activists. How do you find a message–a talking point–they will agree should precede or supersede their factional message? Tough to do.

And there’s the point I haven’t even mentioned yet (but long-time Rhetorica readers know I can’t leave unmentioned): entertainment’s intrusion into politics. Since when is erudition a political sin? Since TV. (via BuzzMachine)