Archive - Jul 28, 2008

Frum Here To Stupidity

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David Frum is angry. David Frum is upset. David Frum may not actually be in a tizzy, but You Are Dumb Dot Net's DopplerPlus ChildSafe Weathalert Stupidity Radar has him approaching a tizzy at forty miles an hour, with gusts up to fifty-five. And why is this? Why are David Frum's panties in such a bunch that they approach Panty Singularity? Because someone had the audacity, the unmitigated gall, to edit his televised interview to make him sound stupid.

Now, normally, I would be unsympathetic to David Frum, on the grounds that, well, he's David Frum, and Frum's always been kind of a fucktard. On the other hand, playing fast and loose in the editing booth IS one of the many crimes against humanity committed on a regular basis by the news media. So, which bastion of alleged journalistic ethics warped Frum's words? ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"I was certainly impressed to see a clip of myself in the Stephen Colbert program Monday night. The clip, which runs from 5:20 to 5:27 in the broadcast, has me saying this: 'Here you have one of - the oldest man ever to seek the presidency. When you look at the polls, you can see there is much less enthusiasm for his candidacy. That's a pretty exciting story.' Colbert wryly comments afterward: 'Exactly. McCain is old and nobody likes him. That's an exciting story.'"

Oh. Guess I can safely wrap my sympathy in linen and pack it away in my cedar chest. Looks like I won't be needing it anytime soon. Frum's upset that he got taken out of context by a comedy show. I toyed, briefly, with the notion that Frum didn't realize The Colbert Report was comedy, but no, he actually thinks Stewart and Colbert should be held to standards as high as their cable news counterparts.

"In making their point, they themselves violate every kind of journalistic ethical rule. They say, "It's OK for us - we're fake news." That's a convenient excuse. But it's not really an adequate one. Yes, the blow-harding and bias and herd mentality of the rest of the cable media are pretty bad. But outright deception? A few days ago, Colbert scoffed at my friend David Brooks for referring to the "salad bar" at Applebee's - when Applebee's doesn't feature salad bars. An error - how ridiculous! But conscious fabrication? I guess that's OK, so long as it's done in the sacred name of comedy."

Frum's choice of analogy is awesomely hypocritical. First, nobody scoffed at David Brooks for merely referring to the salad bar at Applebee's. By taking Brooks' quote out of context, Frum deliberately hides the fact that Brooks was giving his expert opinion on Obama's ability to connect with everyday Americans. It's funny because Brooks doesn't know shit about connecting with everyday Americans, as evidenced by his thinking Applebee's has a FUCKING SALAD BAR. It wasn't just an error, it was an error that exposed how foolish it is to listen to anything David Brooks has to say.

On the other hand, the "conscious fabrication" of Frum's words wasn't even used to make fun of Frum! I watched that episode as it aired, and I didn't even notice it WAS Frum. He wasn't edited to be the punchline, he was edited to be the SETUP. Frum wasn't made to look particularly stupid by the Colbert Report. Especially compared to the full context of his remarks, revealed by Frum himself in his whiny little blog post:

"Barack Obama is one of the most — maybe he used to be interesting, but in this campaign he's been one of the most boring candidates ever. Content-free speeches, (INAUDIBLE). Meanwhile, in contrast — and if, by the way, the shoe were on the other foot, every journalist in America would see it. Here you have one of the — the oldest man ever to run for president, winning his party's nomination against the odds through sheer hard work and tenacity, and getting up earlier and campaigning harder than men 20 years his junior? That's a pretty exciting story.

Dude, Colbert did you a FAVOR. You spent five minutes trying to fluff John McCain's flaccid campaign on CNN in what appears to be a desperate attempt to diminish Obama's foreign trip. You should be thankful Colbert distilled your remarks down to seven seconds, but you're too damn busy marking down timecodes and missing the point to realize how easily you could have been the punchline.

Needless to say, Frum's concern with assembled quotes stops with Colbert. It's odd how he doesn't even mention the biggest fabricated quote of the past week - when CBS took bits from two different questions to hide the fact that John McCain credited the troop surge of 2007 for the Anbar Awakening of 2006. Katie Couric's crew trimmed all the bad parts out of the answer, lifted some words from another answer to help rebuild the word count, and when called on it, claimed it was just "time constraints" and didn't change the meaning of what McCain said.

But to David Frum, his seven seconds of Colbert Report faux fame are much more worthy of attention. Because Frum's a narcissistic, hypocritical clown.