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November 23, 2010 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Salon.com's War Room is listing the worst columnists and cable news commentators America has to offer. The Hack 30 presents thirty of the most predictable, dishonest and just plain stupid pundits in the American media. Notables so far include: David Brooks Tucker Carlson Howard Kurtz and Bill Kristol.
posted by T.D. Strange (66 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
And pot takes an early lead, but kettle remains undaunted...
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:18 AM on November 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


Tucker Carlson is hypermasculine?
posted by Hoopo at 8:20 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hellava name David Kurtz has.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:20 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Prediction: Glen Beck for #1.
And this countdown is such utter traffic-driving crap "Check in later today for more!" No, I'll check in NEXT WEEK, thank you very much.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:21 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


They should do the top 30, but they (Salon) won't because they're irrelevant party-line echo chamber hacks.
posted by Mister_A at 8:23 AM on November 23, 2010


I can think of one MeFite who would certainly nominate Glenn Greenwald for the pantheon, but I doubt Salon is gonig to include him.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:30 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff - it's like The Beast's Most Loathsome People in America, All-Media Edition! - and I could honestly sit here handicapping the relative sins of David Brooks and Tom Friedman all day, but dear god why did they let someone who hates readers so much lay that thing out? I mean, could anyone else find links to Nos. 21-24 on a single page? Did I need to click through two sister sites to get there or something?
posted by gompa at 8:33 AM on November 23, 2010


David Brooks is totally the guy in the bear suit at the end of the Shining
posted by The Whelk at 8:37 AM on November 23, 2010 [21 favorites]


why did they let someone who hates readers so much lay that thing out?

Generally I don't like to complain about a post link's format, and just focus on the content, but DEAR GOD WHAT IS UP WITH THE POP UPS?
posted by Think_Long at 8:40 AM on November 23, 2010


So basically, what we've got here is a list of conservatives that Alex Pareene doesn't like.

I'm surprised he can keep it down to 30.
posted by valkyryn at 8:40 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maureen Dowd better be in the top five.
posted by Edgewise at 8:43 AM on November 23, 2010 [12 favorites]


Salon come interview me on my boat you guys it'll be fun.
posted by Mister_A at 8:45 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm. The only way I can find to navigate this is to replace the "30" in this URL:

http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/11/22/hack_list_30/index.html

with whichever numeral I wish to view.

Oh well. Pretty thin gruel anyway.
posted by GodricVT at 8:45 AM on November 23, 2010


Wonder where Keith Olbermann will place?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:45 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bah, American exceptionalism raises its ugly head: you guys don't have to deal with Margaret Wente or Don Cherry.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:47 AM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


"The magic is not felt by a lot of people. It's not felt, obviously, by a lot of less educated people, downscale people. They just look at Obama, and they don’t see anything. And so, Obama’s problem is he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who could go into an Applebee's salad bar, and people think he fits in naturally there."

(Note: Applebee's does not have salad bars.)


This, to me, pretty much sums up not just conservative op-ed columnists in particular but most op-ed columnists in general: someone who enjoys utilizing the appearance of being like their readers, but in actuality wouldn't be caught dead among them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:48 AM on November 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Needs more Cokie.
posted by Mid at 8:51 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm. The only way I can find to navigate this

It's a blog, so newer posts are on top. If you click on War Room in the OP then you can see all the posts laid out from newest to oldest.

I'm actually rather pleased with the whole selection. Claims that the bad actors have been chosen solely from the right-wing seem unsubstantiated. Mickey Klaus used to blog for Salon.com. Dana Milbank is a shinking example of the fact that liberal pundits can be just as assholish as conservative ones.

That's as far as I've read so far.
posted by muddgirl at 8:55 AM on November 23, 2010


Mickey Klaus used to blog for Salon.com.

Do you mean: Mickey Kaus used to blog for Slate?
posted by John Cohen at 8:59 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be faster to list the national columnists who weren't hacks?
posted by octothorpe at 9:00 AM on November 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


Howard Kurtz doesn't seem to have any sort of opinion at all, which makes him a hack in a different way. Tina Brown is rightfully included (her little "what am I reading right now" bit on Morning Edition is the worst part of my commute).

Do you mean: Mickey Kaus used to blog for Slate?

Yes, thanks. Name-dyslexia.
posted by muddgirl at 9:02 AM on November 23, 2010


Mickey Kaus and Dana Milbank are liberals, really? Because a lot of lib/progressive bloggers would take issue with that categorization, no matter how they self-define as (Kaus apparently thinks he's a neoliberal and I don't think Milbank has said one way or the other).
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:05 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


SE Cupp hunts deer with a shotgun? Really? I mean, I've heard of people doing this but I can't imagine why unless they're doing it in some sort of jungle.

Or is she just pandering very poorly?
posted by GodricVT at 9:08 AM on November 23, 2010


That's funny, I thought Slate had already been keeping a list of useless pundits for years.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:08 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because a lot of lib/progressive bloggers would take issue with that categorization, no matter how they self-define as (Kaus apparently thinks he's a neoliberal and I don't think Milbank has said one way or the other).

Milbank considers himself a center-left liberal, and I think a lot of Republicans would take issue with the categorization of some right-wing pundits.

The Democratic party considers itself to be a "big tent" party. We have to accept that there will be people out there calling themselves "liberal" who don't agree with the basic tenants of a liberal platform, and decide what to do about it. Or, we can keep doing what we've been doing and making our tent bigger and bigger.
posted by muddgirl at 9:10 AM on November 23, 2010



I can think of one MeFite who would certainly nominate Glenn Greenwald for the pantheon, but I doubt Salon is gonig to include him.


The sad thing, Joe, is that they'll probably also exclude Camille Paglia.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:18 AM on November 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


The way this series is being presented sucks. But S.E. Cupps is really fun to hate. She truly has it all. She illustrates the whole opportunistic, derivative, role playing, snake-eating-its-own-tail enchilada.

But I think that $elling liberals their own shock and outrage back to them is doing more to spread awareness and raise the profile of these charlatans than anything going on on their side.
posted by Trochanter at 9:25 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hellava name David Kurtz has.

Non-notables include commas.

This should wait at least until all 30 are announced (and printed in one list.)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:30 AM on November 23, 2010


SE Cupp hunts deer with a shotgun? Really?

I don't know where she's hunting, but I know there are sections of MN where deer hunting is done with shotguns. As in, rifles not allowed. Obviously, they're shooting slugs, not standard shot.
posted by kingbenny at 9:30 AM on November 23, 2010


So, this is all we know of this list, right?

No. 16: Michael Barone
No. 17: Bill Kristol
No. 18: Tina Brown
No. 19: ?
No. 20: ?
No. 21: S.E. Cupp
No. 22: Tucker Carlson
No. 23: Howard Kurtz
No. 24: Dana Milbank
No. 25: Mickey Kaus
No. 26: Jeffrey Goldberg
No. 27: Pat Caddell
No. 28: Andrew Malcolm
No. 29: Matt Bai
No. 30: David Brooks


Or am I just not finding the rest?
posted by washburn at 9:31 AM on November 23, 2010


SE Cupp hunts deer with a shotgun? Really? I mean, I've heard of people doing this but I can't imagine why unless they're doing it in some sort of jungle.

Or is she just pandering very poorly?


Shotgun hunting for deer is very common where I live in rural Wisconsin. For example, in my county it is illegal to hunt with rifles.
posted by greasy_skillet at 9:35 AM on November 23, 2010


Ten bucks says Andrew Breitbart is number one and Michelle "Anchor Baby" Malkin pitches a fit in her online "column" because she doesn't make the list...

Of course, without Olbermann on the list, it's status as definitive will be very suspect.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 9:37 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thoroughly discrediting bad (most) pundits would certainly be good for us (and possibly lead to all the world's children dancing hand in hand on a sunny hillside with rainbows and daffodils), but the way to do it is with a consistent methodology. IE, find all instances where each pundit made a prediction and was wrong, where each made a prediction and was right, etc. It'd be a huge amount of work to compile it all, but I'd love to see it done.
posted by condour75 at 9:38 AM on November 23, 2010


IE, find all instances where each pundit made a prediction and was wrong

I'm not sure what this article has to do with making accurate predictions*. I thought it was more to do with pundits lying their heads off, defending the indefensible, etc.

*Though I'd like to see that too. For example, how many talking heads in 2003 parrotted the WH line about the liberators being welcomed with flower petals thrown in their path?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:48 AM on November 23, 2010


Ten bucks says Andrew Breitbart is number one

My money is on Friedman.

I mean, all these guys suck. But Tommy Boy has actually entered the language.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:51 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Or am I just not finding the rest?

If you go to Pareene's Salon page, you can see all of them in order (and that this is seemingly the only place to find them all in one place is some impressively frustrating web design). 19 is Joe Klein and 20 is Howard Fineman.
posted by Copronymus at 9:57 AM on November 23, 2010


Needs more Cokie.

Indeed. Cokie Roberts reminds me of that particular class of rich people that wonder why the "homeless" simply don't move into their summer cottages for the time being.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:57 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Prediction: Glen Beck for #1.

He seems to be focusing primarily on written commentators- columnists, bloggers, etc. as opposed to TV pundits, and I think that makes a great separation from the "celebrity" wingnuts.

Assuming I'm right that he's sticking to that, my guess for top three are:

1. Andrew Brietbart
2. Megan McArdle
3. Glenn Reynolds
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:57 AM on November 23, 2010


Tom Friedman has served us well, though, as the butt of some of the funniest political satire out there. Viva la Moustachio de la Understandio!
posted by Trochanter at 9:59 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Or is she just pandering very poorly?

greasy_skillet : Shotgun hunting for deer is very common where I live in rural Wisconsin. For example, in my county it is illegal to hunt with rifles.

Shotgun slugs are extremely high power with a relatively short range when compared to a hunting rifle round. It, theoretically, allows for a quicker takedown due to a larger wound cavitation, with less chance of a round missing and going for a mile or so before connecting with something.

[Disclosure: gun guy, not a hunter.]
posted by quin at 10:04 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


1. This seems like a bunch of deliberate wank, and not even funny or interesting wank, just pure tedious-draw-it-out wank. Anyone one of use can create such a list, and most likely can knock it out in 3 or 4 hours complete.

2. Good lord Salon's website should be included on that list just for sheer annoying, difficult-to-navigate awfulness. It's like they did a test market to find out "exactly what will make our readers the most angry with our site design", all they are missing is the geo-location pop porn ads.
posted by edgeways at 10:07 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Slate had a good takedown on the extreme laziness of Cokie Roberts' commentary:
I can think of no comparably sized media space that's as void of original insight and information as Roberts'. Her segments, though billed as "analysis" by NPR, do little but speed-graze the headlines and add a few grace notes. If you're vaguely conversant with current events, you're already cruising at Roberts' velocity. Roberts doesn't just voice the conventional wisdom; she is the conventional wisdom.
posted by octothorpe at 10:10 AM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


all they are missing is the geo-location pop porn ads

If you have a better way for me to find the hot women in Salt Lake City who are eager to have sex with me, I'd like to hear it.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:19 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


If Bill Kristol were a stopped clock he'd still manage to make it through the day without ever being right. I get that the man is paid to lie, but you'd think he'd at least have the common courtesy to LIE WELL.

It would be fun to be a fly on Kristol's wall for an afternoon.

"Where's my cup of tea?"

"Your mug of coffee is right here, Bill."

"Did I hear the doorbell?"

"The phone rang. Do we need new gutters?"

"Of course not! These gutters are the finest American-made copper water-diversion devices ever made!"

"Bill, they're aluminum and made in China. And you had them installed INDOORS."

"A stroke of genius! I stand by that decision. We'll stop foundation erosion from the INSIDE-OUT!"

"Whatever. I'm gone for lunch. Can I bring you something?"

"A ham and cheese on white bread from that good kosher deli!"

"Uh, Bill..."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:20 AM on November 23, 2010 [18 favorites]


Tucker Carlson is hypermasculine?

Tucker Carlson is possibly the biggest closet case on cable TV. He habitually overcompensates by calling Rachel Maddow a man and boasting about how in high school he and his buddies smashed some cruiser's head against a toilet stall at Georgetown Park because the dude had been "bothering" him.

In Tuckie's inimitable words, "Having sex in a public men's room is outrageous. It's also really common."
posted by blucevalo at 10:52 AM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


My vote for #1 is for Jonah Goldberg--a combination of liberal-baiting, sheer unapologetic laziness and whining when he's called on his bullshit--although Megan McArdle wouldn't be #2 for lack of trying.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:54 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tom Friedman has served us well, though, as the butt of some of the funniest political satire out there.

That was great. Thanks.

"Who owns this hotel? And why did a person suffering from multiple personality disorder build a mosque inside it after blowing up the bar and asking if there was a room for the Jews? Why? Because his editor's been drinking rubbing alcohol!"
posted by mrgrimm at 11:02 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously, David Brooks? 30th? Complete with a hyperbolic Matt Taibi critique. Sigh.....
posted by dig_duggler at 11:03 AM on November 23, 2010


Huffington Post in its entirety should place somewhere.
posted by benzenedream at 11:17 AM on November 23, 2010


SE Cupp hunts deer with a shotgun? Really?

posted by GodricVT

I don't know where she's hunting, but I know there are sections of MN where deer hunting is done with shotguns. As in, rifles not allowed. Obviously, they're shooting slugs, not standard shot.

posted by kingbenny


Slugs or buckshot.
posted by Anephim at 11:20 AM on November 23, 2010


Lists like this are cheap and easy to do, but always seem to skirt around the real issue -- how people like this get so far and have the devoted following that they do despite the fact that reality never quite aligns to their interpretation of it. It reminds me of Encyclopedia Brown stories where Wilford Wiggins would spin a yarn and all the neighborhood kids were willing to invest their last penny in the latest scheme until Encyclopedia would have proof of the ridiculousness of the story -- yet no matter how many times Wiggins proved himself to be full of it, kids were always willing to give him another chance, but Encyclopedia always had to have proof before anyone would believe him.

A list like this is old news and adds absolutely nothing new -- a piece that can break the spell of people looking for a savior who merely tells them what they want to hear would be another story...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:25 AM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure what this article has to do with making accurate predictions*. I thought it was more to do with pundits lying their heads off, defending the indefensible, etc.

I think the Venn diagrams between the two groups would overlap quite a bit.

This FPP reminds me of a comment on Metafilter once, to the effect that in a rational world, no conservative pundit would have a job now, since every right wing talking head prediction about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were absolutely false (that it would be short, greeted as liberators, quick transition to democracy, oil would pay for the efforts, Kurds/Sunni/Shias will get along, etc.); while every liberal (and some moderate conservatives like Brent Scowcroft) criticism of these predictions turned out to be absolutely true. Yet, Bill Kristol & co. still have jobs. sigh
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 11:57 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It reminds me of Encyclopedia Brown stories where Wilford Wiggins would spin a yarn and all the neighborhood kids were willing to invest their last penny

I think it's because Wiggins seemed so folksy and normal -- like the kind of kid you could have a root beer with. Whereas Encyclopedia Brown was an effeminate (he had a girl for a bodyguard!), bookish, elitist, and shrill. Sure, he actually worked for his money and charged people a reasonable price; and he was always happy to share his knowledge in order to help others; and he dressed rather plainly, but he was still arrogant and out of touch with the real Idavillians.

I also like that Bugs Meany fellow: he's a real, strong, forceful leader, just like Idaville needs.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:12 PM on November 23, 2010 [21 favorites]


SE Cupp hunts deer with a shotgun? Really?

Slugs, or double-ought (or bigger) buckshot with a full choke. Not my choice, but workable.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:22 PM on November 23, 2010


Slugs, or double-ought (or bigger) buckshot with a full choke. Not my choice, but workable.

Yeah, those of us in more populous states don't get that choice.
posted by electroboy at 12:44 PM on November 23, 2010


yeah, I always thought the name 'buckshot' was pretty much about deer, and the rounds were for hunting them.

I'd love to talk about the list, but I couldn't find it, so I'll check back later when sanity and better webpage design come into play.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:20 PM on November 23, 2010


Friedman for #1

Hes just so unpredictable in which predictable narrative will be pulled out of the ass on a given day. Is the world flat? Was Iraq the best thing ever? Just how blameless is Israel? And just how amazing is American neocolonialism for both Americans and the colonized?

His ability to frame ideas reminds me of Colbert's, "George Bush: Great President or Greatest President? You Decide."
posted by Glibpaxman at 1:45 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hes just so unpredictable in which predictable narrative will be pulled out of the ass on a given day.

Fuck yeah, Friedman is the laziest of the lazy. He makes broad pronouncements on based on what he sees in the taxi ride to the hotel ("I saw a McDonalds billboard in New Dehli") and what some PR flack tells him and somehow spins that into a narrative. I don't always agree with Matt Taibbi, but his takedowns of Friedman are truly inspired.
posted by electroboy at 2:17 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


In naming George Will as #11, they say "his baseball writing is so bad as to defy parody."

I strenuously disagree with this.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:33 PM on November 23, 2010


He was ahead of his time with Men at Work and Bunts is in the neighborhood of decent but his baseball stuff over the last fifteen years or so has been aggressively incompetent.
posted by Kwine at 3:26 PM on November 23, 2010


He was ahead of his time with Men at Work and Bunts is in the neighborhood of decent but his baseball stuff over the last fifteen years or so has been aggressively incompetent.

Ah. It was those two books I was thinking of - and I've encountered none of it after that - so maybe that explains it.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:42 PM on November 23, 2010


... and then there's Will's screed about the Denim Menace!
posted by electroboy at 4:55 PM on November 23, 2010


All I'm trying to do, Salon, is read in order, from #30 down to the current one and I CAN'T DO, THAT, SALON! Where are the linky-links to do so??? YOUR WEBSITE IS AN UNHOLY MESS!

...whew, just had to get that out...I feel better now...
posted by zardoz at 10:10 PM on November 23, 2010


... and then there's Will's screed about the Denim Menace!

Well, that's the best laugh I've had all day. Has he done Motherhood and Apple Pie yet?
posted by brennen at 10:26 PM on November 23, 2010


Andrew Sullivan will be in the top 5. Deservedly so.
posted by bardic at 11:51 PM on November 23, 2010


Has he done Motherhood and Apple Pie yet?

Sexist and fattening, respectively.
posted by electroboy at 10:26 AM on November 24, 2010


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