December 19, 2013 7:24 AM Subscribe
The 2013 edition of Salon's annual Hack List is out, and this year, Salon hackmaster Alex Pareene has stirred the pot of hackery by "channel[ing] each hack's unique voice" and "let[ting] them 'write' their own entries."
2013's Hackiest of the Hacks, according to Pareene:
10. Malcolm Gladwell
2013's Hackiest of the Hacks, according to Pareene:
10. Malcolm Gladwell
"Malcolm Gladwell" on Malcolm Gladwell:9. Thomas Friedman3
We all agree that good writers are better than bad writers, and it logically follows that good books are better than bad books. It may seem like an author's best bet is a write a good, well-written book that respects its readers' intelligence. After all, isn't that true of most of the most famous and successful books throughout history? We assume that a good writer is more likely to be successful at writing professionally than a bad one. No parents would wish for their children to be bad writers.
Or would they?
What if, sometimes, being repetitive, sloppy and dishonest - and being all of those things repeatedly, as more and more people begin to publicly call you out - is more likely to lead to respect, wealth and success than trying to write honestly and carefully about big and important issues?
What if, sometimes, a bad writer is better than a good writer?
Could writing bad books be better than writing good ones?
"Thomas Friedman" on Thomas Friedman8. Peggy Noonan10
As I wrote down what he said to use it in my column, it struck me that the world is changing. The world used to be flat. Now, everyone I talk to, everywhere I go, tells me something is bending the world into a new shape. This 4G, 401(k) world is getting rounded. That scares a lot of people. But it doesn't scare Thomas Friedman. Because while some old media dinosaurs are going extinct thanks to the asteroid of globalization and the giant dust plume of hyperconnectivity, Friedman is a cockroach. A cockroach made of stone. A cockroach made of stone that lives in The Cloud.
For a long time, the New York Times was vertical. It was longer top-to-bottom than side-to-side — unless you opened it up. Now, no one opens up the New York Times physically, they open it in their Web browsers. Suddenly, the New York Times is horizontal — until you scroll. That changes everything. Now the New York Times is horizontal and vertical. What does that mean for Thomas Friedman? It means fasten your seatbelt. You're not going anywhere.
"Peggy Noonan" on Peggy Noonan7. Henry Blodget
Ms. Noonan doesn't know how things work. She doesn't know that signs on lawns aren't the same thing as scientific polls. She doesn't understand which side of the political spectrum supports deficit-funded government intervention to create jobs. She looks at Pittsburgh, at its airport, and she says, "Hey, this is a depressing place." She doesn't know that American cities, not Washington and New York but the shorter, more honest cities in the interior, have neighborhoods, and hotels even, that aren't by the airport. It's outside of her experience. She lives in words, in parenthetical clauses within sentences. She says, "America is in line at the airport." America says, most of us only ever fly over the holidays.
"Henry Blodget" on Henry Blodget6. Erick Erickson6
A little while ago, Henry Blodget went to a restaurant to talk with Nick Denton, a man who owns some different websites that are in some ways similar to Business Insider but in other ways different. Henry Blodget went to the bathroom at the restaurant. The restaurant is very expensive, so it is mostly for rich people. This expensive fancy restaurant had an employee whose job was to stay in the bathroom for his entire shift and then help people wash and dry their hands.
This man was paid a little bit of money by the restaurant, but he mostly worked for "tips," which is extra money customers give certain employees who aren't paid very much by their bosses.
The man whose job it was to stand in the bathroom all day made Henry Blodget uncomfortable. He forced Henry Blodget to think about things that maybe Henry Blodget didn't want to think about when he was just trying to eat a very expensive lunch with his friend, who, like Henry Blodget, has a lot of money.
First of all, he had to think about the awkwardness of being in such close proximity to another man, a man whose job it is to serve you, while engaged in the intimate act of urination.
Second, he had to think about the ways in which an economic and social system we call "capitalism" had made people like Henry Blodget so wealthy that there arose both the demand for workers whose jobs it is to dry the hands of people like Henry Blodget and a large number of people willing to take those jobs.
This is how Henry Blodget wrote about it: "First of all, it wastes water. Second, it makes me feel like I'm the kind of guy who dreams of being rich enough to be able to pay someone to turn on the water for me."
Henry Blodget doesn't even know that he is already that rich! There was already a man doing that job!
"Erick Erickson" on Erick Erickson5. Richard Cohen1
With his soft physique and his inexplicable belief that "blogger" is an appropriate job for a man who has a family to feed and protect, Erickson represents the epitome of the modern beta male. Can you imagine an alpha male in the animal kingdom "working from home"? Erickson is practically made of arugula.
While Erickson sits around collecting government benefits like the mortgage tax deduction, I work three jobs and actually contribute to society instead of leeching taxpayers dry like so many politicians. And unlike Erickson I don't whine about what "society" or "the GOP" owe me.
"Richard Cohen" on Richard Cohen4. David Brooks12,30
Where is the politician brave enough to address the widespread fear of black violence? No major public figure ever talks about it, besides Richard Cohen. There is a political correctness omerta around the issue of black people committing crime and being frightening. I wish I had a solution to this problem. I thought Barack Obama would fix it, by making it permissible for Richard Cohen to admit to his racial anxieties without fear of any sort of backlash. But did the former Barry Obama make it OK for Richard Cohen to defend racial profiling? No. Is the solution to put into place a criminal justice system designed to detain and imprison as many people of color as possible? I don't know. Does such a system already exist? I don't know. If it does, is it racist? It's a painfully, achingly, staggeringly complex issue, but I think it is not.
"David Brooks" on David Brooks3. Benny Johnson
Ideas, for those who aren't clear on the concept, are simply attention-grabbing assertions. The Columnist is one of a group of people who create these assertions and sell them to rich people. His first book, "I Confirmed All My Biases By Driving to a Strip Mall," is a big hit among people who like to feel superior while reading gentle mocking of people who like to feel superior. "Some Americans enjoy NASCAR," he writes. "Others prefer arugula and are very proud of themselves for this fact." He treats this observation as a bold Idea. He invents a term, to mock (gently!) a very specific social class, and he freely condescends to a larger one. The Columnist will never deny being one of the arugula ones, of course, he will just position himself as that class' foremost chronicler of its little hypocrisies. His satire was once silly, and Perelman-esque. It is now muted, and practically indiscernible.
In fact, you never know when the Columnist is joking, which allows him to get away with quite a lot. He writes patent falsehoods. A young reporter calls him and points them out. The Columnist asks, don't you get jokes? He says, "Is this how you're going to start your career?" A Columnist does not expect to be fact-checked. He interprets it as a threat, from a would-be future Columnist.
"Benny Johnson" on Benny Johnson2. Mark Halperin1 and John Heilemann
I don’t know! YOLO!!
[wall of GIFs]
"Mark Halperin and John Heilemann" on Mark Halperin and John Heilemann1. Mike Allen1,9
Halperin doubled down. What game, in the end, had anyone actually changed in "Game Change"? He won out. But there'd be one final compromise: The book would be called "Double Down: Game Change 2012." They had a name. Now, they just needed to come up with some good nicknames for all the candidates.
On a cold, sunless night on December 11, in a booth at an Upper West Side diner, the Game Changers game-planned. The book wouldn't necessarily be harder to write. Heilemann knew that neither of them was much of a prose stylist, and all they really had to do was write down what they'd persuaded people to tell them, not explain what it meant. Heilemann knew also that they wouldn't have much trouble getting people to talk either, because everyone knew if you didn't talk to them, you might end up under the bus alongside the McCain strategists who weren't Steve Schmidt. (If we don't put quotation marks around quotes we can attribute them to people without having to be super careful about getting them right. Works for Woodward.) Heilemann knew all of that, and he knew that if it came down to it they could double down on their best trick, naming the speakers of off-the-record quotes, and playing hardball if they balked. But he also knew that unless there was going to be a surprise recount naming Sarah Palin the write-in winner of the 2012 presidential election, they didn't have a movie.
"Mike Allen" on Mike Allen:(Superscripts denote a prior year's Hack List placement. Previous Hack Lists for 2012, 2011, and 2010.)
A QUOTE OF A HUGE PORTION OF ANOTHER OUTLET'S ARTICLE PASTED INTO AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER UNDER THE ASSUMPTION THAT READERS WON'T FOLLOW THE LINK AS THEY WILL BE PRETTY SURE THEY GOT THE GIST OF IT: "Now, one possible defense of Allen is that what appears to be simple payola is actually a more sociologically complex phenomenon. Allen, as Wemple reports, has personal friendships with many of his sponsors, uses them as sources, and generally shares their point of view on most issues even while failing to acknowledge he has a point of view at all. This is less a defense than a concession that Allen is so hopelessly embedded within the Establishment that he can't cover it in a remotely fair way.
"...[Jim] VandeHei's final defense verges on parody: Allen, he argues, has "no business interest" in giving favorable treatment to advertisers. There is the fact that advertisers pay him $35,000 a week, or up to $1.8 million a year. If those clients realize that their paid advertisements also buy them favorable coverage in Playbook, that would make them dramatically more interested in paying Allen's exorbitant rates.
"...[POLITICO'S] strategy of pretending the payola allegations don't exist has worked brilliantly, from a business perspective. Given the reality that Politico has suffered little to no reputation damage from the scandal, it seems like selling favorable coverage, whatever the ethical merits, is in fact a brilliant business strategy." http://goo.gl/lyRfdO
PLAYBOOK FACTS OF LIFE: An intern could do this job. (If you plan to hire an intern to do this job, please pay them, though you needn't pay them as much as POLITICO pays Mike Allen.) One randomly selected edition of POLITICO PLAYBOOK is nearly 3,400 words long. Fewer than 500 of its words were actually written by Mike Allen. The rest is lengthy quotes of other journalists' articles, press releases and ads. There's nothing special about this one in particular; PLAYBOOK often features even less original Allen writing. http://goo.gl/W6sX0c
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments