Monday, April 18, 2005


Ann Coulter's interview in Time is getting much attention in the blogosphere. Billmon has a funny take on cover and people on Eschaton are saying all the things about Coulter that need to be said: that she lies and screams and yells, that she advocates razing down whole countries and converting them to Christianity and that she thinks liberals should be hit with baseball bats. All true. The next rational question then is why would Time bother to interview someone like that.

Because she is "someone like that". We now have a media that would shame Barnum and other circus impressarios. At least they only sold unicorns to the unsuspecting masses. We get sold teasers: sexual teasers, political teasers, "everything-goes" teasers. The teasers never have a resolution, have you noticed? They never give any new information. Their only purpose is to maximize sales, and the way to do that is to guarantee that they outrage the liberal/progressive reader and do not outrage the wingnut reader.

I have figured this out and I will be very mad if data proves me wrong. Because it is an excellent and cunning theory and it goes like this:

Axiom 1: Newspaper and magazine readers are largely liberals and progressive (because we are smart). (You can figure out the corollary...)

Axiom 2: People are more likely to buy a magazine that provokes them than one that soothes them.

Axiom 3: The larger the sales of a magazine or newspaper, the greater its advertizing revenues will be.


Echidne's Theorem:

Magazines and newspapers will publish pro-wingnut teasers.

If they did the reverse the wingnuts would buy in outrage but they are not that many. Most liberals would not bother, and the total profits of the firm would be less.

For all this to work the teasers must never conclude by taking sides in a definite manner, and this is why we will see no end to this stupidity.

The Ann Coulter story is the last of many such tricks. Even the New Yorker has hired the "one-topic" anti-feminist Caitlin Flanagan as its teaser. The New York Times has David Brooks laboriously penning gooey diatribes. But check out Washington Times, the Moonie-owned wingnut paper. Does it publish Echidne's Communist Column? Nope. That's because nobody actually reads the wingnut rags, of course, and Echidne's Theorem fails if there is no readership. Still, I'm going to apply for a job at the Times. Even goddesses must eat.