Current Criticism, Intelligent Design, and Having it All

“The challenge for Current [TV],” we suggested yesterday, “will be to walk the delicate line between cool and worthwhile.” According to James Wolcott, Current is already stumbling. Wolcott wonders if “young [is] the new tired,” because Current strikes him as “so determinedly, shinily, creamily, fake-casually, hang-loosily, self-cooingly Young that it already seems patronizing and homogenized, despite the ethnic mix of the hosts.” To Wolcott’s tired old eyes, it’s “as if all the marketing ‘cool hunters’ got together in a conference room, sent out for Red Bull and Listerine mint strips, and brainstormed into the night to create a channel appealing to MTV viewers looking for a little extra somethin’-somethin’.”

The criticism is more constructive over at Lost Remote, where Steve Safran presents eleven “ideas for saving Current.” Sounding like a less-caustic Wolcott, Safran suggests: “Cut back on the forced hipness. Get over the ‘Oh My God we are, like, SO launching a TV channel!’ talk. I’m getting a ‘the hosts are reading self-consciously hip copy’ vibe. And it’s not working. Let them be spontaneous, or keep the chatter more natural.” Also, says Safran, “the hosts are a little overstyled … Truly hip hair and fashion can’t be mandated.”

Hip-haired Hugh Hewitt weighs in on President Bush’s endorsement yesterday of teaching “intelligent design” in schools alongside evolution. Opines Hewitt: “The non-believing slice of America — way, way overrepresented in the nation’s newsrooms — seems to think that any mention of ID equates to snake handling.” But to “the vast majority of Americans who believe in God,” Hewitt holds, Bush’s position seems “imminently reasonable.”

More like “too stupid to be true,” according to Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse. Scoffs Moran: “Who the devil cares if some people believe that ‘Intelligent Design’ is the ‘correct’ interpretation for the massive amount of fossil and anthropological evidence showing how human beings evolved?” Huffs The Huffington Post’s Katrina vanden Heuvel: “What we do know is that when it comes to intelligence and the designing of it, the Bush administration is not to be trusted.” The snide wordplay continues as vanden Heuvel does: “We don’t need more God in science. We need more intelligence in the White House. Because the majority of Americans have lost faith in this president.”

Switching gears, if you are part of “the media-obsessed bloggy portion of the left,” to quote Matthew Yglesias, perhaps you agree that “a strong case can be made that wrecking [Judith] Miller’s career would be a preferable outcome [in PlameGate] to wrecking [Karl] Rove’s.” How so? “If Rove landed in jail,” Yglesias contends, “he’d just be replaced by someone equally awful, while it seems plausible that the New York Times wouldn’t actually feel the need to hire a new Ahmed Chalabi sock puppet.” (Obviously, Yglesias does not subscribe to the vision of the Machiavellian Rove as the peerless slick manipulator of all that passes before our eyes.)

Mark A. R. Kleiman argues that while he “can see Matt’s argument,” it violates the “Raiffa Principle: When offered a choice between A and B, always ask, ‘Why can’t I have both?’”

In sum, some of the “media-obsessed bloggy portion of the left” seem to want to have their schadenfreude and eat it, too. (Urp).

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.