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The Rhetorical Triangle & Heffernan’s“Comment is King”. IDS 3309 B-51A Readings – January 16, 2013. Political Rhetoric Today. The Partisan Corners of the News (http:// www.nytimes.com /2011/05/09/business/media/ 09drill.html)

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the rhetorical triangle heffernan s comment is king

The Rhetorical Triangle & Heffernan’s“Comment is King”

IDS 3309 B-51A Readings – January 16, 2013

political rhetoric today
Political Rhetoric Today
  • The Partisan Corners of the News (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/business/media/09drill.html)
  • Almost as many Americans today get their political news from the Internet as from newspapers
  • Online news is partisan
  • 55% say they believe the Internet increases the influence of those with extreme views
  • Cable news is also very partisan
    • Fox News: audience is 46% Republican, 15% Democrat
    • MSNBC: “Fox’s Liberal Evil Twin” (NYT, 8/31/2012)
what is rhetoric
What is rhetoric?
  • Rhetoric: “The art of using language to communicate effectively and persuasively.”
  • A Western tradition with roots in Greek society; for centuries served as a central tenet of political discourse and an advanced education (along with Grammar & Logic)
  • With the growth of media outlets and infinite expanse of information brought on by the digital age of communication, rhetoric and the use of language to present information and arguments has become more relevant than ever.
clicker poll
Clicker Poll

Think back on a recent argument or debate you may have engaged in. On which of the three elements of the Rhetorical Triangle did you rely most heavily?

Logos (rational appeal)

Pathos (emotional appeal)

Ethos (ethical appeal)

a few examples of rhetorical arguments being made on the cable news networks
A few examples of rhetorical arguments being made on the cable news networks
  • First, what is Obamacare?
  • Some of the rhetoric on Fox News
  • And on MSNBC
comment is king virginia heffernan nyt april 26 2009
“Comment is King”Virginia Heffernan, NYT, April 26, 2009
  • Presents an analysis of comments made on the Op-Ed pieces of Anne Applebaum, columnist for the Washington Post
  • Applebaum is pretty middle of the road, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, but you wouldn’t know that from the comments made on her articles:
    • “liberal fool”; “a lapsed neo-con addict”; “Zionist stooge liar”; anti-Semitic
  • Comments are not refereed; no “sustained or inventive analysis of Applebaum’s work” emerges from the commentary
comment is king virginia heffernan nyt april 26 20091
“Comment is King”Virginia Heffernan, NYT, April 26, 2009
  • Heffernan argues that online commentary should become a “cogent part of online journalism”
  • It is instead the “bête noire for journalists and readers alike”; journalists find it “stinging and distracting” while readers won’t take the time to dig through the comments unless they plan on making a comment themselves
comment is king virginia heffernan nyt april 26 20092
“Comment is King”Virginia Heffernan, NYT, April 26, 2009
  • What’s the problem?
    • Rhythms of the web: early assent, then dissent, early morning weirdness; then fact checking
    • Never reaches the level of true analysis; instead, an echo-chamber develops
  • Echo-chamber is “unpleasant, and it makes it hard to keep listening for the clearer, brighter, rarer voices nearly drowned out in the din.”
  • Something should be done, but Heffernan seems at a loss as to what that “something” might be
and what about youtube
And what about YouTube?
  • YouTube comments section: “an infamously troll-ridden Wild West of abuse, ignorance and spam.”
  • In November, 2013, they decided to try and fix it: “YouTube comments will become conversations that matter to you".
  • Channel owners allowed to moderate, block and filter comments; further integration with Google+
  • Efforts at a civil conversation undermined by first comment under blog post announcing changes, with a prominent, ahem, emoticon.
whoa hold everything
WHOA, hold everything.
  • The Internet was against this move.
  • YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, the Google+ site's biggest star PewDiePie and 200,000 petition-signers aren't happy
  • "Google is forcing us to make google+ accounts and invading our social life to comment on a youtube video and trying to take away our anonymous profile. They are also trying to censor us unless we share the same worldview as they do
google backs off
Google Backs Off.
  • “Many of you have told us that you use your YouTube Inbox to manage comments. With the new commenting system moving comment notices to alerts, removing this feature was, well, a bummer.”
back to comment is king by virginia heffernan
Back to “Comment is King” by Virginia Heffernan
  • Since this article was published, the Times has come up with their own “troll solution”: Comment ranking by readers and Editors at the Times
    • David Brooks, “Weed: Been There, Done That”
  • First blogging assignment