‘Dumb News’ Shows Why The Culture Wars Aren’t A Giant Waste Of Time


If you fear losing a job for crossing whatever the bleeding edge of political correctness is at any given moment, these stories are not dumb.

By Warren Henry, Dec. 6, 2016 The Federalist
Following the extended media coverage of a rude crowd booing and otherwise demonstrating against incoming Vice President Mike Pence during a performance of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” Commentary’s Noah C. Rothman was among those opining that frivolous “dumb news” stories like this are as bad as or worse than “fake news” stories that circulate on the internet. At the risk of offering a “hot take,” I propose that “dumb news” is a lot less trivial than many believe.

Rothman’s column suggests a working definition of “dumb news” as coverage that appeals to the emotions of the audience and do not require much effort to understand:

This kind of entry-level politics is not a new phenomenon, and its victims are bipartisan. Colin Kaepernick, the Black Lives Matter movement, college-age adults devolving into their childlike selves, or pretentious celebrities politicizing otherwise apolitical events; for the right, these and other similar stories masquerade as and suffice for intellectual stimulation and political engagement. The left is similarly plagued by mock controversies. The faces printed on American currency notes, minority representation in film adaptations of comic books, and astrophysicists insensitive enough to announce feats of human engineering while wearing shirts with cartoon depictions of scantily clad women on them. This isn’t politics but, for many, it’s close enough.

Such stories, Rothman argues, merely appeal to tribalism and crowd out more important and complicated news. He was far from alone in these suggestions, if journalists’ Twitter feeds are any indicator.

This Is More than Tribalism
The stories catalogued, however, have more in common than a tribal, emotional component. Another name for “dumb news” might be “dispatches from the latest, nastiest iteration of the culture war.” Virtually all of the stories in this genre revolve around two features of the rising New New Left: identity politics and the impulse to enforce them in a totalitarian manner. READ it here.

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