The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

I Watch MSNBC So You Don’t Have To: S.E. Cupp Nerd Glasses Edition

Posted on | November 17, 2011 | 26 Comments

Watching MSNBC is not an experience I would recommend to any conservative whose mind isn’t fire-hardened against liberal nonsense. Only those who’ve long since passed the point of “epistemic closure” could withstand hour after hour of this stuff without either (a) permitting themselves to be convinced that Jon Huntsman is a plausible Republican presidential candidate, or (b) erupting in a violent fit and throwing things at the TV.

However, for those of us capable of withstanding the impulse to either extreme reaction, spending the day with MSNBC is a fascinating glimpse into the worldview of the deluded. On Morning Joe today, I heard Mika Brzezinski wishing that “these clowns” — i.e., six of the eight main GOP candidates — would “go away” so that the Republican campaign could be boiled down to a contest between Mitt Romney and . . .  Jon Huntsman.

Huntsman’s status as the Official MSNBC Republican Presidential Candidate is a message so relentlessly telegraphed by the network that it becomes self-defeating: If liberals want to influence the GOP campaign, they shouldn’t be so damned obvious about their preferences. It’s as if they think conservative voters are too stupid to figure out that there must be something drastically wrong with any Republican praised by Mika Brzezinski.

During today’s noontime NOW With Alex Wagner show — a newly launched replacement for the departed Contessa Brewer — Huntsman’s daughters got their own segment, fielding softball questions from the hostess. This is the kind of flattering human-interest coverage no serious conservative contender for the Republican nomination will ever get from MSNBC, and is therefore yet another clear signal that Huntsman is a liberal Trojan Horse smuggled into the GOP race for nefarious purposes.

Before the Huntsman fluff segment, however, Wagner hosted a panel discussion — referenced in my Tweet above — featuring Chris Hayes and Ari Melber of the Nation, Maggie Haberman of Politico and S.E. Cupp of the NY Daily News. Cupp was outnumbered 3-to-1 by the liberals on the panel, and if you count the host Wagner (a former HuffPoster), it was 4-to-1. And the first topic under discussion was Occupy Wall Street, which had declared its nationwide “Day of Action” today:

WAGNER: What are the ramifications of the protests today?
HAYES: Well, I think this week is sort of an ‘Empire Strikes Back’ moment for Occupy Wall Street in which, you know, there was this period in which there was a little bit of a honeymoon, I think both in the public imagination — the message really does resound, people really like ’99 percent’ — but it was inevitable that it would become a polarizing force, and we’ve seen its approval rating start to decline. That was absolutely going to happen. In fact, every effective social movement is a polarizing force at a certain level. The question is, what is next after the sort of base of the encampment is taken away? I think today is a sort of opportunity to sort of galvanize and everybody to sort of organically brainstorm what happens next. So I think today is pretty important.
WAGNER: So it’s a brainstorm to cross the Brooklyn Bridge?
HAYES: Something like that. Yeah, exactly.
CUPP: And the subway stations around the city.
HABERMAN: I mean, part of the problem with Occupy Wall Street — I agree with everything Chris said, although I do think, in terms of defining this as a social movement, that’s been a little complicated. People have not agreed on whether this is a social movement, because there hasn’t been a group — you know, a unifying precept that everyone agrees on nationally, when you’re seeing all these different movements. So I think this is a difficult moment, because I think you did see Mayor Bloomberg come out and do what people have been urging him to do for a while in the business community, which was get rid of the encampment, and now I’m not really sure that the second act will be as effective.
HAYES: I just want to say one more thing, which is that I think that the thing that makes it polarizing, which is the disruption of everyday life, which can be inconvenient and a real pain if you’re trying to get on a train, they’re occupying it —
CUPP: And the cultural divide, too, the idea that this is like a white liberal arts movement I think is off-putting to some folks who are not in major cities —
HAYES: I think that’s true, although I also think — I’ve been struck by how multiracial the coalition is down there, and the people in the streets. And I think that the disruption is necessary for what they’re trying to achieve which — the fundamental core precept here is that normalcy is not OK.
CUPP: Anarchy, violence, sexual assault —
HAYES: No. Oh, come on —
CUPP: One public-relations nightmare after another —
HAYES: That’s preposterous!
CUPP: — that’s necessary to get —
HAYES: What are the incidents of sexual assault?
CUPP: Are you kidding? Go down to Zuccotti Park — you can’t anymore, because they were kicked out — but go down —
HAYES: There are thousands of people across the country — thousands of people across the county —
CUPP: So, percentage-wise, it’s OK? It’s acceptable. I mean, that’s crazy. This is a group that has suffered one public-relations nightmare after another. And that’s fine. I recently wrote a column comparing Tea Party to Occupy. They’re mass movements. They share a lot of commonalities and —
MELBER: Here’s the thing, S.E., you’re talking —
CUPP: And one group is just like another, but this is a moment when this group has to be taken seriously if they’re going to survive.
WAGNER: Ari, keep — go ahead.
MELBER: You’re talking about P.R., you’re talking about whether it’s a movement or not. I think Occupy Wall Street has been very successful in the fact that it is not about P.R. It is not about professionalized politics. We in the media, we in politics, have gotten so accustomed to everything being a bumper sticker, sound-bite, press release and —
CUPP: Well, I’m sorry. Violence and sexual assault is not good for —
MELBER: I’m not going to go down that road. As you know, everybody on this panel is against sexual assault and obviously, as with any park, you have to have police and no one, I think, is saying otherwise. But what they have done is organize people around gathering and having teach-ins and having a discussion about the power of Wall Street. . . .

OK, that’s enough transcribing for one day. Bad enough to have to watch MSNBC without having to relive it by transcribing the audio. But you get the idea: Liberals decided from the outset that Occupy Wall Street would be a rallying point, their triumphant response to the Tea Party movement, and they refuse to let it go. It must be defended.

Now that the Left’s movement has disintegrated into what Cupp calls a “public-relations nightmare” — violence, crime, disease, an irresistible scum-magnet for every pervert, schizo and anarchist looking for a deviant thrill — the MSNBC crowd continues stubbornly insisting that this frothing degenerate mob is a broad-based “social movement,” and that everything offensive about it can be dismissed as irrelevant or trivial, in comparison to the movement’s goals, whatever the goals actually are.

It’s like the old joke about going to a fight and a hockey game broke out: Occupy Wall Street had a “teach-ins” and a riot broke out. Or was it vice-versa? Never mind. My point is this: In the cloud-cuckooland illogic of MSNBC, all that matters are the movement’s allegedly noble intentions and not the criminal consequences which we are urged to ignore.

This isn’t the “reality-based community” but rather, to borrow a phrase from Ace of Spades, community-based reality — groupthink, where certain beliefs and attitudes are credentials required for membership in the ideological club. Liberals who accuse the Right of “epistemic closure” are perfectly capable of creating their own alternative universe where the truth is whatever they say it is, and whatever they say it is just happens to be the message most advantageous to the Democratic Party.

MSNBC propagates this Bizarro World mythos every day, and when a token conservative like S.E. Cupp is invited on to represent the demonized Other, she must be interrupted and shouted down and given self-righteous lectures by her moral superiors. They get to speak in paragraphs, while she can scarcely be permitted to complete a sentence.

An interesting contrast among the panelists is apparent when we examine the biography of Ari Melber:

During the 2008 general election, Melber traveled with the Obama Campaign on special assignment for The Washington Independent. He previously served as a Legislative Aide in the U.S. Senate and as a national staff member of the 2004 John Kerry Presidential Campaign. Melber received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a J.D. from Cornell Law School, where he was an editor of the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy.

Which is to say, Melber’s background is as a Democratic Party operative, by contrast to the biography of S.E. Cupp:

S.E. is a political columnist and culture critic. She has a regular online column at the New York Daily News, and a regular feature at The Daily Caller. She is a contributing editor at Townhall magazine, and a regular contributor to Politico’s “Arena.” She has been published in the Washington Post, Newsmax, Slate, Human Events, American Spectator, Townhall,, Sports Illustrated online, Maxim online,, FrontPage, Detroit Free Press and others.
S.E. is a political commentator. She has appeared on FOXNews, MSNBC, CNN, CSPAN, Al Harra and others. She is a regular guest on “Hannity,” “Larry King Live,” “Fox & Friends,” “Geraldo,” and “Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld.” She has been heard on dozens of radio shows, including The Dennis Miller Show, The Mancow Show, The Curtis Sliwa Show, Bubba the Love Sponge, Andrew Wilkow, The Alan Colmes Show and others.
She is a graduate of Cornell University (2000) and a Masters candidate at NYU (2010). She was born in Carlsbad, CA and grew up primarily in Andover, MA. She lives in New York City.

Cupp is a writer/commentator who has chosen politics as her subject matter, whereas Melber is a political operative whose journalism is a function of his partisan commitments. This is an interesting imbalance and, while I suppose there is a certain randomness to the combination of panel guests, I think the contrast between Melber and Cupp’s biographies points up significant differences in how the rival pundtry brigades are staffed.

BTW, the “nerd glasses” motif with younger TV talking heads seems to me an attempt to convey seriousness, to deflect the instinctive reaction of older viewers: “Who are these kids jabbering about politics? What the hell do they know? Get off my lawn!”

Melber probably skipped the nerd glasses because he thinks he looks grown-up enough without them. But Melber graduated from the University of Michigan in 2002, which would make him about 30, whereas Cupp (B.A., Cornell, 2000) is 32, as is Hayes. By contrast to these juveniles, Haberman — a veteran reporter and daughter of a Pulitzer-winning journalist for the New York Times — is practically a geriatric at 38.

Maybe Haberman should have let Melber borrow her nerd glasses.


26 Responses to “I Watch MSNBC So You Don’t Have To: S.E. Cupp Nerd Glasses Edition”

  1. Joe
    November 17th, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

    Do you have chicken wire fence installed in front of your TV screen to deflect the beer bottles you feel compelled to throw when MSNBC is one?

    I have to admit, the one who really drives me over the edge is Joe Scarborough.  None of the liberal ones bother me, even Olbermann (before his exile to Al Gore’s basement as his “gimp”).  But Scarborough should be horsewhipped. 

  2. Joe
    November 17th, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

    And I blame S.E. Cupp for allowing herself to be made a useful idiot for MSNBC. 

  3. Joe
    November 17th, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

    Oh and MSNBC also keeps Pat Buchanan around so they can trot him out like he is Albert Speer in Spandau Prison. 

  4. Joe
    November 17th, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

    I like S.E.Cupp, don’t get me wrong, but she needs to recognize they will mariginalize her on MSNBC. 

  5. Anonymous
    November 17th, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

    No, somebody has to do that Token MSNBC Conservative gig, and Cupp is feisty and attractive, so I’d much rather have her represent our side in the hostile environment than, say, David Brooks or some other RINO type.

  6. Red
    November 17th, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

    Consider me a choice ‘(b)’ conservative. That is why I read your blog else there be nothing but a massive smoldering hole in the drywall where our television sits.

  7. Joe
    November 17th, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

    I did not see her performance, so if you say she did well that is good enough for me.  I like Cupp, she is fiesty and attractive. 

  8. TC_LeatherPenguin
    November 17th, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

    I got so sick of Scarborough’s morning crap I watch old coot Imus instead, and his tired shtick can get so bad it can force me into the arms of NPR…but never back to “roll my eyes” Mika and the idiots who fill their table.

  9. Joe
    November 17th, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

    I find it more painful to watch than Real Time.  And Real Time really sucks. 

  10. Liz
    November 17th, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

    Every time I see the media trying to push Huntsman, I keep thinking of the film “Mean Girls”, where the desperate hanger on tries to make “fetch” into the new cool word:

    Somehow, I doubt that’s what they intended.

  11. Anonymous
    November 17th, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

    Yeah, but S. E. Cupp looks smokin’ in her nerd glasses.

    And you have a bad link to her biography.

  12. Anonymous
    November 17th, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

    We’re taking guff from 30 year-olds? Are you kidding me?! I think I have a watch almost as old as them. Get off my TV and my lawn!!

  13. Anonymous
    November 17th, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

    Thanks for catching the bad link. Fixed it.

  14. Bob Belvedere
    November 17th, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

    She’s a WOLVERINE.

  15. Bob Belvedere
    November 17th, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

    Let Red be put on MSNBC!  I’d pay to watch her go against those Bolshe wusses.

  16. Bob Belvedere
    November 17th, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

    Same here except for SE.  She’s traveled the world and, unlike the others, has actually been through flyover country many times.

  17. Anonymous
    November 17th, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

    I hear they have both kinds of commentary at MSNBC: Liberal and Progressive.

  18. Anonymous
    November 17th, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

    I’m half-kidding and half-serious, of course. But on the serious note, they don’t even know what they don’t know. (Thank you, Donald Rumsfeld.) Admittedly I have a bit of contempt for punditry in that everyone has an opinion (as do we all possess an orifice that emanates hot air) but have a perverse addiction to listening to some anyway. Cupp is very practiced in her field and the Masters candidacy indicates dedication to the Art; still, she’s relatively young. Sure she’s sharp, but the operative bubble is limited. As an industry it simply does not command my respect like other disciplines do. It’s my bias and I concede it.

    I do hope, however, she’ll keep on the academic circuit to subvert Leftism and challenge premises. Now that would be a legacy of tangible value.

  19. Adjoran
    November 18th, 2011 @ 3:16 am

    They let Speer go eventually. 

  20. Adjoran
    November 18th, 2011 @ 3:19 am

    I deleted MSNBC from my channel list many years ago, when they ceased carrying any actual news.

  21. Anonymous
    November 18th, 2011 @ 5:18 am

    When I was a kid, you had to be a grown-up to be TV pundit. Now that I’m a grown-up, you have to be a kid to be a TV pundit.

  22. ‘Frothing Degenerate Mob’ Would Make a Great Name for a Punk-Rock Band : The Other McCain
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  23. rosalie
    November 18th, 2011 @ 9:56 am

    I don’t watch Fox anymore, but Hannity always had a panel made up of people who think just like him and one liberal.   They did the same thing to the liberal that was done to Cupp.  It usually ended up in a shouting match.  That’s why I read blogs instead of watching TV.

  24. Red
    November 18th, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    Remember that post I did on Anger Management? Yeah.

  25. Quartermaster
    November 18th, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

    I thought women were Cougars.

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