The Other McCain

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

Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again

Posted on | August 30, 2013 | 31 Comments

Aficionados of Blog-Fu will some day recall Thursday’s AOSHQ beatdown of Slate the way boxing fans remember Clay-Liston:

Slate, the Amateur Online Webzine
Specializing in Hit-Trolling and
Outrage-Fishing: First of a Series


Slate, the Group Blog That
Troll-Baits With Provocative Stupidity:
Second in a Series


Slate, The Blog That Trolls Its
Own Readers, Last in a Series

What he’s pointing out is that the “counterintuitive”-style article, or the rant that deliberately takes aim at conventional sensibilities in a cheeky pseudo-iconoclastic fashion, is just trolling for reaction, rather than doing anything intellectually valid or useful.

This has become as cliché as the BuzzFeed cute-kitty slideshow or the Think Progress look-at-this-stupid-thing-a-Republican-said outrage piece. (Partisan oppo-research as “investigative journalism.”)

Producers of this assembly-line erzatz intellectualism know their intended readership, and there is a certain art to producing their stuff, in the same way that Brill Building songwriters required skill to crank out a reliable commercial product. But it’s lightweight, and any pretension to seriousness is like the Monkees when they tried to rebel against Don Kirschner and prove that they were a “real” band.

Uh, no. No, not really. No, not at all.

Slate has not yet descended to the level of, but it has definitely begun slouching toward Middlebrow, except that one could make a (counterintuitive!) defense of 20th-century Middlebrow literature as something better than any of the cheap dreck being cranked out by Matthew Yglesias, et al., in the Obama era.

Notice how Ace goes from calling Slate an “Amateur Online Webzine” to calling it a “Group Blog,” then just “Blog,” because this is what the folks who market Slate don’t want to admit: This low-investment, don’t-have-to-pick-up-the-phone, just-pull-it-out-of-my-ass stuff isn’t any more legitimate as capital-J Journalism than anything published by scores of people who are Just Bloggers.

Publishing blogs under a “magazine” banner doesn’t make you any better than anybody else, and if institutions of capital-J Journalism can’t do any better than this lame crap, they deserve to fail.

Where Ace really nails it is deep into the third post, where he describes Slate as “something that once sort of tried to pretend to be a ‘smart’ alternative to real media.” DING! DING! DING!

Maybe our nostalgic fondness for Michael Kinsley-era Slate is like most other nostalgic fondness for things that always seem better in memory than they actual were at the time. Counter-intuitively, however, I want to claim that the decline of Slate is quite real.

These kids are just so lazy or, in the case of Allison Benedikt, so hopelessly ignorant that they are incapable of good writing.

Also, it’s much more Team Player these days, isn’t it? Grant that Slate has always been a liberal publication, but hyper-partisanship — by God, epistemic closure! — has warped the whole project. Maybe the tedious predictability of Slate’s political slant is a marketing strategy, but this is now an editorial team so completely trapped inside such an ideological bubble that it’s not even interesting liberalism.

Maybe they know what they’re doing, in terms of a business model, and are satisfied with their readership trends. Whatever.

Not a damned thing Slate has published in recent memory, however, is as good as Ace’s thermonuclear destruction of Allison Benedikt.

A true classic, Ace. Integrity like Paul Fucking Anka.



31 Responses to “Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again”

  1. MrEvilMatt
    August 30th, 2013 @ 2:41 am

    Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again: Aficionados of Blog-Fu will some day re…

  2. CHideout
    August 30th, 2013 @ 2:41 am

    Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again: Aficionados of Blog-Fu will some day re…

  3. Citzcom
    August 30th, 2013 @ 2:41 am

    Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again: Aficionados of Blog-Fu will some day re…

  4. jwbrown1969
    August 30th, 2013 @ 2:41 am

    Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again: Aficionados of Blog-Fu will some day re…

  5. Lockestep1776
    August 30th, 2013 @ 2:41 am

    Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again: Aficionados of Blog-Fu will some day re…

  6. K-Bob
    August 30th, 2013 @ 3:03 am

    Moved here from wrong thread:

    Who actually keeps the lights on a Slate? I thought it was owned originally by Microsoft. But they can’t actually be making money at that site, can they?

    Man, I’d even forgotten they exist. Like Alta Vista.

  7. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    August 30th, 2013 @ 3:36 am

    Ace does have a gift.

  8. rsmccain
    August 30th, 2013 @ 3:42 am

    RT @commonpatriot: via @rsmccain: Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again #tcot

  9. DoreenHDickson
    August 30th, 2013 @ 5:20 am

    Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again

  10. Alessandra
    August 30th, 2013 @ 6:32 am

    And funnily enough, this exists for real:

    The Benedikt syndrome, also called paramedic midbrain syndrome, is a rare type of posterior circulation stroke of the brain, with a range of neurological symptoms affecting the midbrain, cerebellum and other related structures.

    A paralyzed brain is a wonderful thing to have! 🙂

  11. Alessandra
    August 30th, 2013 @ 6:38 am

    In looking up variations of the name Benedikt (why the k), I just discovered that the name Bennet also comes from Benedict, news to me. How sweet that the meaning of the surname of one of my most beloved literature families (Pride and Prejudice) is blessed.

  12. Dana
    August 30th, 2013 @ 6:51 am

    Since my blog is called The First Street Journal — note how I sneaked the link in there, so everybody would click on it and increase my pathetic traffic numbers — and it’s (almost) as much about economics as politics, could I designate my site as “an amateur online webzine?” Heck, since I even get (a pittance of) advertizing revenue, I should be able to drop the “amateur” part; I have been paid to publish, and therefore I is a professional!

  13. TC_LeatherPenguin
    August 30th, 2013 @ 7:50 am

    One quibble: Slate would have to ascend to reach the level of douchebaggery that is Hipster Douchebag Central

  14. alohasteve
    August 30th, 2013 @ 7:55 am
  15. rmnixondeceased
    August 30th, 2013 @ 8:27 am

    No comparison between the two. Alta Vista actually had a useful purpose.

  16. Dungeonmaster Jim
    August 30th, 2013 @ 8:40 am

    Sir, your contempt of the Monkees obligates me to cut a female canine!

  17. Professor_Why
    August 30th, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again

  18. rmnixondeceased
    August 30th, 2013 @ 8:50 am

    And better edjumicated too!

  19. rmnixondeceased
    August 30th, 2013 @ 8:51 am

    Just ask any college freshman during rush week …

  20. scarymatt
    August 30th, 2013 @ 8:51 am

    It’s been sucking money from the Washington Post Company for the last 9 years. Tellingly, Bezos didn’t buy Slate.

  21. texlovera
    August 30th, 2013 @ 11:55 am

    There hasn’t been a single damned thing worth reading at that shithole since Kaus left…

  22. Wombat_socho
    August 30th, 2013 @ 11:58 am

    At the rate they’re going, hopefully we can soon add them to the list of failed leftard projects like Newsweek.

  23. K-Bob
    August 30th, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    Yes, of course, but like you, Alta Vista is pining for the fijords.

    The last time I went to slate, was from an Alta Vista search, I think.

  24. rmnixondeceased
    August 30th, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

    I think mine was from a result set from Copernicus …

  25. Jon Camp
    August 30th, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

    I found myself preferring Larry Corriea’s take on it a bit more, but the 2 are extremely similar. I just found correia to be a bit funnier.

  26. Friday: Bad Girlfriends Edition | Regular Right Guy
    August 30th, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

    […] Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again […]

  27. Michelob Ultra-drinking Ace of Spades accuses The Trog of copying Matt Yglesias | The TrogloPundit
    August 30th, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

    […] and… up yours, Ace. Hat tip McCain. And let’s just call that 500 words, […]

  28. thatMrGguy
    August 30th, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

    Studying the Master: @AceOfSpadesHQ Brings His Blogging A-Game, Again

  29. K-Bob
    August 30th, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

    Could you get there from Compuserve?

  30. rmnixondeceased
    August 30th, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

    Not sure, never used Compuserve ,,,

  31. kryon77
    August 31st, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

    I’m late to the game, but I loved the reference to the Brill Building – 1619 Broadway in New York City – a Depression-era building (but still renting today) with a collection of tenants that included many luminaries in the music industry. Here’s a NYT article on the building (not a terrible paper when the article subject cannot be given a political spin):

    Half Empty but Full of History, Brill Building Seeks Tenants

    One of Martin Short’s characters, Irving Cohen – a caricature of the old New York Jewish song writer – was one of the kinds of characters one could imagine working in the Brill Building (there’s another skit in which Irving Cohen actually mentions the Brill Building, but it was taken down from YouTube for copyright violation):

    All of this is hardly even tangentially related to RSM’s post, but the Internet’s comment sections are the natural home for addled, somewhat disorganized brains, so…