03.19.09

The Perils of Comments From People Who Read Commentary

Posted in Blogged Down at 12:51 pm by

This is a little bit of bloggy inside baseball, but I thought it was interestingly weird enough to post, and it’s not like anything else is going on today in the world of sports, right? Don’t worry, there will be basketball coverage: I just wanted to get something up while GC is doing SXSW stuff and all the other contributors are working at their actual gigs.

As I’ve mentioned before, I cannot live on the adoration — and extensive profit-sharing revenue — I receive from this blog. I need other jobs, and find them wherever I can. This usually means writing for other (paying) venues and hoping that all the small paydays that result from that add up to enough for me to keep my lights on, internet a-flowing, turtles fed, security staff paid, etc. One such gig is my now somewhat-more-official gig at The Wall Street Journal, where I cobble together their Daily Fix sports roundup a couple times a week. (I did it this morning, actually)

It’s a fun enough job, although the notional prestige factor far outweighs the financial returns. I’m unable to decide whether I’m a sell-out (who sold out for cheap) or successfully subversive for cashing checks that come out of Rupert Murdoch’s account, but I do know to watch my step when it comes to treading on the tasseled loafers of that readership. For the most part, libertarians and right wingers and crypto-socialist goofs like me all enjoy sports in the same way, so as long as I keep my feelings on regulation out of the mix, it’s not an issue. But woe to the WSJ writer who even mentions the name of our current president…and double woe to that dude or lady should their post receive a link-back from Fox News.

Here’s what happened yesterday: Dan Shanoff, Blogging Franchise and new WSJ contributor, put up an amusing, utterly harmless post detailing President Obama’s 20-minute, bracket-oriented sit-down with ESPN’s Andy Katz. Obama, as is his tendency when it comes to things non-political, was frank and breezy and seemed pretty cool. I can think of at least a couple things I disagree with in his handling of the ongoing crumbling of capital’s very foundations economic crisis, but he picked a plausible Final Four and was totally on point about how shitty the Pac-10 was this year. Shanoff limns Obama’s picks in a half-mocking/half-dutiful simulation of the way the political media likes to parse politicians’ neckties and hairdos for some symbolic significance. All very nice.

Except…there are currently 62 comments on it. And of course argumentum ad comment section is always, always kind of a cheap trick — from Deadspin to YouTube, comments sections are often where the most typo-prone goofs of the internet do their trollish thing. Most blog posts at WSJ don’t do too much comment-related traffic, but Shanoff’s immediately had a bunch, and they nearly doubled between last night and this morning. A couple of classics — “we need a leader not a jerk like Osama;” and the downright YouTube-ian, “guys believe it or not omaba i think he is charging for publicity like ,interviews,magazine pictures and all the stuff why because is extra money for our country just simple like that Remember guys they have secret stuff” — arrived yesterday afternoon.

A flurry of negative new ones arrived this morning, many of them referencing Coach K’s typically humorless recitation of what appears to be the opposition talking point on Obama even having a bracket. “”Somebody said that we’re not in President Obama’s Final Four,” K said. “And as much as I respect what he’s doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets.” Burn-zyzewski!

Fox News’ story on K’s (absolutely newsworthy!) comment linked back to Shanoff’s blog post and dragged over more commenters; Shanoff’s post, now 24 hours old and third on the page, got three more comments during the time it took me to write this post. This might be why the term “echo chamber” gets used sometimes. And…yeah, that’s it. Enjoy your basketball.

One Response to “The Perils of Comments From People Who Read Commentary”

  1. Rog says:

    “guys believe it or not omaba i think he is charging for publicity like ,interviews,magazine pictures and all the stuff why because is extra money for our country just simple like that Remember guys they have secret stuff”

    I admit, I had a few beers before I wrote that comment about Obama.

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