January 11, 2011

Roger Ailes to Fox News "guys": "I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually..."

"You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that."

By I hope the other side does that, I think he means he hopes the other side tones it down. But maybe her means he hopes the other side does it with bombast — so that it's the conservatives who are rational and the liberals who are raving.

Wait a minute! What am I saying? Conservatives... liberals... they're all journalists! But Ailes is the one who used the expression "the other side" — which is, I might add, rather militaristic and hence not toned down. Ironically.

***

Let me take one more opportunity to reprint what George Orwell said about dying metaphors:
Dying metaphors. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead" (e.g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles' heel, swan song, hotbed. Many of these are used without knowledge of their meaning (what is a "rift," for instance?), and incompatible metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying.
Yeah, I know dying metaphors. Dying. Another negative metaphor. A metaphor about a metaphor.

By the way, what is bombast? Bombs must be involved, right?
bombast (n.)
1560s, "cotton padding," corrupted from earlier bombace (1550s), from O.Fr. bombace "cotton, cotton wadding," from L.L. bombacem, acc. of bombax "cotton, 'linteorum aut aliae quaevis quisquiliae,' " a corruption and transferred use of L. bombyx "silk," from Gk. bombyx "silk, silkworm" (which also came to mean "cotton" in Medieval Gk.), from some oriental word, perhaps related to Iranian pambak (modern panba) or Armenian bambok, perhaps ultimately from a PIE root meaning "to twist, wind." From stuffing and padding for clothes or upholstery, meaning extended to "pompous, empty speech" (1580s). Also from the same source are Swed. bomull, Dan. bomuld "cotton," and, via Turkish forms, Mod.Gk. mpampaki, Romanian bumbac, Serbo-Cr. pamuk. Ger. baumwolle "cotton" is probably from the Latin word but altered by folk-etymology to look like "tree wool." Pol. bawelna, Lith. bovelna are partial translations from German.
See? That's exactly what Orwell was talking about! People use the word "bombast" to convey explosiveness, but that is not the original metaphor.

49 comments:

Hoosier Daddy said...

If they actually would still teach history in our schools, most people would realize that the 'vitriol' and 'rhetoric' today is pretty tame by historical standards. Then again when 'hate speech' is dumbed down to mean 'I oppose your agenda' then what does one expect?

The fact that there is zero evidence that any rhetoric, from either right or left had any influence on the shooter doesn't to matter to some as if they can't help but not try to score some cheap political points.

Coketown said...

Apart from Shaggy's song "Mr. Bombastic," I've only ever heard the word used to convey a sense of "pompous, empty speech." Forceful, pompous, empty speech. Like the opposite of the King's Speech, which is all the rage lately.

dont tread 2012 said...

I will not step foot in one of those big 'Target' stores, ever again. Clearly, 'adults' of today simply cannot manage their language. Furthermore, I think such incendiary expressions like 'target audience' or 'target market' should be banned. I expect 'Aim' toothpaste to be immediately pulled from store shelves, too dangerous. 'Scope' mouthwash, too. The medical community should be warned about 'trigger' points; Microsoft Word's 'bullet' points should be solved immediately with a software patch. 'Cracker Barrel' Restaurant should be shuttered forever. Muscular arms should never be referred to as 'guns', too violent. Somebody want to ride 'shotgun'? Make them walk.

Julius said...

Good job, Althouse! Now you are talking about cotton... isn't that an attack on black people, a way of reminding them that they are descended from cotton-picking slaves?

aronamos said...

Just when you think nothing will unite right and left on this Arizona thing, here comes Westboro Baptist Church to protest at the funerals.

Fred Phelps, he's a uniter.

garage mahal said...

So instead every night saying matter of factly that Obama is a baby killing Marxist terrorist hell bent on destroying this country so he can hand it over to the New Black Panthers, it will be he is accidentally doing it? Maybe Fox and Geraldo Rivera could help Obama find his birth certificate?

traditionalguy said...

In the 1960s the metaphor for the Adult Establishment was armed men that would attack students for no good cause, like the Kent State images. They are snagging that one out of the collective subconscious and attaching it at every opportunity to angry Tea Party voters that must seem to these Marxists to be armed ( with a vote) men who are attacking Marxists for no good reason. IF ONLY A VOTE CAN BE SEEN AS EQUAL TO A GUN...then they have a point. So Ailes is asking his news analysis crew to stop throwing gas on this fire until rational arguments can divide the image being shoveled from the facts.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

By I hope the other side does that, I think he means he hopes the other side tones it down. But maybe her means he hopes the other side does it with bombast — so that it's the conservatives who are rational and the liberals who are raving.

I assume he means that he hopes the other side tones it down and acts rational. After all, he owns a news channel, and liberals acting rationally would be news. Liberals raving, not so much.

virgil xenophon said...

"...here comes Westboro Babtist Church..."

Indeed. The proverbial "you couldn't make it up."

Mick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

I assume Ailes had a stroke and is functioning as a child.

PaulV said...

rhhardin,
How are you functioning now? Not up to the child's level it seems?

Richard Dolan said...

Well, at least this post has inspired some inventive word play in the comments. I especially like DT 2012's idea of banning Aim toothpaste.

Everything was going along fine in a vortexy way -- from Ailes to Orwell to "See?". Until, that is, you stop to note that what you're supposed to see -- "By the way, what is bombast? Bombs must be involved, right?" -- isn't there at all. The Althousian vortex is supposed to be a bit dizzying, and it succeeds more than normally on this one.

Then there's this: "People use the word 'bombast' to convey explosiveness, but that is not the original metaphor." Perhaps some people do that, but you don't cite any and that's not what Ailes meant to convey -- his point was more about "the other side is bloviating" angle.

And "the other side" isn't "rather militaristic" -- just the invocation of a simplistic dualism, an either/or idea.

If yuo're along for a ride on the vortex, you just have to take the ups and downs as they come.

kohlm901 said...

Maybe Ailes was referring to CNN and MSNBC as "the other side", and not Liberals.
Oh, wait. . .

Sigivald said...

But Ailes is the one who used the expression "the other side" — which is, I might add, rather militaristic and hence not toned down.

"The other side" is about the least militaristic metaphor for opposition I can imagine.

Physical division of opponents (by their own choices of location, in fact, not even requiring external segregation) doesn't really imply a military metaphor.

And the idea that opposition as such is militaristic or violent is untenable outside of a tiny minority of thoughtless hippies.

(If, at a wedding, the groom's family is on one side of the chapel, and the bride's on the other, are they at war?

No.

Well, okay, not inherently.)

Mick said...

Here's a metaphor. The natural born Citizen requirement is Obama's Kryptonite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFnJ2U_cZ8o&feature=related

EDH said...

I always laugh when I read how Orwell introduces "Dying Metaphors" and other abuses of language.

This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house. I list below, with notes and examples, various of the tricks by means of which the work of prose-construction is habitually dodged...

AST said...

But what would the media do without cliches?

knox said...

"Bombast" is like "enormity" ... it sounds very much like it means something that it doesn't.

The Crack Emcee said...

Yeah, I know dying metaphors. Dying. Another negative metaphor.

See, this is why I know you're a NewAger. You get hung-up on the word "negative" (just as I needled Meade about the word "fear") which is a NewAge trope. Check out this guy in so-called "mindfulness therapy":

"When a negative thought pops off in my head, I say to myself, 'There's a thought. And feelings aren't facts.'"

While I'm glad he's figured out "feelings aren't facts", he should also learn thoughts aren't bad just because they're "negative" - they can be quite helpful, actually.

You should learn that, too.

Hagar said...

Roger Ailes to Fox News "guys": "I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually..."


Including Geraldo Rivera?
I Wish Mr. Ailes luck with that.

Terry said...

The "bombast" metaphor means more than a martial explosion. there is no cannonball fired, so it is dangerous and sounds war-like but actually does very little.
It would mean something like firing a very big-sounding blank.

Just Lurking said...

So instead every night saying matter of factly that Obama is a baby killing Marxist terrorist hell bent on destroying this country so he can hand it over to the New Black Panthers, it will be he is accidentally doing it? Maybe Fox and Geraldo Rivera could help Obama find his birth certificate?

And even if all of the above is said on Fox news (I don't watch it, so I don't know), so what?

Do those word give you the vapors? Do you have a problem hearing things you disagree with?

Or are you afraid that people will just accept every bit of crap they hear on the airways?

The updated progressive mantra: We have to think of the children; think of the stupid; think of the crazies.

For me, people spouting stupid shit don't scare me nearly as much as the self-righteous jerks who want to silence them.

Biff said...

Bombast does convey an explosive context, even when we are speaking of cotton wadding.

Cotton wadding is used to prepare certain types of muskets, shotguns, and other arms for firing. Depending upon the weapon and the intended use, the wadding is placed between the explosive charge and the projectile, or the wadding my be placed on top of the projectile, i.e. to keep a musket's contents from leaking out.

cf. "blowing one's wad."

k*thy said...

Crack - he knows. You and the mindfulness guy are saying the same thing.

virgil xenophon said...

"Bombast" is what "bombastic" Fog-Horn Leghorn spouts

R.L. Hunter said...

Metaphor has always been at war with Irony.

Sheepman said...

By I hope the other side does that, I think he means he hopes the other side tones it down.

I think he hopes that the other side doesn't tone it down and Fox News, which started out as the rebel outsider against the liberal MSM, now becomes the the responsible "establishment" network.

Oligonicella said...

The local math team scored twice as many points as the other side.

Please explain the militarism.

Revenant said...

make your argument intellectually

If you rounded up every broadcast journalist who was capable of presenting an intellectual argument you'd have to title the show "One on One with Charles Krauthammer and Michael Kinsley".

edutcher said...

I note all our trolls, mobies, posers, and assorted infiltrators have been reduced to inane non-sequiturs.

Does this mean they've shot their bolt?

Or just their wad?

Matthew said...

I believe I've read somewhere (Daniel Boorstin, maybe?)that the "modern" usage of the word "bombast" might be due to the influence of one Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (a.k.a. Paracelsus), one of the fathers of modern medicine, pharmacology and toxicology.

Paracelsus was known to publicly denounce both the Christian view of disease as the wages of sin, and the Medical profession's view of disease as an inbalance of elemental "humors", that could be "fixed" by bloodletting, sweating, and inducing both vomiting and excretion. (hopefully not at the same time).

Paracelsus routinely referred to his clerical and medical opponents as know-nothings, children, and idiots. Example:

"I am Theophrastus, and greater than those to whom liken me; I am Theophrastus and in addition I am monarcha medicorum and I can prove to you what you cannot prove. I neednot don a coat of mail or buckler against you, for you are not learned or experienced enough to refute even a word of mine.As for you, you can defend your kingdom with belly-crawling and flattery. How long do you think this will last? Let me tell you this: every little hair on my neck knows more than you and all your scribes, andmy shoe buckles are more learned than your Galen or Avicenna, andmy beard has more experience than all your high colleges..."

Sounds *exactly* like Keith Olbermann.

However, I believe that lexicologists are not exactly certain the word "bombast" in it's current usage is directly attributable to his name and/or demeanor.

The Crack Emcee said...

k*thy,

Crack - he knows. You and the mindfulness guy are saying the same thing.

First, I don't understand who the "he" you refer to is.

Second, the mindfulness guy and I aren't saying the same thing:

He's afraid of "negative" thoughts, and is trying to find a way to dismiss them. I accept them as a part of life's experience, and even embrace them, when necessary, as a doctor would a worst-case scenario (in order to discover how to make a patient better) or a joke with cruel (but hilarious) connotations. The NewAger's blanket rejection of anything "negative" is stupid and stifling.

Deyjarus said...

"If they actually would still teach history in our schools, most people would realize that the 'vitriol' and 'rhetoric' today is pretty tame by historical standards."

As a society shouldn't we try to evolve past that? Because it was used in the past and perhaps was worse then, isn't a real justification for it not, its just an excuse to continue something that drags us down not lifts us up.


"The fact that there is zero evidence that any rhetoric, from either right or left had any influence on the shooter doesn't to matter to some as if they can't help but not try to score some cheap political points."

Besides the growth of the number of militias in the US touting one or more of those journalists as inspiration? That seems to have grown with the tone in politics lately. One group even tried to assassinate their local Sheriff. The numbers are staggering, and the members of these groups aren't all mentally ill like the shooter in the Arizona case.

I'm not saying it should be illegal for anyone to speak out in such a way in any medium. I'm saying we as society if we are trying to make a better world to live in, perhaps we shouldn't give those who use those tactics so much interest. If they know people are going to see them negatively and stop listening to them when they speak out in that manner, they'll perhaps find a different tactic.

Matthew said...

"One group even tried to assassinate their local Sheriff."

Wasn't that "group" or at least it's leaders, exonerated by a judge who determined they had not planned any such thing, and that the idea originated with a federal agent provocateur?

I could be wrong, though, but I don't recall any of those people ever being prosecuted.

Fen said...

I'm not saying it should be illegal for anyone to speak out in such a way in any medium. I'm saying we as society if we are trying to make a better world to live in, perhaps we shouldn't give those who use those tactics so much interest. If they know people are going to see them negatively and stop listening to them when they speak out in that manner, they'll perhaps find a different tactic.

Agreed. We should stop listening to journalists. But then, there will always be idiots who remain to enable the likes of CNN and the NYTs.

Better, we should toss all "journalists" into labor camps so their vitriolic hate-mongering doesn't damage any more fragile Libtard brains.

/btw, nice try with your "staggering rise of militia targeting journalists". Next time, source it. You work for Pravda et al, yes?

Matthew said...

Agreed, Fen, but I think Deyjarus misses a crucial point:

Rather than arguingabout left-and-right wing rhetoric, whyis that we've had a 15-month semi-debate, and an unconstitutional passage of a so-called Health Care Bill, one of the true crises of the American Health Care system went undiscussed:

How to deal with, and treat, potentially thousands of Jared Loughner's *before* they go off. Everyone that knew him agrees is absolutely batshit-insane, but somehow he can't be committed, or receive the help that might have saved some lives, because of Civil Liberties concerns and cash-strapped state mental facilities.

Instead, we argued about how to give low-cost Viagra to Senior Citizens.

Matthew said...

Excuse my grammar today. Had a wisdom tooth pulled and the drugs are kicking in.

Fen said...

Everyone that knew him agrees is absolutely batshit-insane, but somehow he can't be committed, or receive the help that might have saved some lives, because of Civil Liberties concerns and cash-strapped state mental facilities.

My understanding is that the idiot Sherrif who's been running his mouth had several warnings and opportunities to put the perp on a gun ban list but droppped the ball.

Hope you teeth came out okay.

Matthew said...

Well, it was like...pulling teeth.

PaulV said...

If words have no meaning, how can rhetoric exist

Revenant said...

As a society shouldn't we try to evolve past that?

We "evolved" from "trying to kill people we vehemently disagree with" to "criticizing people we vehemently disagree with".

Why, exactly, should we want to "evolve" further than that? Is speech to be reserved for inanities and platitudes, lest anyone's feelings be hurt?

Just Lurking said...

I'm saying we as society if we are trying to make a better world to live in, perhaps we shouldn't give those who use those tactics so much interest.

It's a nice thought, but:

1) With the exception of waging war, societies don't act; the individuals in them do. We are not Borg. The only way you can attempt to get everyone in a society to do something is by decree.

2) With the exception of rhhardin, most people, to varying degrees, can't help but be attracted to drama - or soap opera as rhhardin calls it. "Just don't look" just don't work for many people. Drama is attractive. What else explains why Lady GaGa and that Snooki person are so popular?

Matthew said...

Personally, I thought it was because Lady GaGa has an awesome body, and Snooki looks like she could throw a good one -- if you could keep your eyes closed long enough, or managed to pretend that she was someone else.

AlphaLiberal said...

Do you catch the news on the latest patently false Fox News report?

They (Greta VS) said the DHS tied Loughren (sp?) to white supremacist and had a memo to that effect. DHS did not issue that memo. An Arizona state agency did and took credit for it:

An Arizona law enforcement agency is backing away from a document it produced in the aftermath of Saturday's shootings in Tucson -- and which was leaked to Fox News -- that linked the man accused with carrying out the crimes to a white nationalist publication.

After Fox News began citing the document in its broadcasts, initially describing it as a memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the story was picked up by other media, which suggested that the federal government was looking at the role of the publication, American Renaissance, in motivating the shootings.

David Denlinger, commander of the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center acknowledged that the document came from his agency, but contained errors and overstated the link between Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old charged with shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others outside a Tucson supermarket, and American Renaissance.


So how in the world did they confuse DHS for the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center?

By lying, in order to push a political spin and misinform their viewers.

Consume Fox News at your own peril.

reformaliberal said...

No, I'm not toning it down... gonna call it like it is. Now that more people are getting to see liberals in their true, raw colors, they want us to watch our rhetoric?

I don't freaking think so.

http://reformaliberal.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/busting-ours-to-kick-yours/

RossAZ said...

AlphaLiberal,

You're ignoring chronology, all news organizations make mistakes in "breaking news". To weave a conspiracy from this is less than rational, but certainly serving in masturbatory intellectual release.

You labeled Loughner earlier on as right-wing, but everyone that knows Loughner personally has said he was "left-wing or extremely liberal". I may have missed it, but have you acknowledged that Loughner is likely left-wing, by all accounts, or all you still maintaining this was a right-wing act? If you haven't, you're a liar by you're own criterion. You do believe that your criterion is valid, don't you?

It's likely that Loughner is a paranoid schizophrenic, his writings really point to that, making everything you've wrote sad as well irrational.

Most political assassins shoot their intended target and do not fire at the crowd. Should have been a clue. Neither you, Florida, J, et al, let that get in your way. Shame on all of you.

BTW, I live in Arizona. Giffords was a conservative Democrat, in a liberal Tucson, and the Sheriff is known to be a partisan liberal Democrat.

His department is now under fire because this kid was showing signs of mental illness when his department was dealing with him. Had his department sought a psychiatric review, Loughner would not have gotten a gun in November. Dupnik has, of course, made the records unavailable. On-going investigation, don't you know. CYA in Arizona.

backoutwest said...

I love the reference to 'politics and the english language' by orwell.

It should papered all over the hallways at CBSNBCCNNMSNBC etc etc etc

Deyjarus said...

Fen said...

" /btw, nice try with your "staggering rise of militia targeting journalists". Next time, source it. You work for Pravda et al, yes?"

If you are going to use quotes, then actually quote what I said, not make up a quote and assign it to me.

I said nothing about who they are targeting. I said nothing on their ideology right or left wing.

Typical, when you can't actually counter what someone actually said, build a fake argument and defeat that.