April 28, 2011

"And yeah, I hear that she wants to now engage in more multidimensional storytelling."

"Versus, I guess, just the straight-on reading-into-that-teleprompter-screen storytelling. So more power to her. I wish her well with her multidimensional storytelling."

Sarah Palin mocks her nemesis Katie Couric.

Multidimensional storytelling is an expression that lends itself to comic riffing. Palin's jab isn't particularly clever. It's mainly just the sarcastic repeating of Couric's own term. How did the term "storytelling" catch on over the last quarter century as a positive way to talk about narration of real-world events? If I remember correctly, before about 1980, the term "storytelling" mainly referred to fiction or lying.

There was a real fad in the legal academy for writing and pontificating about "telling stories" about this or that aspect of law, and it was meant in a positive way. I hate to pick on an individual lawprof, but here's an example of what I'm talking about from a recent law review article:
Narratives matter, place matters, and care's embrace of storytelling situates law in a more robust dialogue on the allocation of rights to controlling our surroundings.
Like most law review article sentences, it has a footnote:

Ecofeminist literature often portrays the ethic of care through the use of narrative, telling stories of human and nature interactions, in which nature is approached not as a challenge or commodity, but as a partner or collaborator. Ecofeminist stories describe nature from the perspective of a loving eye instead of from arrogant perception - not as something to dominate and conquer, but as a participant in an experience. Karen Warren illustrates why ecofeminism relies on the power of narrative to undermine the patriarchal biases in rights rhetoric. Warren’s story invites the reader to the tension between the climber and a large rock edifice. Through her story, Warren is able to evaluate the process by which she reconsiders the goals of rock climbing, from which she arrives at an understanding of her relationship to this rock feature in which the two are engaged in one another as “silent conversational partners in a longstanding friendship.” [Karen J. Warren, The Power and Promise of Ecological Feminism, 12 ENV. ETHICS 125, 134 (1990).] Narrative enables the expression of interests and behaviors that may be misunderstood, undermined or excluded in dominant rhetoric. By rejecting the restraints of dominant vocabularies, narrative offers “a way of conceiving of ethics and ethical meaning as emerging out of particular situations moral agents find themselves in, rather than as being imposed on those situations (e.g. as a derivation or instantiation of some predetermined abstract principle or rule.” Id., at 136.
Whether Couric was ever steeped in this kind of scholarship, I don't know.


Shouting Thomas said...

That "ecofeminist" crap is some of the deepest bullshit I've ever read.

We really need to empty out the colleges and deep six any department with the word "studies" in its title.

Let the freeloaders go to work doing something productive.

Fred4Pres said...

Couric should have just been honest and admitted that ratings have not been so great at CBS News and that she is taking responsibility for it. While the ratings failures are not all Couric's fault, that would have been classy and of course mostly true.

I did hear a commentator on NPR suggest that what CBS should do is promote from within and the the savings of Couric's $15 million dollar annual salary hire some more reporters and get back to basics. He had a point. Network News may be "dying" but it still has four times the amount of viewers that cable news has. CBS should strengthen its network news coverage core and then partner with a cable outfit to give it 24 hour coverage when there are breaking news events. That would be affordable, doable relatively quickly, and would be a way for CBS to turn sour couric lemons into lemonade.

Go back to its core roots. It started off with five minute news casts in the fifties.

Pogo said...

Fiction + factoids + politics = Narrative

Hagar said...

Good grief!

Pastafarian said...

I've noticed the same thing about the current use of the term "storytelling" versus how it was once used.

I've assumed that it sprang from the same people that refer to what I call "bull-shitting" as "oral history"; and from the same people that pretend that stories passed on through oral tradition are just as valid a history as something written down at or near the time of the event.

I took the use of this word "story-telling" to be a sort of condescension to cultures that such people like to pretend to believe are in every way the equal of our own; a sort of folksy identification with these cultures in an effort to seem more genuine.

Shanna said...

Palin's comment actually reads kind of mean to me. Not that Couric isn't mean herself, but still.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I advocate the return of ecomasculinism, with things like harpooning nemesis white whales and big dogs named Buck. I want a novel about a plateau inhabited by dinosaurs which the hero can exterminate with great manly feats. It's only fiction, after all.

The Crack Emcee said...

If I remember correctly, before about 1980, the term "storytelling" mainly referred to fiction or lying.

Something's changed?

traditionalguy said...

A Very apropos observation of the News reports that we are being fed today, which are stories first and only contain scraps of news added for appearances sake. The real stuff is only on live TV or the as yet unedited tape of live events. It takes the professional conjurers about 1 to 2 hours to finish twisting everything to fit the Story Line. Trooper is right about reality TV teaching more about real life than News reporters do.

jeannebodine said...

"Palin's jab isn't particularly clever."

You people and you know who you are and we know who you are just can't help yourselves can you? Sick.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

No, Palin's comment isn't particularly witty, but it is amazing how easy it is to hoist a ninny like Couric on her own petard. Multidimensional storytelling, indeed. I can't decide which is a bigger load of shit, that or ecofeminism.

Fred4Pres said...

I am pretty sure Edward R. Murrow did not describe what he did for CBS News as "storytelling."

AJ Lynch said...

Multi-dimensional? Don't you need one of those Star Trek thingamajiggys for that?

AJ Lynch said...


The proper name is womyn's and gender studies.

Alex said...

Sarah Palin a moron? Old news.

KenK said...

That dumb bitch. Who cares where the hell she goes? Is anyone gonna click the button to watch here there? Good grief.

Coketown said...

Remember a couple months back when the left side of the blogosphere pondered why so much great literature is inherently liberal? (Their definition of "literature" consisted of Upton Sinclair and some contemporary sci-fi novelist.) Their conclusion: Narratives are liberally biased.

Let's construct a syllogism using a synthesis of Couric and the liberal blogosphere:

News is narrative.
Narrative is liberally biased.
Ergo, news is liberally biased.

I don't see why liberals get so huffy when we point this out. The jerks.

Beth said...

Crack, what happened to your blog?

PaulV said...

NY Sun wants her to be chairman of Fed for her accurate predictions on QE. Woman has learned fast.

Robin said...

Alex, and yet she is certainly not outclassed in IQ by Couric.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
KenK said...
That dumb bitch. Who cares where the hell she goes? Is anyone gonna click the button to watch here there? Good grief.

I see what you did there, KenK and it’s BRILLIANT, Bravo…Kudos…you have created a Rorschach…just who IS the “dumb B!tch” the assumptions of who you actually mean say so much about the commenter….Well Done Sir!

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
Beth said...
Crack, what happened to your blog?

I’m thinking his crazy New Age Ex-Wife and a bunch of homeopathy practicing Feminist-Vegans shut it down…….Did I get all of the “enemies” on the Crack Enemies List there?

Freeman Hunt said...

How did the term "storytelling" catch on over the last quarter century as a positive way to talk about narration of real-world events?

I don't know, but I hate it.

"Facts! Facts! Boring facts! Screw facts! Emotion, that's the thing! Put everything in an emotional context! Focusing on the a-rational will make our perspective more rational!"

It's emotional, so, you know, lots of these: !!!

ricpic said...

The issue isn't Palin's smarts or lack thereof, the issue is that Couric, allegedly an objective newsperson, is Palin's nemesis, a scandal that barely raises a smart-set eyebrow.

Jeff said...

My head exploded at "care's embrace". And it went downhill after that.

Sigivald said...

Apropos the footnote and your question, the postmodernists are all about "narrative".

Narrative and storytelling are more or less synonymous.

Thus, the idea that every argument and all views are just storytelling.

(Do I oversimplify? Maybe a little, but not in a way that changes anything.

To the extent that the important postmodernist authors even made any coherent point, I've never seen a defense of them that involved the rejection of "everything is viewpoint" that held any water, no matter how much the proponent wanted to wring it out of the mess.

A pox on the entire Goddamn lot of them.)

Paul Zrimsek said...

Anyone who isn't touched by the story of the ecofeminist who finally found an intellectual equal to converse with must have a heart of, well, stone.

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Hayden said...

I think that this story telling is a good part of why the traditional MSM is rapidly falling by the way side.

Couric, and her ilk, have spent their careers telling us the "news" as stories with a liberal slant. Sometimes that liberal slant is small, and sometimes it is enormous. Nevertheless, the narrative that they (and she) have been telling us for so long is designed to keep their liberal friends in power and to to advance liberal power.

Palin doesn't shed any tears here for Couric, and neither do many others on the right. Couric did her job in taking down Palin and putting Obama in the White House, and bumbling Joe across the street. And, then, she is surprised when her ratings continue to crater.

What would have happened if the MSM, including Ms. Couric, had subjected Obama and bumbling Joe to even half the scrutiny that they did to Palin? If the American people had known up front about Obama's background, friends, and lack of experience and competence, and that his running mate seems to be experiencing advanced dementia. Would the economy have cratered as badly? Would we be involved in Libya? Would the Justice Department have squashed as many investigations of terrorists and black racists? The list could go on.

The unfortunate part of the whole thing though is first that Couric is probably going to take a lot of money with her, and second that we are likely to see her again.

E.M. Davis said...

Walter Duranty's got Couric beat by a few decades in the storytelling department.

J said...

Couric a liberal?

Only to a confused techie-sodbuster such as Hayden. She and CBS supported the Iraq war. She may put on the PC act or vote..Demo...(yikes!), but Couric/CBS is...neo-con actually. Like yr old heroes Nixon and Kissinger, Bruceski

Bruce Hayden said...

The issue isn't Palin's smarts or lack thereof, the issue is that Couric, allegedly an objective newsperson, is Palin's nemesis, a scandal that barely raises a smart-set eyebrow.

The funny thing is that Palin is turning out to be smarter than most of her detractors. What she wasn't, when she interviewed with Couric, was experienced and knowledgeable about foreign policy and the like. Which isn't surprising, as most of us aren't.

Palin is the woman who pegged the problems with quantitative easing last fall. And has seen and articulated the problems with the liberal orthodoxy and the Democrats' agenda and actions, better than almost anyone else in this country.

OH, and did you hear about Obama complaining that he hadn't known that there was no such thing as shovel ready projects, after he had squandered almost a billion dollars on his "stimulus" plan. Money borrowed from the Chinese, that our children and grandchildren will have to pay back.

Just pointing out that Palin wasn't the only rookie in that election.

bagoh20 said...

"Multidimensional storytelling" is what they call it when the story and the telling are weak. It's not that the story is bad or that I told it poorly - you're just missing the multidimensionality of it all.

Trooper York said...

Katie Couric has as much credibility as a newsperson as Jill Zarin or Ramona Singer.

G Joubert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

"Walter Duranty's got Couric beat by a few decades..."

Wally only got a Pulitzer outta the deal.

Couric got rich.
Perky storytelling: effective and lucrative!

J said...

I bet she has a pretty pussay. Expensive one too.

Couric's Snatch:

Shaved? Trimmed? Full bush?

vote now

Alex Bensky said...

Karen Warren had a "silent conversation" with a rock. What I'd like to know is what the rock said to her. For that matter, I'd like to know what a "silent conversation" is because--at least according to my patriarchal understanding--"conversation" means two or more people saying something.

Frankly, my guess is that Karen Warren was being satirical, posing as every misogynist's idea of a ditzy woman suddenly thrust into an academic position, showing that she is about as unconnected with reality as it is possible to be.

Synova said...

That Palin could be seen as being "mean" to Couric says quite a bit about Couric.

I never did quite get her. She wanted to be a serious news person instead of the "perky" morning show host. And someone decided to give her the news-reading role. What's up with that? She never had anything remotely resembling gravitas. I'm sorry she didn't like "perky" but that's how it goes.

I suppose she's Palin's nemisis, sort of. And while I will never claim that Palin did well in that interview, Couric did just as badly. Scowl, scowl, scowl. Hunched over her script and entirely unengaged and unresponsive.

DADvocate said...

They like storytelling because is allows them to go beyond the facts and create a narrative fitting their political beliefs rather than analyze events and circumstances in a factual, objective manner.

wordsmith2 said...

In my professional life, I edit this stuff. Karen Warren is not being satirical; her discussion of ecofeminism is guaranteed to get her tenure somewhere.

Original Mike said...

I can't think of a place where she can tell bigger whoppers than the CBS Nightly News.

rhhardin said...

Whether Couric was ever steeped in this kind of scholarship, I don't know.

A hot tub as partner.

AllenS said...

What Palin said was multi-dimensionally hip and right on the mark. You can't beat taking someone elses poor choice of words and using them against the idiot that said them.


John Lynch said...

I think it's fine to call it storytelling. That's exactly what it is.

All the left/liberal interest in narratives is completely justified. That's what politics is about- stuffing the world through a filter to reinforce existing beliefs.

This is all refreshingly honest.

Phil 3:14 said...

"Multidimensional storytelling"

Is that like Studs Terkel on the Internet with pictures?

Ankur said...

Storytelling = dumbing down.

Storytelling is what morons who can't understand abstractions need to get a vague sense of knowledge.

Let me tell you a story about two vendors in a linear city.

Ralph L said...

In my professional life, I edit this stuff
Poor you.
I hear the Sanitation Department is hiring.

Oligonicella said...

story telling = empathy, what's not to like?

Pogo said...

CNN's Christiane Christiane Amanpour on objectivity:
"The very notion of objectivity in war becomes immensely important... I have come to believe that objectivity means giving all sides a fair hearing, but not treating all sides equally.

Once you treat all the sides the same in a case such as Bosnia, you are drawing a moral equivalence between victim and aggressor. And from there is a short step toward being neutral. And from there it’s an even shorter step to becoming an accessory to all manners of evil: in Bosnia’s case, genocide. So objectivity must go hand in hand with morality.

shiloh said...

Palin's comment actually reads kind of mean to me.

mama grizzly's m.o. of childish pettiness.

but, but, but there will always be a small minority of clueless teabaggers who worship her regardless.

Couric moved on whereas palin still holds a grudge lol.

Foolishly going after Couric is just another indication klondike sara is not running for president.

You bet'cha!

Pogo said...

"Socialism is precisely the religion that must overwhelm Christianity. … In the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches and the media by transforming the consciousness of society."
Antonio Gramsci, 1915

D. B. Light said...

The Rankean ideal of purely objective reporting is a chimera. It doesn't exist. Anyone who believes E. R. Murrow was objective should look at his slobbering interview of then Senator JFK. He was in the tank. Facts can be objectively reported, but their significance is a matter of interpretation. Reporters don't just give us facts. They select and order them, assign them meaning, etc. In the process they are relating narratives. Amanpour is right. The best we can do is to be fair and as inclusive as possible.

RonF said...

Ms. Amanpour is correct in what she says. But what she forgets is that her job is not to make moral judgements; her job is to present to us the facts that we need to make our own moral judgements.

But that means that we might make moral judgements that she disagrees with. Then she would be stripped of the power of directing the public's opinions, instead of simply informing them. And she and her ilk have no intention of relinquishing that power.

Pogo said...

Where Amanpour and CNN are wrong, and therefore deceitful, is in choosing sides but not being absolutely clear about that.

CNN's lies in its dealings with Saddam Hussein are inexcusable.

Dark Eden said...

"What the hell is this crap?"

- Reaction of the LifeForceSpirit of the "Large Rock Edifice" mentioned in this story, upon being read the ecofeminist passage concerning it.

(LifeForceSpirit of Large Rock Edifice Channeled by Dark Eden)

ddh said...

Katie Couric may never learn the zen-like wisdom of Buckeroo Banzai. As he said somewhere across the eighth dimension, "Wherever you go, there you are."

D. B. Light said...

My point is that Ms. Amanpour, indeed anyone who seeks meaning in the world cannot be objective. We all construct narratives to give meaning to our experience. Your narrative obviously is at odds with hers. She has a limited amount of time to fill. She, in accordance with her biases, picks and chooses what information to impart and how to frame it. You would make different choices, but that fact does not reflect badly on her, or on you. If she so effectively influences the people who view her presentations, then how is it that you, and so many other people, are able to think independently and critically about her?

Pogo said...

If she so effectively influences the people..."

If CNN and the MSM are so ineffective, why do they bother?

Because they are in fact effective.

It's why Gramsci advised the long march through the institutions. It's why stALIn and mao and Pol pot and Castro demanded control over the education of children and control of the media.

Synova said...

Is it foolish to go after her, though, Shiloh? Is it somehow going to backfire on Palin that she lets someone ask her about Couric and uses the opportunity to highlight Couric's own words?

It may be unnecessary to go after Couric, but that's a different thing.

Also, Couric may have "moved on" but I don't see that she learned anything about journalism in the mean time. It's easy to "move on" but it's hardly the high ground.

And it is mean to criticize or make fun of Couric? I'm asking seriously. Are the media and journalists off limits somehow? Do they stand apart from events and don't have to answer, then, for how they do their jobs? It does seem to me that there is a certain "one-way" flow of the relationship of journalists to public figures. They get to "speak truth to power" but never have to have "power" speak back?

The thing of it is, Couric is a hack.

People get distracted by Palin and don't look at Couric. When I said "scowl, scowl, scowl" I meant just that. And hunched over a *script*. Who has a script of an interview?

Yes, of course, journalists are supposed to ask hard questions. But I don't think that their job includes deciding who ought to win and then diverting attention to trivialities. She had a responsibility to ask any candidate she interviewed the sorts of things that would give viewers the most information about them. Who even bothers to do that these days? It's all entertainment.

She *gushed* at Obama.

Maybe that seems natural to you, but it seems unprofessional to me.

So let her go tell her stories. It will make her happy.

edutcher said...

Fred4Pres said...

I am pretty sure Edward R. Murrow did not describe what he did for CBS News as "storytelling."

Why increasing numbers of people get their news off the Internet.

Bruce Hayden said...

The issue isn't Palin's smarts or lack thereof, the issue is that Couric, allegedly an objective newsperson, is Palin's nemesis, a scandal that barely raises a smart-set eyebrow.

The funny thing is that Palin is turning out to be smarter than most of her detractors. What she wasn't, when she interviewed with Couric, was experienced and knowledgeable about foreign policy and the like. Which isn't surprising, as most of us aren't.

I doubt Little Katie is Miss Sarah's nemesis. Put them in a room together without Mrs Palin being "coached" by Steve Schmidt and see whose reputation is improved.

PS Mr FUD has it wrong as always. Miss Sarah has moved on to better things, like arousing public opposition to ZeroCare and nailing QE2 to the wall.

Little Katie is stuck where she was 3 years ago.

hombre said...

Palin's jab isn't particularly clever.

"Clever" isn't necessary if "called for" applies.

And it does.

Francisco D said...

I have a colleague who recently took an extended seminar series on "story telling". He was a good bullshitter - something required for business development in the consulting world. He just wanted to hone his skills.

D. B. Light said...

Pogo -- The opposition of you and millions of other Americans to the left wing agenda that permeates many of our institutions is evidence that a Gramscian hegemony of the left is still far from realized. To the extent that the political left comes to dominate institutions those institutions come under attack and are marginalized. Moreover, if you were a man of the left, you would look at American institutions and see in them a flourishing capitalist hegemony. It all depends on your perspective and narrative. And, in response to your query, "why do they bother?", for money, of course -- either for the network itself or for their corporate owners.

The Crack Emcee said...


Crack, what happened to your blog?

Google shut it down. I'll be posting at Flying Tiger Comics tonight, before moving moving to themachoresponse.com tomorrow. Wish I had done it sooner: I lost a lot of shit.

Joe (The Crypto Jew),

I’m thinking his crazy New Age Ex-Wife and a bunch of homeopathy practicing Feminist-Vegans shut it down…….Did I get all of the “enemies” on the Crack Enemies List there?

Nope - you missed a lot. This is the third time it's been taken down, but the first time by Google, so the idea I have enemies is no more of a fever dream than the idea the groups I talk about are dangerous. Like the attacks on Sarah Palin, though she "doesn't stand a chance", who sabotages a blog supposedly talking about nonsense? I think it's funny how, when talking about the major religions, nobody questions the fervent conviction of believers but, when discussing NewAgers, few can conceive of them acting irrationally - or even violently - on their irrational beliefs. That's how my wife and her quack got away with their murders for so long:

No one could believe it.

You, Joe, are typical of the kind of person who allows murderers to go free.

Milwaukee said...

"I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful, and I think she's very happy in Alaska," Bush said, before adding, "and I hope she'll stay there." is what Barbara Bush said about Palin. Could we something similar about Katie? While Sarah and Katie are both attractive, Katie is attractive in a cute way, which probably works better for a 20-something coed than for a 50-something news anchor. Sarah is more attractive in a wholesome adult woman way. Sarah will be attractive at any age because of her buoyant personality. Cute doesn't work so well with wrinkles and old age. Of course, Barbara can stay in Kinnebunkport. Is this a cat fight?

Speaking of cat fights, interesting that our host chose to link to the original interview, rather than to Palin's remarks. Sort of don't want to miss a chance to get in a dig. You do know that middle school was all over a long time ago. We all know that Ann is not a conservative blogger.

Douglas said...

I'm recalling the bit from The Pirate s of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan, where the Major General, after telling the pirates a bald-faced whopper to escape their clutches, sings to the audience...

I'm telling a terrible story,
But it doesn't diminish my glory.
For they would have taken my daughters
Over the billowy waters.
It's easy, in elegant diction,
To call it an innocent fiction
But it falls in the same category as telling
A regular, terrible story

So in 1880's England, "story" was a common way of saying the word "lie." So a story has been a lie for a very long time.

holdfast said...

Maybe it is a German thing, but when made Dad would say that I (or someone) was "telling stories", it was his polite way of saying that he thought I was lying.

Of course, that works pretry well sor a scrunt like Couric.

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