Real News Professional Employs Ad Hominem Method with Flair

March 17, 2023

I love “real news” output by Silicon Valley-savvy professionals. I read a good article called “Elon Musk Is An Angry Man Who turns on Everybody, Says Longtime Tech Journalist Kara Swisher.

I found the article interesting because it appeared in a Silicon Valley “real news” organ call BGR, which is acronym speak for Boy Genius Report. The article is a commentary on another Silicon Valley type of “real news” professional. I think this is meta-meta news. It is similar to podcasters, who are “real journalists” interviewing a colleague who is also a “real news” professional. The silly idea of interviewing an informed person who is NOT a colleague is just too darned dull. The trend is that “real journalists” are the best experts to discuss a particular topic. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Ignore someone who works at a research center, a government agency responsible for policy in a specific area, an individual who publishes in non-news publications like a peer-reviewed journal, or a person recognized for excellence by some semi-respected outfit like the ACM or American Chemical Society, among others. Nope. Nope. Nope. Dull.

The write up includes this statement from Ms. Swisher’s podcast On. I am not sure if this is a direct quote about Mr. Musk. The context is that noted biographer Walter Isaacson is writing a book about Mr. Musk. Here’s the passage from the BGR article:

Swisher, in her podcast, went on to warn that Musk will almost certainly “turn on” Isaacson. “There’s nobody he won’t turn on,” she said, “unless he gets some help. And I wish he would.” In response to a question about whether she’s sick of talking about Musk at this point, though, she acknowledged that she isn’t, given his involvement in everything from defense to innovation, space, and cars. “He’s the Thomas Edison of the day, so no.”

Okay, is Ms. Swisher attacking the man Elon Musk, praising his Tesla and SpaceX innovations, or trying to have a bento box of Silicon Valley expert outputs?

I am voting for the ad hominen angle. I am not sure about the Tesla thing because — the full self driving — is not something I plan to test on Kentucky’s gravel roads. The bento box? That has some value in my judgment. What’s next in real journalism from Silicon Valley?

The University of Texas at El Paso provides a handy list of an additional 145 rhetorical techniques which can be applied to Silicon Valley “real news” generation. More podcasts provide an opportunity to try some of these out on Elon Musk type topics; for example, 141 “We have to do something” or 105. prosopology which is the reciting the names of those killed by Mr. Musk’s smart driving system.

Will the Musk – Swisher tension evolve into Silicon Valley’s variation of the Jack Benny – Fred Allen feud. That went on for years. There is so much innovation in Silicon Valley; for example, the Sundar and Prabhakar Comedy Show. Advertisers will battle to fund these programs.

Stephen E Arnold, March 17, 2023


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