Sunday, February 26, 2017

Smart people in charge of things is fine, but what you really want is wise people

In some quarters, well perhaps many quarters, I see that Tucker Carlson's new TV show is drawing a lot of accolades for tough questioning. I watched a couple of episodes and came away feeling that it wasn't my cup of tea. Too like John Stewart's old Daily Show with admittedly quick-witted, though often glib banter that deliberately or accidentally preened the 5% while coasting on simple gotcha journalism. Their crowning accomplishments were always around the editing of content to mock guests who engaged with some degree of integrity (though often with credulity). Stewart is talented but his accomplishments were masked by taking advantage of people.

Carlson seems more humane but my exposure to the two episodes did not temper my perception of yet more gotcha journalism, just from the other side.

This interview makes me have a more positive view. From The Bow-Tied Bard of Populism by McKay Coppins. In particular, I liked this insight:
To the extent that Carlson’s on-air commentary these days is guided by any kind of animating idea, it is perhaps best summarized as a staunch aversion to whatever his right-minded neighbors believe. The country has reached a point, he tells me, where the elite consensus on any given issue should be “reflexively distrusted.”

“Look, it’s really simple,” Carlson says. “The SAT 50 years ago pulled a lot of smart people out of every little town in America and funneled them into a small number of elite institutions, where they married each other, had kids, and moved to an even smaller number of elite neighborhoods. We created the most effective meritocracy ever.”

“But the problem with the meritocracy,” he continues, is that it “leeches all the empathy out of your society … The second you think that all your good fortune is a product of your virtue, you become highly judgmental, lacking empathy, totally without self-awareness, arrogant, stupid—I mean all the stuff that our ruling class is.”


“Putting smart people in charge of things is fine, but what you really want is wise people,” he tells me, and then quotes something his father used to say: “The beginning of wisdom is to know what an asshole you are.”

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