Ed Driscoll

Muggeridge's Law Meets the Two-Minute Hate

Back at the start of the site in 2002, I mentioned Muggeridge’s Law, paraphrasing a passage in Tom Wolfe’s mid-’70s anthology of The New Journalism:

When Malcolm Muggeridge was the editor of the British satirical magazine Punch in the early 1960s, Khrushchev had announced he was going to tour England alongside its prime minister. Muggeridge wrote up a list of the silliest tour stops he could think of, and then put the article to bed, ready for publication. When the actual tour list was drawn up, he had to massively rewrite the article. At least half the tour stops in his satirical piece were actually on Khrushchev and the British PM’s agenda!

Which is why Muggeridge’s Law is: there is no way that a writer of fiction can compete with real life for its pure absurdity.

In a way, US Weekly and Time magazine being duped by a satiric Website on Sarah Palin supposedly attacking Christina Aguilera and her botched rendition of the national anthem at the Super Bowl is a corollary of Muggeridge’s Law. Once a politician or celebrity has been sufficiently demonized by old media, there is no satire crazy enough that some of them won’t believe that it’s true if it proves their existing prejudices.

Or as the subject of old media’s Two Minute Hate (now entering its third year) responds:

“Subject: Great job, MSM!

Jay – pls tell your bosses there at Time Magazine thank you for the invitations to attend the upcoming functions. I’ll sure put a lot of thought into those invitations.
Then, have your editors retract Time’s most recent ridiculous lies about me supposedly giving Sean Hannity a radio interview wherein I supposedly talked about Christina Aguilera (that I slammed her for her Nat’l Anthem mistake, and called for her deportation, etc).

You guys were fooled into running a fake story that even US Weekly pulled and apologized for their blunder. Total lies – and you guys (once again) even put quotation marks around things I have never uttered. Then, Time needs to run an apology to Christina along with the retraction. (Add Hannity in your apology, too…those good folks don’t deserve to be in a caustic, untrue story about me.) Thanks much – keep up the great work, Time Magazine.”

And as virtually every consumer of the legacy media knows, the biases of the MSM have caused them to blow innumerable stories over the years because they want to believe. Australian journalist Piers Akerman catalogs a decade’s worth of them, in a piece titled, “Out of Left field come slurs and innuendos.”

Related: Power Line’s John Hinderaker quips, “Newsweek recently sold for a dollar. At the rate Time is going, Newsweek may soon be eyeing it as a takeover target.”