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Pundit Fight Blog


A collection of my favourite essays and columns from the PunditFight blog



Hillary Clinton - Monster Heel

Hillary is a special type of Heel, a 'Monster Heel'. In wrestling, a Monster Heel is an unstoppable juggernaut who squashes opponents and is open to using dirty tactics. They will be portrayed as unfeeling brutes, often adopting characteristics from classic movie monsters. Their appeal is generated not by charisma but rather their sheer dominance.
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The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee

... Another thing Mike Huckabee had to work on was his gimmick. Mike is an affable person, a noted public speaker with considerable charisma. An ordained Southern Baptist minister and musician. All the ingredients for a likeable personality but not the name ID or corporate/media backing to get him noticed.

Huckabee had to tweak his gimmick, he played to his strength as a "hipper alternative" by getting endorsements from ironically cool celebrities like Action Star Chuck Norris and wrestling great Ric Flair. Mike appeared in a series of ads with Chuck Norris which gave him great exposure outside of political news and was a successful viral campaign online...
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The Independent Bill O'Reilly

Bill as a champion for traditionalist values, is convincing on his own show under his own terms. However like a wrestler appearing outside their natural element Bill O'Reilly's persona of an embittered crusader seems cartoonish especially next to lightweight hosts such as Letterman, Lauer and the Girls from 'The View'. Its no wonder that in this context skeptical people are more likely to press O'Reilly on his independence.

O'Reilly defensiveness on the independence issue is similar to a wrestler's reaction when asked if wrestling is real. I think Bill feels that if he admits that he is more right leaning, people might view him as an idealogue and no longer see him as a bipartisan critic. He also fears it would discount his progressive positions on capital punishment, gun control, gay marriage, marijuana and the environment.


William 'Bill' Kristol - Top heel:

An important archetype in wrestling is the 'heel'. They are the villains who relish being despised and take great pleasure in aggravating their detractors. When I last spoke about Heels, I cited Ann Coulter as the top Heel in the Pundit business. Whilst Ann is an obvious choice for this title because of her bombast, there is one villain who is slowly garnering the reputation of 'pundit you love to hate'. He is Bill Kristol.



Aura: How pundits and politicians preserve their image

One of the key components of wrestling is 'Aura'. A wrestler's value hinges on gaining and preserving Aura. Aura is earned through the caliber of competition the wrestler defeats. One quick way to earn aura is to purposely challenge and vanquish weaker opponents, known as "jobbers"...

In punditry, Aura also plays a big part. The pundit must always seem to be in control and more knowledgeable than their audience. That is after all why we listen to them. Callers are quick to challenge pundits if they are being disingenuous or purposely misleading. Pundits can manage this by screening their calls and only allowing those who agree and reinforce their viewpoint. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are known for this. Pundits like Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved and Sam Seder support a format where they specifically invite callers of different viewpoints. Al Franken has a more novel approach, he doesn't accept callers. But sometimes callers will slip through the cracks.
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Shoot Fights: When pundits get personal

In wrestling, a 'shoot' is when one of the combatants overrides the agreed script and does something unexpected by injecting real emotion. This may involve actually hitting (physically connecting with) other wrestlers or using very personal verbal attacks. In essence making a fake wrestling scenario or feud into a real one. Shoots aren't necessarily a bad thing as the heightened realism makes for compelling viewing and is sure to garner an audience.

In punditry, shoot fights can come in the form of pundits ambushing their unsuspecting guests by injecting their own personal feelings (usually contempt) in interviews. Essentially turning a professional disagreement into a personal one. A certain level of decorum is expected during interviews even from those with opposing ideological perspectives. Largely because the interviewer may want the interviewee to return for future appearances, a reputation as a hostile interviewer may also dissuade any other potential guests.