Our politics is full of performative outrage, histrionics that are designed to imbue unserious people with an air moral seriousness and to keep the rubes emotionally invested long enough to get them to a commercial break. It almost inevitably is the case that people have the strongest feelings about the things they know the least about; people who actually know about any subject of genuine interest understand that such subjects tend to be complicated, and that expressions of outrage, however cathartic, do not render them any less recondite. Compare Paul Krugman on economics to Paul Krugman on politics and you’ll see what I mean.

I would suggest that we make a concerted effort to abolish cheap outrage from our political discourse, but that proposal would be stillborn: There’s just too much money in outrage. Instead, I would suggest taking a different attitude toward those histrionics, understanding that what people such as Sean Hannity and Chris Hayes are engaged in is not really political discourse at all, but something much more like sports commentary or The Real Housewives of Wherever: The emotional frisson is the point, and the political content is just a McGuffin, the ball in this cynical game of for-profit fetch.