Watching CBS’s livestream of their coverage of President Kennedy’s assassination fifty years ago. It is mesmerizing. The pace is slow, much slower than the most recent big story I can think of, the Boston Marathon bombing. The effect is the same: lots of random information, many leads which don’t turn out, some things which are inaccurate. But instead of Twitter, we have phone calls and reports from correspondents. The news content per hour is the same, I think, but there is zero punditry, in the sense that the CBS anchors are monologing rather than yielding the floor to dueling pundits.

Historical literacy and the pundit class

Obama Assures Americans This Will Not Be Another 1456 Ottoman Siege of Belgrade

The Onion has been on a roll lately. This makes me laugh hysterical historian laughter for about twelve reasons, two of which I can name. First, I love the Byzantines and their enemies, and anytime Mehmed II comes up is a good day. This is awesome.

It is also amazing political-media satire, because, again, when we contemplate going to war the only war anybody seems to remember anything about is World War II, though they only remember the version that says that Hitler could have been stopped. That is perhaps true. But it is pretty completely irrelevant to what the right thing to do in Syria is. Probably there isn’t one. But it would delight me if we could all pick a new red herring historical argument to use in all circumstances.