Welcome to Metaworld

Source: Images from two dueling opinion articles on a rise in violent crime in the US – both f

Want to continue reading this and the other 1,500+ essays you won't find anywhere else?

Already a subscriber? log in here

To learn more about Epsilon Theory and be notified when we release new content sign up here. You’ll receive an email every week and your information will never be shared with anyone else.


  1. CNN employs two people as so-called media critics. Their job, as best I can tell, is to watch Fox News and then report back what the people over there are saying. It’s an odd business model (and based on how their ratings have been going down it seems not to be a great one). But someone at CNN thought that their viewers would really enjoying hearing what the other guys are talking about but they would also need to keep their hands clean while doing it. See, you could always just watch another station, but what if that other station was full of crazies and weirdos and it’s just too icky for you? Enter the media critic. You get all the information (that they want you to have) without being one of those unwashed viewers of Bad Cable News Channel X. And it works for everyone! Want to hear some disingenuous thing Jake Tapper said? Well there’s definitely like three different right wing podcasts that will tell you about it. Did Tucker Carlson really say that about vaccines? Worry not, Brian Stelter will do a whole segment on it tonight. In a world where access to information has never been easier or cheaper we have built an ecosystem that ensures we are always watching the crowd watching the crowd. The internet revolution didn’t cut out the middle man, it gave us a seemingly inexhaustible supply of middle men. And we absolutely asked for it.

  2. Where does commentary from increasingly popular (? - I don’t think it’s an illusion) “independent media analysts” fit into this equation - like the people writing on substack as free agents who used to work for news organizations.

    It is possible to argue that ET is in this category sometimes as well - not necessarily in service of political narratives - but in analyzing the presentation of news.

    For instance, where would this post be in your narrative map?

    I wonder if there are two types of meta-commentary: (1) the kind that you’re highlighting: articles attacking or supporting other narratives by social, media, and political actors, and (2) the kind of meta-commentary on this platform: where we learn to examine how the information we consume is packaged and shoehorned into larger ideas and narratives.

    What is curious to me is that I would think that the increasing popularity of free agents would make the map more diffuse, or is this an indication that this is not occurring? Or is this contributing to the glut of metacommentary?

  3. I am almost surprised to learn that there is any simple reportage of facts anymore. Both sides know that the issue of crime broadly is an important one for their campaigns. One side gained mightily from the perception of police brutality last year and the other is attempting to exploit the mayhem that ensued and the various issues around that. When the Rothschild’s pigeon’s were carrying the news of Waterloo, no one had access to any facts. Now the sky is thick with them but no one can tell which are real.

  4. Hey, Eric! Really good thoughts and questions!

    I think if you write about narrative, you’re always going to live in the meta. It’s unavoidable. I’d like to think we don’t have an ideological axe to grind, but of course we do. I think it just happens to not be on the most dangerous and divisive axis socially, but that’s my story, not a fact. I’d like to give our genre of media criticism a separate category as you do, but I’m not sure it’s always as distinct a thing as we’d like.

    As for Substack journalism, I think it’s mostly supplanting similar volume coming out of larger publishers (especially the volume of a person who leaves such an outlet to set up their own direct content feed). That would make it more of a fragmentation than a shift, and I wouldn’t expect that to have a material effect on the mix or nature of the meta’s influence on coverage more broadly. That’s mostly assumption work on my part, though. I don’t know if my priors about how free agents supplant mainstream content are correct.

  5. No doubt. FWIW, I think @bhunt watches the shows-about-the-show networks promote when he watches The Bachelor, etc., so while we are all to blame, he may be slightly more to blame.

  6. Even more worrying - I’m not sure if we care!

  7. This is spot on and going on in the the micro level as well as the macro media level. When anyone talks current events 1v1, almost all of what they’re remarking on is the coverage of the event in question. Very little gets discussed about the actual fact pattern.

  8. Could this emergence of a central meta-cluster dominated by *discussions of discussions" possibly reflect that most newspapers (media) have moved online and most news articles now allow readers to “comment”?

  9. From a technical perspective, not explicitly, in that the text we’re analyzing doesn’t include those comment sections.

    But I think it’s certainly the case that writing to induce comments and social media sharing is a big part of ALL content production, including that of hard news, so in a way it is absolutely a part of why this sits at the center.

  10. When the primary job of news media became to shape opinion rather than report news , I guess this was inevitable.

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum

18 more replies


Avatar for rguinn Avatar for chudson Avatar for Landvermesser Avatar for m2smith Avatar for Zenzei Avatar for O.P.A Avatar for lpusateri Avatar for Desperate_Yuppie Avatar for kmalibyte Avatar for Wesley_Whitehead Avatar for rwgood Avatar for plagueofcustom Avatar for Cassandra

The Latest From Epsilon Theory


This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the market with certainty or guarantee future investment performance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Statements in this communication are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and other views expressed herein are as of the date of this publication. Actual future results or occurrences may differ significantly from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, and there is no guarantee that any predictions will come to pass. The views expressed herein are subject to change at any time, due to numerous market and other factors. Epsilon Theory disclaims any obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or views expressed herein. This information is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. This commentary has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. Epsilon Theory recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.