Ever watch CNBC, previously around around lunch (before he was put on what appears to be a permanent time-out) or, for reasons you cannot explain, past 8PM and wonder what happened to this bespectacled fellow, screeching about the recession being over and "digital dickweeds" and god knows what else and thought, what happened to this guy in childhood, or adolescence, or a previous life that made him the way he is today? It has to have been something horrific, right? You can't just be born like this, can you? It turns out the answers are yes and yes.
In a NYO profile of Kneale, we find out a whole bunch of stuff about DK, including the fact that his father that his father was hit by a car and killed, when Dennis was 14 years-old. The tragedy changed a young Kneale, who became "more outgoing and pugnacious." A bully, basically. A nerdy, nerdy bully. "When [a sudden death] happens, you're like, well, fuck," Kneale says. "There's nothing you can do anymore that's going to even come close to that. It's like, 'Bring it on. What have you got?'" Other things we've learned about DK today:
* His mother always told him, "Don't say something if you can't say it to somebody's face." She probably meant something more along the lines of what most mothers tell their children, i.e. if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all, but Dennis interpreted Mother Kneale's words to mean if you're in front of them, or they can see your lips moving through the tube, fire away.
* DK very much took this bit of wisdom to heart, which I guess would explain the rationale of being proud, decades later, of the fact that he wrote a scathing take-down of his high school's chorus concert with his own by-line. "I wrote the mean review on the record," said Kneale. "Not anonymously."
* He really, really hates people who write anonymously online, because it often creates victims of vicious, masked attacks. Like this girl, who truly was made a victim, and like Dennis Kneale, who is not a victim, but believes people taking issue with the claim the "recession is over" are attacking him.
Mr. Kneale traces his genuine distaste for anonymous online criticism to a cover story he edited at Forbes in the fall of 2007, titled "Hiding Behind the Net." The article, by Victoria Murphy Barret, revolved around the tragic story of a teenage girl who crashes her father's Porsche at high speeds on the highway, crushing her to death. Afterward, a mob of anonymous Web users posted police photographs of the girl's mangled remains on various Internet sites, along with commentary mocking the carnage.
"And Google is allowing that to happen?" said Kneale. "Because, oh, well, that's the blogosphere, they're anonymous. You know what? How dare you? How dare you hurt people like that?"
* He could be even more obnoxious, if he wasn't holding himself back. "I have a high obnoxious quotient. I try and reign it in."
* He's being produced by people who think he's a genius. "After [the night DK called a bunch of bloggers 'digital dickweeds'], Mr. Kneale's producer told him that his outburst was poetry, the best thing he'd done on the show."
* None of this is for publicity. Pay no attention to the fact that most people were unaware DK was doing the nighttime thing until the hernia-inducing meltdown, when in fact he'd been in the slot since April. Mr. Kneale said his beef with anonymous bloggers was not some phony yelp for attention. "This is not an attempt by me to stand out," said Mr. Kneale.
* This gig is still probationary. "Now they've kind of forgotten that it's just a tryout," said Kneale. "Don't tell them. ... It may not last."