Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blogging is stupid (but journalism can be stupid too)

Brad Delong writes something which I think speaks to Kevin's post. After listing four examples of journalistic malpractice he writes:

Jay Rosen might say that all four of these--Beinart, Abramowitz, Harris, and Ricks--believe that they are performing in front of an audience rather than participating in a conversation. They believe that they are engaged in a one-to-many one-way transmission of information and misinformation, rather than a many-to-many conversation. Beinart and company know that what they printed was not what Renehan wrote, but don't see that as a point of vulnerability. Harris knows that there were those of us in the spring of 2005 who were disappointed that Gingrich was of no help on Mexico but elated that Gingrich's vaunted advocacy of poorly-drafted balanced-budget amendments was all show and no substance, but doesn't think it poses a problem for his story of Gingrich Ascendant. Ricks sees Washington Post readers at the end of 2003 as having no right to learn then of his judgments then that Paul Wolfowitz was a dangerous fool and that Raymond Odierno's division was losing the war, and no right to complain later that he misinformed them. And Michael Abramowitz--rolling on the floor in hapless fits of laughter is the only sane response one can have to somebody who writes that "perhaps" the "neoconservative cause" has "not been helped" by the fact that the occupation of Iraq has "not gone as smoothly" as "some have predicted."

Am I wrong in seeing a common thread here? In all four cases there seems, to me at least, to be a particular default assumption: each of the four seems to believe that he can misrepresent stuff in ways he finds convenient because nobody who knows about it--not John Renehan; not Washington Post readers in late 2003; not those who worked for, with, and against Gingrich in early 1995; not those who have even a shadow of a clue about Iraq--will be able to answer him with as big a megaphone as he has.

Even if the vast majority of blogging output is as stupid as mine a valuable watch-dog function is being added to public discourse that wasn't there before.

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