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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, August 20, 2007



posted by Aziz P. at Monday, August 20, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
The strange contradiction of the mass media is that it combines true journalism - the nuts and bolts, reporters on the street, old school journalism trade - with talking heads up their own asses who write "opinion". Frankly the blogsphere obsoletes the latter. I am not one of those blog triumphalists who think the blogsphere can replace the former, but there certainly are good examples of blogs who make the attempt; on the right, Patterico comes to mind, whereas on the left, Josh Marshall's TPM. Both are examples of blogs that do honest and genuine reporting.

Which is why the punditocracy is so threatened. Michael Skube of the LA Times today tries to argue that the blogsphere is a ranting mob as usual. But note anything odd in his examples?

The blogosphere is the loudest corner of the Internet, noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined.

And to think most bloggers are doing all this on the side. "No man but a blockhead," the stubbornly sensible Samuel Johnson said, "ever wrote but for money." Yet here are people, whole brigades of them, happy to write for free. And not just write. Many of the most active bloggers — Andrew Sullivan, Matthew Yglesias, Joshua Micah Marshall and the contributors to the Huffington Post — are insistent partisans in political debate.

Kevin Drum notes of the above,

of these four examples, the first three are all professional writers and the fourth is a venture-funded site with a paid staff. If you're going to extol "thorough fact-checking and verification" over the blogosphere's "potpourri of opinion," you really ought to fact-check your assertions first.

And what's more, Josh Marshall emailed Skube directly about being lumped in. Guess what?

Not long after I wrote I got a reply: "I didn't put your name into the piece and haven't spent any time on your site. So to that extent I'm happy to give you benefit of the doubt ..."

This seemed more than a little odd since, as I said, he certainly does use me as an example -- along with Sullivan, Matt Yglesias and Kos. So I followed up noting my surprise that he didn't seem to remember what he'd written in his own opinion column on the very day it appeared and that in any case it cut against his credibility somewhat that he wrote about sites he admits he'd never read.

To which I got this response: "I said I did not refer to you in the original. Your name was inserted late by an editor who perhaps thought I needed to cite more examples..."

So Skube writes an opinion piece in the LA Times about how bloggers are just a pack of partisan hounds who do no real journalism, and roam free unfettered by the bounds of editorial control. The same editorial review which inserted blogs Skube admits to never having read for "more examples" to support his thesis? The ironies abound.



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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.