Saturday, March 19, 2005

Selective Memory

Tamara Baker's article in today's Star Tribune was sort of interesting but incomplete. Her article is a long complaint about how a Star Tribune article by Eric Black (link here, but it will soon be in the paid archive) didn't have enough liberal politics in it. I have a few comments and criticisms, of course. Let's start with her first complaint:
For one thing, it focused on the local Republican bloggers, but didn't name any of the liberal blogs like DailyKos and Eschaton, which have been around a lot longer and which still, despite their not getting as much mainstream-press publicity as the righties, get more readers than the righties. It was Eschaton's readership that, after nearly two weeks of constant effort, finally forced the mainstream press to fully cover Trent Lott's shocking remarks praising Strom Thurmond's racist history -- remarks that the press at first ignored, even though barely two months earlier that same press quickly condemned, loudly and for weeks afterwards, the comparatively mild comments made by Rick Kahn in 2002 at the Wellstone memorial.

She has a point that Black didn't specifically name any liberal blogs. He did, however, briefly mention the role of liberal bloggers in the Trent Lott affair. She singles out lefty blogs the Daily Kos and Eschaton for mention claiming that they are older, better read blogs. A few things to note. Power Line is actually older than the Daily Kos (by one day) and Little Green Footballs (the other "conservative" blog she mentions) dates back to February 2001, so her chronology is a bit off. Also for the record the condemnation of Trent Lott was bipartisan, including criticism from Power Line. Her characterization of the press condemning the "comparatively mild comments" at the Wellstone memorial is a little off. The press reported on the people whom the memorial offended condemning it. Remember, this was a televised service turned into a political rally/ambush on the non-DFLers who were there, which offended much of Minnesota in real time.

Her next complaint is about the site
Little Green Footballs, about which she says this:
Black's article also didn't mention "Little Green Footballs," a right-wing blog whose founder, Charles Johnson, claims that he and not John Hinderaker's PowerLineBlog was the first to lead the charge against Dan Rather last fall. While PowerLine tries to sound calmly professional, the Little Green Footballs blog is much more vicious in its conservatism. Its posters and readers are known for things such as cheering the death of peace activist Rachel Corrie and making bigoted comments about female Muslim tsunami victims.

Rather than calling her a liar, I'll link to Charles Johnson's response, which disputes her version of the story. I would note that LGF posts are links to and commentary about media reports about goings on in the Arab world that show an Arab/Muslim point of view that the Strib is uninterested in sharing with us. As the comments are mostly unmoderated some of the comments are pretty nasty, but for the most part the commenters are not bigoted racists. The comment sections are no more nasty than those of Markos "Screw Them" Zuniga (proprietor of the DailyKos) and Atrios, the blogs she praises, where our current president is ranked with Hitler, unfavorably compared with chimps, and where conservative and Republicans are vilified on a daily basis.

Then we get to the real thesis of her article:

The big thing left out, though Black hinted at it with his mention of right-wing blogs hounding the Star Tribune, is that the right and left halves of the blogging world have very different goals.

As Garance Franke-Ruta noted in a recent American Prospect, "The targets of the liberal blogosphere are conservative activists; the target of the conservative blogosphere is the free and independent press itself, just as it has been for conservative activists since the '60s."

David Brock, a former conservative activist who now runs a media-watchdog group called Media Matters for America, agrees with Franke-Ruta that Republicans' ultimate aim is the destruction of all objective reporting, so that they can say whatever they want, true or not, and get away with it: "Their explicit goal is to get us to the point where there are blue [state] facts and red [state] facts."

In other words, Republicans for decades have wanted to control the press much as Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler did, by attacking and attempting to discredit independent journalism, and for them blogs are just the latest tool in their war. That's definitely newsworthy, but outside of the blogosphere, few publications will dare state this.

What does Baker use to support this ludicrous charge? The Franke-Ruta article from The American Prospect (not a known bastion of non-partisanship) and quoting an unsupported opinion from David Brock, a self-admitted liar who works for an organization funded by that famous non-partisan George Soros. Here's a reaction to the Franke-Ruta article that lays out some of the ways she misrepresented some the people she profiles in it, from one of the subjects in it. Then she finishes with another stupid, vile, Republicans=Hitler=Stalin comparison (Why do lefties feel compelled to do this? I guess when reason isn't on your side, name calling is all that's left. -ed). Somehow I just can't take Baker's charge seriously for some reason. I guess she's just another member of the paisley helicopter contingent of the left.

Update: Here is Power Line's view of the Baker piece. I think they were unimpressed.

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