Saturday, January 21, 2006

Why make the liberal blogosphere the enemy?

There have been some strangely self-pitying or self-defensive actions recently on the part of those who feel that they are being "attacked" by the "liberal blogosphere." I'll give an example:

A few days ago, the Washington Post's ombudsman, a woman named Deborah Howell, declared that she would "not respond" to critics who had pointed out that she had incorrectly stated that Jack Abramoff donated money to Democrats, and the Washington Post, in a very disconcerting move, shut down their website's comment board. In fact, Abramoff had done no such thing, and he had not even directed (a vague word) money to Democrats as Editor of the Washington Post James Brady said. (Basically, it seems that the Washington Post must want the scandal of Jack Abramoff's illegal and decadent donations to Republicans to be a bipartisan scandal. But it isn't. Remember Enron? Remember how people were trying to say that donations were made to both parties? Who was playing golf with Ken Lay, though? Which administration secretely invited oil execs into their energy policy meetings? Clearly, the scandal is, in the case of Enron, the energy policy meetings, and Abramoff, that Republicans are making policy for rich, corporate interests. As someone said this past week, the Abramoff scandal is just a tip of the iceberg of the very successful Republican drive to own K Street).

So anyway, James Brady, the Post editor, did an interview with the nationally syndicated right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt. Hewitt of course has his own opinions about people who politically disagree with him, and in typical right-wing fashion tries to find an "epicenter" of the "effort" to point out Howell's mistakes and get a correction from the Washington Post. (Brady points to the Daily Kos, even though, as Armando at Daily Kos explains, their website didn't feature the Deborah Howell story until once the comment board at the Post had been shut down). What Hugh Hewitt and James Brady cannot comprehend is the idea of normal American citizens taking an interest in media reporting and logging on to blogs--also run by normal American citizens--who are discussing the same thing. The right-wing, so driven by an astroturf, top-down mentality cannot conceive that ordinary citizens would independently take an interest in issues of media reporting, etc, and come together to vent about it on blogs. This is democracy, guys. Some of us still believe in it. So used to his party's brownshirt tactics, Hugh Hewitt is too busy making enemies of the so-called "liberal blogosphere" to even understand what it is.

What I don't understand is why James Brady feels he must give a self-pitying interview with Hugh Hewitt merely because many people spoke up on his website and asked for a correction. He talks about "name calling," but he is merely lobbing a vague accusation so long as he hasn't engaged with the actual critiques from the people making comments. The Washington Post has been called names my members of the right-wing for years, and I haven't seen any hand-wringing over that. So some people take an interest in the accuracy of how an important story is reported, and suddenly these people are the enemy? Isn't an ombudsman supposed to be the liason between a newspapers' readers and its reporters? Isn't a newspaper supposed to correct inaccurate reporting? It seems that by pointing fingers at the liberal blogosphere, James Brady and Deborah Howell are exempting themselves of their journalistic duty.

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