A Blogger Responds To A Slap In The Face
I like reading Townhall most of the time. Solid columns which are generally both well-written and intelligent. Sadly, there are a few cases which demand a response, and at times a forceful one. This is such an occasion. Kathleen Parker, an ostensibly educated columnist who directs the Buckley School of Public Speaking and Persuasion, wrote a work which, at best, is foolish and wrongly disrespects the most significant evolution of public debate in our lifetimes, and quite possibly displays the desperation of an archaic aristocracy in denial. In a column titled “Lord of the blogs”, Parker unleashes a series of false presumptions and arrogant insults at the Blogging phenomenon. Accordingly, it seems to me fitting that a blogger should respond to those points, and so I present my answer here.
Parker begins by a brief overview of the Internet, then quickly homes on blogging, which she describes as the “insidious enemies of decency, humanity and civility - the angry offspring of narcissism's quickie marriage to instant gratification.”
At that point, I couldn’t help but think of the MSM’s marriage to the Democratic Party, and quick manner in which supposed scandals of public figures are so quickly touted on television and in the mass media. I do not mean just the scurrilous lies thrown out about George W. Bush, but the false allegations in the late 1980s that his father had an affair, and even the disgusting way that the most lurid rumors about Bill Clinton, including many which were far from carrying even a seed of truth, were presented. Parker, however, was not admitting to her own industry’s focus on the seamier side of rumors, but pretending that this was something new, that “Yellow Journalism” somehow began with the Instapundit. Not picking on Glenn, but I suspect a fact- and link-laden site like his is anathema to Ms. Parker. Permit me to doubt your veracity, madam.
Parker then goes on to denounce bloggers as “creepy”, “recently wired squatters”, and to sniff at “power untempered by restraint and accountability.” Parker somehow manages to write this without once considering Rathergate, Mary Mapes, or any of a dozen pathological liars granted prime-time spotlights to throw out allegations without substance, to pursue personal vendettae against anyone of the wrong sort of politics, and to not only display bias in their product, but defend it falsely as objective journalism. Mainstream media demonstrates no sense of responsibility, no duty to the nation or to the rights of the people they attack. And for Parker to blithely dance past the hate-spattered frauds which only came to light because bloggers uncovered them, is beyond the pale. Hypocrisy does not become you, madam.
The money line in the column comes next:
“Say what you will about the so-called mainstream media, but no industry agonizes more about how to improve its product, police its own members and better serve its communities.”
That, put bluntly, is a lie. There is clear evidence of a left-leaning bias in the newspaper and television news industry, and not only has this been well-researched and explained (see “Bias” by Bernard Goldberg), the backlash to it in the public has also been noted (see “South Park Republicans”, by Brian C. Anderson). But Parker does not see the inconvenient; she is too intent on her enemy. She goes on to dismiss most bloggers as people who “babble, buzz and blurt like caffeinated adolescents competing for the Ritalin generation's inevitable senior superlative: Most Obsessive-Compulsive.”
According to Parker, bloggers “are rich in time and toys, but bereft of adult supervision. Spoiled and undisciplined, they have grabbed the mike and seized the stage, a privilege granted not by years in the trenches, but by virtue of a three-pronged plug and the miracle of WiFi.
“They play tag team with hyperlinks ("I'll say you're important if you'll say I'm important) and shriek "Gotcha!" when they catch some weary wage earner in a mistake or oversight. Plenty smart but lacking in wisdom, they possess the power of a forum, but neither the maturity nor humility that years of experience impose.”
Given the behavior at, say, the New York Timesor the Washington Post, I would say a certain parable about ocular lumber needs mention, but I suspect the lesson would be lost on Ms. Parker. She’s here to show us our place, not mess about with facts and truth, you know.
Parker excuses the outright crimes of her professional colleagues by chirping that “[w]hen someone trips, whether Dan Rather or Eason Jordan or Judith Miller, bloggers are the bloodthirsty masses slavering for a public flogging. Incivility is their weapon and humanity their victim.”
Fraud is a felony in the conditions employed by Mr. Rather. And attempting to subvert a federal election as Rather tried, or to falsely indict an innocent man as Ms. Miller appears to have hoped to do, are criminal acts. Excusing such conduct hardly impresses to the public or a discerning mind a desire for accountability or professional standards in your profession, Ms. Parker.
Ms. Parker’s solution to bloggers?
“We can't silence them, but for civilization's sake - and the integrity of information by which we all live or die - we can and should ignore them.”
And the Mainstream Media wonders why they are still losing viewers and readers…
For the record, Ms. Parker: I am forty-five years old, married and a professional in my own field, with decades of experience. I am neither rich, nor do I have an abundance of “toys” or time, but I blog to serve the responsibility to answer aristocrats like yourself, the sort who wrongly think the common man is unable to understand or analyze the complex matters of state, economy, and culture. I am, in a manner, one of those people who has to clean up after the likes of you, presenting facts in place of your lies, the actual history in place of your fables, and an alternative analysis in place of your diatribes. Accountability is instantaneous; my readers will not let me slide on a falsehood, because unlike the MSM, I allow comments and a debate begins immediately upon publication. I give credit to sources and link to them, so that readers can check the facts for themselves, and they do.
You, to be blunt, represent a useless past. The mainstream press can be of great value, but not as long as you continue to lie about standards you rejected long ago because they were inconvenient, and as long as you ignore the public demand for responsible journalism.
Blogging exists for a variety of reasons, but it would not have an audience for commentary and analysis, except that your cadre of politically correct partisans drives people with common sense to seek alternatives and balance. Bloggers do not hate journalists in either the individual or collective sense, but we take on a code of honor which is sadly lacking in your numbers, and when we see a Rather or a Miller act in such an unconscionable way as they have, we present the facts and challenge falsity. Rather and Miller and Jordan received nothing which did not come from their own bad judgment and rash arrogance; indeed their positions have wrongly protected them from a fully just consequence. Rather, as an example, was neither arrested nor censured for his acts, but retired with a large pension and his pride unpricked. That is simply wrong madam, and you know it, or if you remembered your J-school standard, you would.
I am a blogger, and I am very good at what I do. Unlike you, however, I neither pretend to be better than other people, nor do I refuse to look hard into the mirror. And there are many like me. We are the future of journalism, not to replace the people who gather and report the news, but to drive them back to the ideals which used to matter; honesty, integrity, balance.
You know what I find “creepy”? That someone like you would be teaching future journalists. Watch and see, madam. Blogging is neither going away, nor is it ignored. Within ten years, you will start to see major journalism schools take it up as a necessary skill. Within five you will see a blog report segment on the major news networks, at least the ones which can keep their viewers. It’s simple really, just supply and demand – as long as you refuse to supply real news, people will demand it from us.