Playing Guitar While Rome Is Burning
... many establishment journalists have raging contempt for the blogosphere. It is a contempt grounded in the fallacy of credentialism and a pseudo-elitist belief that only the approved and admitted members of their little elite journalist club can be trusted to enlighten the masses. Many of them see blogs as a distasteful and anarchic sewer, where uncredentialed and irresponsible people who are totally unqualified to articulate opinions are running around spewing all sorts of uninformed trash. And these journalistic gate-keepers become especially angry when blogospheric criticism is directed towards other establishment journalists, who previously were immune from any real public accountability.
Those are the words of Glenn Greenwald who drives his point home by focusing on "The Plank" -- the official blog of The New Republic, where the on-the-inside journalists of TNR often slap their fellow journalists on the ass in a self-felating orgy just as often as they slime and castigate the blogosphere. Interestingly enough, by taking them on, Glenn earned a rebuttal by none other than Ezra Klein:
Glenn Greenwald, whose stuff is often excellent, has unleashed a breathtakingly misguided attack at The New Republic today. As one would expect, it's getting many a link, and those who long ago decided The New Republic a festering tumor attached to our body politic are excitedly congratulating Glenn for his bit of amateur surgery. But while the operation is technically impressive (no one disputes Greenwald's ability to turn a phrase), we're dealing with some serious malpractice here ...
Hoooboy, looks like a wrastlin' match and Klein immediately rolls Glenn up in a School-Boy:
Here's a media critic's first lesson: "many" is a warning flag, a dodge, the most obvious and troubling sign of a trend piece. Many is not a percentage and it's not a list of names, it's an assumption masked as a measurement. And the next step for "many" is to become one: a singular (or single digit) example touted as an oft-replicated template.
Unfortunately, Ezra made the mistake of prancing around like Adorable Adrian Adonis as if the quick win spoke volumes, forgetting all about the one important stipulation in the Blogosphere Wrestling Federation: all contests are Lumberjack Ironman matches ... and Glenn brought some hefty lumberjacks with him (who is that under the ring?!?).
OK, my pathetic Jim Ross impression aside, I like both of these guys and have posted no wager in what is more or less a match between two bird dogs sniffing each others assholes sizing each other up. However, I believe Glenn came out on top and not because he's an underdog to "Big Media" Klein. He brings a much more compelling argument to the table.
Perhaps my favorite part of this utterly inane attack is the commenter who opines, "Schmidt's getting paid like Armstrong Williams got paid." How does somone (sic) so stupid manage to operate a computer?
His quoting of TNR's Michael Crowley right there reminds me of someone else:
"Tim Robbins, who thinks he can say any thing at any time . . . I have a question: How is it that Tim Robbins is still walking free? How in the world is this guy still able to go to the National Press Club and say whatever he wants to say?
And it's leaving me wonder did Crowley channel Rush Limbaugh, his bottles of Oxy, or both?!? Seriously, where in the hell would the pontificating journalists within their established ivory towers looking down their beaks to the plebian masses be without Rush Limbaugh to channel every single time one of us here in the "Johnny-Come-Lately" blogsphere has the blasphemous termity to rattle their nosechains? The way I see it is journalists within the establishment such as Zengerle and Crowley who continually spurn the blogsphere with their pompous contempt do nothing more than tell us a hell of lot more about themselves than the bloggers they're smearing and, as a result, TNR's subscription rolls are a pale shadow of what they used to be simply because bloggers are nothing more than disenfrancised readers whom got sick and tired of their intelligence being insulted by the ass-slapping has-beens within the establishment.
Even Lex gets it:
I've been a newspaper journalist for 22 years, Ezra, and I'm with Glenn: Our industry has worried far too much about credentials and not enough about the goods.
Exactly, and it's not the only industry that does that. Everything I know about computer hardware and software has been self-taught using a liberal concoction of RTFMing and old fashioned trial and error. No degrees, no certificates, nothing. I could pass them with flying colors but what's the point considering they're expensive as hell and that no customer is going to look at them on my wall and ask me where did I learn everything I know about computers anymoreso than they ask the telephone/cable technician for their credentials on how to crimp a fucking wire.
Now, worrying about credentials in other fields is certainly appropriate; indeed, the administration's outright hostility toward those with credentials is a big part of why we're in the mess we're in. But journalism isn't public health or intelligence analysis or (need it even be said?) rocket science. Anyone who's reasonably logical and analytical, and a good writer, can function reasonably well as a journalist.
The only thing Lex forgot to mention was a brain -- nature's best bullshit detector. Everybody has them but, unfortunately, most men don't have enough blood to operate it half the time. Atrios hit that one on the head by lambasting the establishment for paving the way for disenfranchised media consumers to get fed up and use their computers for things other than leeching porn, collecting spam, and hardening their arteries to a 18-hour marathon World of Warcraft session (pssst ... hey -- if your heart stops, you lose!) by the establishment flocking like geese to former thinktank-shills-turned-syndicated-firebrands whom sincerely believe that Jesus really did call them to be journalists through the Chick Tract they nearly wiped their asses with instead of nurturing and cultivating the in-house talent.
In the end, the established journalists who get enraged at the Blogosphere for deconstructing their lies, causing them to trip up during their kabuki dancing show me nothing that I haven't seen allready when I end up pissing off the Best Buy/Geek Squad register bisquit out of his commission trying to bullshit ignorant consumers into an extra 512MB stick of RAM for their Dual Layer DVD burner to run properly on a Pentium4/AthlonXP system with 1GB of RAM pre-installed. Same shit, just different piles. The difference is while one Best Buy/Geek Squad asshat successfully had security show me the door for daring to set his monkey ass straight, the same can't be said about the anti-blogger established journalists for the blogosphere itself is policed by the very "hardcore meritocracy" Greenwald smacked them with.