2005/07/20

Comment on USAToday article

Bloggers, on your mark
Right-wing Internet bloggers dogged Dan Rather in "Memogate" so effectively that it might have cost him his anchor chair at CBS News.

Left-wing bloggers discredited Ed Klein's book, The Truth About Hillary, so fiercely that even Clinton haters called the book a hatchet job.

There are plenty of other examples of how bloggers on both sides of the political aisle, when aroused, have sunk their teeth into an issue or person in the news.

This set of passages brings into focus the Fox News slogan "Fair and Balanced". My question is "Is it always possible to do both? Are there times when you have to choose?" To me, being fair means you follow the evidence where it leads. You examine the facts and then draw your conclusions. Being balanced means you make each side appear equally culpable/innocent, foolish/wise or oblivious/aware. How do the two definitions work in this case?

Vladimir Putin was under the impression that Dan Rather had been fired because he dared to criticize President Bush. So sure, we'll give the right-wing bloggers "Memogate" because for all intents and purposes, they did indeed "bring down" Rather.

Was The Truth About Hillary discredited? Certainly in my view it was. How about the general public? As of 20Jul05, Amazon.com is offering the book as both a hardcover and as an audio CD and it's rated at #66, several notches above the Secret Man, Woodward & Bernstein's book on "Deep Throat" and well below Jon Stewart's America, so I'd have a difficult time saying that the book was "brought down" or "discredited".

Did "Clinton haters" draw their conclusion based on what lefty bloggers had to say about it? I can't imagine them "bowing to" or even deeply considering what lefty bloggers say about anything. Obviously, they take some of their cues from the larger right wing and as we know, Bush thinks so little of the left wing's opinion of anything that he consistently argues against "straw men" whenever he makes a major speech. His latest arguments in favor of the long-discredited "Flypaper" theory concerning Iraq and the military resistance and foreign terrorists illustrates this.

If we look at the Klein book from a right-winger's perspective, it's not at all difficult to see why they oppose it. Klein's book is described by Amazon in the included Publisher's Weekly review as a stale, boring rehash of old news and discredited lies that:

While glossing over such provocative-and substantive-Clinton issues as Whitewater, Travel-gate and Vince Foster's suicide, [Klein] concentrates nearly half of his 250 pages on-you guessed it-Monica Lewinsky.

Klein is said to make an unconvincing case that Hillary "played" the wronged wife or that there was anything deliberate or planned about her reaction to her husband's stupid behavior.

Obviously, if opponents can point to serious credibility problems in a book, the whole book and its' thesis is then much easier to ignore than if one makes an airtight case that doesn't include any obvious problems.

Sorry, but the idea that the right wing is willing to knock Klein only because lefty bloggers are "fiercely" attacking him is just plain silly.

The following quote also struck me for it's sheer idiocy:

"No fact checkers, no editors, no professional rules of the road will make the nominee a high-profile blogger catch — unless they were a hermit for their careers, which is highly unlikely or they would not even make the short list."

Excuse me, but the only way that critics, online or otherwise, can make any progress against ANY political figure is if the facts are on their side. Opposition research is much easier these days due to bloggers and search engines and people sharing information and resources, but simply being loud or numerous doesn't make a political case. Very recently, right-wingers got all excitable about the "revelation" that there were some contacts between Saddam Hussein's people and al Qaeda back in the late '90s (Powerline "That was then, this is now" July 15th) and as people like myself were aware of these contacts since at least late 2002, the "issue" very quickly died out. There was nothing about people being bloggers that permitted the issue to stay current or serious for any longer than it did.

BTW, the current theory among left-wing bloggers on the Supreme Court pick is that if there is any sort of problem with the choice of John Roberts, then Democrat Senators should pick one issue and focus on that. If it's reproductive choice, let's go all-out on that, if it's privacy, let's go all-out on that. The LAST thing we need to do is a mish-mashed grab-bag of miscellaneous issues. Democrats need to use the hearings to draw a clear distinction between them and the opposition. They need to answer the questions of "Why should we vote for you? What difference will it make for us to get you guys into office?"

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