The Editorials of E. Desiderius

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Wasteland: Blogs and the Old Media

I’ve been wanting to write this column for a long time. Originally entitled “The Problem With DailyKos and AmericaBlog,” the words simply never came out, and I ended up with writers block, and a few keystrokes closer to carpel tunnel. I was stuck, and the anecdotal evidence simply wasn’t there to build a compelling case.

Under the same pen name, I’ve reprinted a number of articles on DailyKos, most of them met with troll ratings, cake recipes, pictures of dead Iraqi children, or snide remarks about smearing “our side,” the valiant, do-no-wrong fighting Democrats. In the little Kos Universe, Republicans are not referred to as the Republican Party, or Republicans, but rather “Repugs,” and they can do no right. The only prevailing criticism of the Democratic Party’s positions on anything is that they are not articulate and forceful enough and really the only policy prescription offered is that if the Democrats swung radically left on a populist platform they would control every branch of government.

Right wing blogs are by no means better. In my superficial browsing of the conservative blogosphere, I have come across some variation of the phase “skin him/her alive” or “flay him/her alive” several times to describe what the author wished upon an ideological opponent, usually derided as a “liberal” or some other kind of sissy. These blogs have the great distinction of simplifying ever issue down to its Manichean Fox News talking points that divide the world into two camps: for or against, US vs. everyone else.

Nuance and subtly is what right-wing bloggers lack, in addition to their irritating habit of circumventing any intellectual or legal argument with a shameless appeal to fear and emotion, that will including 9/11, terrorists, and the victims of these attacks. Meanwhile, left-wing bloggers are smug and self-righteous, genuinely refusing to tolerate differing ideas.

The blogosphere is truly a wasteland. DailyKos and the rest, instead of providing a forum for ideas and discussion, are a pack of ideological wolves. Jonathan Chait’s New Republic musings [1] on the fate of Joe Lieberman earned the New Republic the name Lieberman Weekly. And right-wing blogs are a pack of robotic simpletons, holding up a bloody shirt at the first sign of intellectual disagreement.

Let no blog ever replace good advocacy journalism like the New Republic, the Atlantic, the Nation, or hell, the Weekly Standard. There is a journalistic ethos that runs deep through these magazines: an openness of mind, and a willingness to step up and debate ideas above the fray of talking points and dualisms. There is an inquisitive spirit in journalism that bloggers simply cannot conceive, understand or express and there is a willingness to admit wrongs, admit hypocrisies and avoid partisan cheerleading. The blogosphere has yet to develop any of those qualities, and instead has become a global soapbox preaching to separate choirs; a place where people reinforce their preconceived political notions, and self-righteously gather to scorn those who disagree. Blogs have lowered the level and substance of political debate in this country instead of augmenting it, exploiting the imaginary divide between “red states” and “blue states,” and the actualy policy divides between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.

Bloggers do not editorialize. They vandalize. It’s time they recognized the difference.

[1] The New Republic – Why The Left Should Rethink Its Campaign To Oust Joe Lieberman

Posted by George Gordon | Tuesday, May 09, 2006 | E-mail this post

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