Monday, December 22, 2008

A Blogging Fool's Paradise

Earlier in the year, Matthew Yglesias left the Atlantic Monthly blogpen, settling under the wing of the progressive (I always want to write "self-styled" in front of that word; where does it leave the rest of us?) Center for American Progress Action Fund. If you click here, never again will you see such a group of highly qualified and earnest-looking young people.

At about 10:30 last night, a Fund official posted this on Yglesias's blog:
This is Jennifer Palmieri, acting CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Most readers know that the views expressed on Matt’s blog are his own and don’t always reflect the views of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Such is the case with regard to Matt’s comments about Third Way. Our institution has partnered with Third Way on a number of important projects - including a homeland security transition project - and have a great deal of respect for their critical thinking and excellent work product. They are key leaders in the progressive movement and we look forward to working with them in the future.

That's because on Dec. 19, Yglesias had written:

[Third Way's] domestic policy agenda is hyper-timid incrementalist [BS].

The brass at Third Way, another think tank, must've asked their friends at CAPAF why they were being trashed on a Center web site. After Palmieri's post, over 500 comments on Yglesias's site ensued, but none as ironic as when Sullivan, back at Yglesias' old hang at the Atlantic, said today that Palmieri's comment is:

What happens when someone mistakes a journalist for a member of some dumb-ass Politburo.

So now the blogger is a journalist again. When Sullivan was defending himself for having republished a lie about Gov. Palin, her minor daughter, and Trig on his own site, he took pains to make distinctions between the rules for journalists and bloggers. For instance, he didn't have to check the Trig Palin story out first, he said. By republishing it before checking the facts and then keeping it alive for months, he was just asking questions (which jounalists do, of course, before they run their stories).

Defending Yglesias against his web site's host's inteference, Sullivan reverts to yet another pillar of the old journalistic paradigm whereby a newpaper publisher was expected to keep his or her hands off the newsroom.

So in Sullivan's blogger's paradise, writers have it both ways. They can publish whatever they want without abiding by old-school notions about accuracy and due diligence. If by their actions they expose their publishers to libel suits (as Sullivan may have by republishing the Trig story at the Atlantic Monthly Group) or interfere with a business or collegial relationship being enjoyed by those paying the bills (as Yglesias evidently did), too bad. We'll have to see how long before paradise is lost in a courtroom.

No comments: