Thursday, July 30, 2009

You Too Can Ascend to an 'Unofficial Leadership Position Within the Blogosphere'

The quoted section is from Michael Massing, speaking of Glenn Greenwald, at the New York Review, "The News About the Internet. He talks about the bloggers he's found while researching the article, and he notes that the blogosphere's online commentators aggressively reject the newspaper industry's goal of objectivity. Here he discusses Greenwald:

The bloggers I have been reading reject such reflexive attempts at "balance," and it's their willingness to dispense with such conventions that makes the blogosphere a lively and bracing place. This is nowhere more apparent than in the work of Glenn Greenwald. A lawyer and former litigator, Greenwald is a relative newcomer to blogging, having begun only in December 2005, but as Eric Boehlert notes in his well-researched but somewhat breathless Bloggers on the Bus, within six months of his debut he "had ascended to an unofficial leadership position within the blogosphere." In contrast to the short, punchy posts favored by most bloggers, Greenwald offers a single daily essay of two thousand to three thousand words. In each, he draws on extensive research, amasses a daunting array of facts, and, as Boehlert puts it, builds his case "much like an attorney does."

Greenwald initially made his mark with fierce attacks on the Bush administration's policy of warrantless surveillance, and he continues to comment on the subject with great fury. Other recent targets have included Goldman Sachs (for its influence in the Obama administration), Jeffrey Rosen (for his dismissive New Republic piece on Sonia Sotomayor), Jeffrey Goldberg (for his attacks on the Times 's Roger Cohen), the Washington Post Op-Ed page (for the many neoconservatives in residence), and the national press in general (for its insistence on using euphemisms for the word "torture"). In June he wrote:

The steadfast, ongoing refusal of our leading media institutions to refer to what the Bush administration did as "torture"—even in the face of more than 100 detainee deaths; the use of that term by a leading Bush official to describe what was done at Guantánamo; and the fact that media outlets frequently use the word "torture" to describe the exact same methods when used by other countries—reveals much about how the modern journalist thinks.

For the press, Greenwald added, "there are two sides and only two sides to every 'debate'—the Beltway Democratic establishment and the Beltway Republican establishment."

In so vigilantly watching over the press, Greenwald has performed an invaluable service. But his posts have a downside. Absorbing the full force of his arguments and dutifully following his corroborating links, I felt myself drawn into an ideological wind tunnel, with the relentless gusts of opinion and analysis gradually wearing me down. After reading his harsh denunciations of Obama's decision not to release the latest batch of torture photos, I began to lose sight of the persuasive arguments that other commentators have made in support of the President's position. As well-argued and provocative as I found many of Greenwald's postings, they often seem oblivious to the practical considerations policymakers must contend with.

That's interesting.

And keep in mind, except a brief mention of Drudge Report, Massing does not discuss the many conservative bloggers who have broken huge stories ahead of the press. Recall that
Power Line and a number of top conservative blogs provided most of the reporting that led to Dan Rather's resignation as anchor at CBS evening news.

But Massing has a point about the "wind-tunneling," although I think it's better to have it than not. The mainstream press is not going to cover the tough stories with the same no-holds-barred aggressiveness. It's up to readers to sift through the baloney and make up their own minds.

Greenwald responds to Massing here, "
Practicalities v. Principles: The Prime Beltway Affliction" (via Memeorandum). Greenwald's a nasty guy, and he's reviled by many across the web (see, "Greenwald’s Sock Puppets: The Worst Blog Scandal Ever?"). But he's feted by Eric Boehlert as an unofficial leader of the blogosphere. I guess good content matters, even if it's leftist partisan hackery. Folks might keep that in mind when reading about threats of excommunication from the blogosphere (as was the case in the recent flame up around these parts).


Unknown said...

There's as little irony in a neocon defending the moral and constitutional relativism of both the Bush neocons, and now the Obama neocon-lites, as there is in our "free press's" giving a free pass to pols who demonstrate their contempt for our constitution by violating its core tenets. Or, by violating what Greeenwald has called, "principles [that] are absolute and unyielding by their nature."

Greenwald explains, further:

"But questions about our basic liberties and core premises of our government -- presidential adherence to the law, providing due process before sticking people in cages, spying on Americans only with probable cause search warrants, treating all citizens including high political officials equally under the law -- are supposed to be immune from such "practical" and ephemeral influences. Those principles, by definition, prevail in undiluted form regardless of public opinion and regardless of the "practical" needs of political officials. That should not be controversial; that is the central republican premise for how our political system was designed."

Mr. Douglas offers no defense of the anti-Constitutional policies of the Bush era (many of which, as Greenwald points out, Obama has continued). Nor does he offer a defense of the press that, outside the blogosphere, has remained dangerously mute as our civil liberties have been dismantled.

Some patriot!


Steve Burri said...

I happen to be the Official Leader withing the Blogosphere, but I'm just lacking a few million followers.

It's a heavy, heavy burden, but somebody's gotta do it.

science fiction writer said...

Objectivity in the media? ROTFL

Obama policy enlarges the so-called anti-constitutional national security polices that Bush instituted.