Tuesday, April 19

There's Two Sides To Every Two-Headed Coin

Forgive me, I don't check in with Howie Kurtz very often, but haven't I seen this exact same column before?

The growing tide of personal attacks by bloggers and e-mailers "can make you really paranoid," says New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney.


Well now, that didn't take long. We're rewriting Daniel Okrent's column from last September, where he called out the big bad emailer who made Adam Nagourney cry. Yeah, it went over so well the first time.

Just what is it with these guys? The offending email to Nagourney said, "I hope your kid gets his head blown off in a Republican war." At this, said Okrent, "a limit had been passed."

But why? What limit? It's unpleasant. It's downright ugly. It also clearly expresses, however unfortunately, a political thought: "If you support the war I hope your child dies in it." I don't expect Mr. Nagourney to like it, any more than pro-reproductive rights types like being called murderers. I do expect that political reporters be somewhat conversant with the timbre of our public debate. But apparently they aren't, or else they believe what they do is so subversive to the machinations of the party in power that its opponents should be offering to buy them a beer.

The rise of the blogosphere remains one of the most exciting communications developments in decades, giving ordinary folks the chance to bite back at a media establishment widely viewed as arrogant.


Okay, the fourth-rate impersonation of an NFL Films voice-over aside, where would any of us "ordinary folks" get the idea that the media establishment is arrogant?

Where does that come from, Howie? Your paycheck, or your byline, makes you "extraordinary"? Or your teevee gig? Or, what, a journalism degree? What makes any of you any more important than a good auto mechanic or a decent bartender? If this exciting communications development called "blogging" has demonstrated anything, it's that anyone with a reasonable command of the language and a lick of sense can do your job as well as you do.

But the increasingly caustic nature of some online criticism is prompting many journalists to complain that their honesty and motivation are being trashed along with their work.


Oh yeah? Well, let 'em complain. This isn't some invention of the blogosphere, nor is it restricted to crackpots typing away in basements throughout the land. There's a real, and serious, concern about the effects of corporate ownership and advertiser influence, of dumbed-down and tarted-up coverage, rewrites of Republican blast faxes and faux-balanced, opinion pieces disguised as straight news. It's not just "ordinary people" talking about this, Howie, it's people in your own industry. Maybe if we heard that sort of thing addressed on your show, instead of these endless circle jerks of hurt and astonishment, us basement-dwellin' bumpkins would quit writing you all those emails and set about marryin' our attractive cousins and pickin' up your garbage like we oughta.

And Howie? Whatever the excesses of the great unwashed--and apparently I'm more familiar with them than a lot of journalists--you and Howard Fineman are about the last two who deserve any sympathy.

2 comments:

Alex said...

If this exciting communications development called "blogging" has demonstrated anything, it's that anyone with a reasonable command of the language and a lick of sense can do your job as well as you do.

It's also demonstrated that those qualities can be distressingly rare.

Both in and out of the commercial press, of course. Wouldn't want Mr. Brooks to feel left out.

doghouse riley said...

I meant Howie's job in particular. To actually be David Brooks, though, would require a stylist of considerable skill, or someone else whose mother insisted for eighteen years he had asthma when he didn't.