Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Malkin thing

OK, so one of my regular readers has already wondered out loud if I'm obsessing over Michelle Malkin -- a fair enough question, since I've been posting a lot about her lately. And I'm going to be doing a lot more over the next week or so.

Let's just say that it's not about the person. And it's not an obsession, exactly. More of a focus.

Most of you will have noticed by now that this blog is primarily dedicated to tracking the extremist right and its interactions with mainstream America -- and especially in the ways extremism expresses itself violently, both as eliminationist rhetoric and thuggish behavior. And of course, as the author of a book on the Japanese American internment, I've written a lot on that subject as well.

So it shouldn't be surprising that Malkin comes up on this blog a lot, for a lot of reasons:
-- She's written a book of fraudulent history about the internment.

-- Her latest book is about the supposedly "unhinged" nature of modern liberalism, painting liberals as the political bloc most under the influence of extremists.

-- She is herself a classic example of what I call a "transmitter": someone who treads in both the extremist and mainstream right with relative ease, picking up ideas that have circulated in the echo chambers of the far right and repackaging them for mainstream conservative consumption.

So I'm going to be exploring the latter two aspects of her week over the next week or so in a serial review, of sorts, of Unhinged.

And then, I hope, I can let the subject rest for a bit. Certainly, I don't expect to engage in any kind of actual give-and-take with Malkin.

That's because, to date, she's responded to my criticism of her work exactly zero times. Indeed, her response to me so far has been to pretend, as best she can, that I simply don't exist. And I'm sure if you ask her, it has nothing to do with the points I make or the strengths of my arguments. Nope.

Nor does it have anything to do with her backing out of that agreed-to phone interview. No no no.

I expect that it's because I'm "unhinged." Makes for a nice catch-all excuse for cowardice, doesn't it? Especially when you're fond of boasting before audiences of adulating conservatives that you've unflinchingly confronted all your critics openly. Um, all of them but one, that is.

Now, it's true that Malkin has made oblique references to my work, mostly by linking to right-wing hacks who post blather attacking me (for the most, ad hominem). The latest was Michelle's post linking to this nonsense from Brian Maloney, her partner in reporting on the Air America non-story and a Seattle radio personality who seems not to have a show these days. She also links to a Glenn Reynolds post that just approvingly links to Maloney. Here's what Maloney wrote in response to this post:
Does this sound like anything more than journalistic sour grapes? Malkin's been at this a long time, it's hard to argue she hasn't paid her dues.

Worse, Neiwert is the author of a competing book on Japanese-American internment camps and that's a likely element of his obvious animosity.

Yet this site was linked to a number of liberal blogs this weekend, resulting in much higher than average traffic. Anything to slam your enemies, one supposes.

By the same standard, how many liberal writers would hold up as "journalists"? Why can't a commentator be a journalist? Yes, the times have changed, but Malkin's role is clear to her readership.

In working with Michelle, it's clear her investigative abilities are well-honed, so is small town newspaper "crime blotter" experience really necessary to develop this skill?

Especially interesting: in order to bash Malkin, circa-1999 Seattle Times columns are cited (and their backlash), forcing the reader to trust Neiwert's interpretation of ancient history. Proving only that there were differences of opinion over a talk show guest booking dispute, his argument falls flat.

A couple of factual points:

-- The post in question was not inspired by, nor was it a response of any kind, to her book. It was strictly in response to her blog posts. Maloney's characterization of it as being so was just factually false.

-- The links he cites later to "circa 1999 Seattle Times" columns, and from a "hit piece," didn't come from this post. They came from an earlier one I linked to in this post.

As for the rest, welllll ... in order for there to be "sour grapes," one has to envy the position of the person being criticized. And believe me, there is nothing about Malkin's career to envy.

I mean, really. Sure, she gets a lot of face time and makes lots of bucks. But who would envy a sellout political hack whose career is completely dependent on creating fresh propaganda for a well-moneyed movement? Please.

But that's the entire substance of Maloney's response to the many facts I cite, as well as the many examples of Malkin's shoddy work I provide: I'm envious of her.

Guys like Maloney populate the media business, especially in broadcast media, and they represent everything wrong with it, because they have no idea what constitutes serious journalism. They're only capable of ad hominem "he's a bad person with bad motives" arguments, because that's how they think. Their own positions are never the product of logic, reason, or fact, but instead of narrow personal interests and vendettas. So they assume it's true of everyone else.

No wonder he and Malkin get along so well. As you'll see in the coming week, that's pretty much the whole substance -- such as it is -- of Unhinged.

But for what it's worth: I don't really have any thoughts about Malkin the person (if, indeed, her work really is the product of one person). I'm not that interested, because her work reveals her to be such a shallow ideologue. I don't hate her -- and the idiots who post hateful, misogynistic and racist shit about her on liberal boards are, as I've said before, not on my side. (I also have a policy of deleting those kinds of posts here.)

Malkin is worth tackling for two good reasons: A) she is very influential, particularly in the blogosphere; and B) her work is harmful disinformation that needs to be examined and eviscerated. And as it happens, I have the kind of information needed to counter her pollution. So please, bear with me.

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