Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Big Fat Smooch for Michelle

by Sara
Howie Kurtz did a lovely little upbeat Valentine's Day tribute to the WaPo's apparent new sweetheart, Michelle Malkin -- and Eric Boehlertis over at Media Matters today with a pointed, scathing, and altogether furious piece that takes off on that event to examine the big fat wet kiss-up that the mainstream media is snogging on rightwing bloggers.

Boehlert asks:
Where, in the last two years, has the Post's Style section run a feature on Markos "Kos" Moulitsas Zuniga, whose DailyKos.com is the most popular political blog in the world? Where was the feature on progressive wunderkind organizer Matt Stoller, one of the forces behind the widely read MyDD website? Or pioneers like Eric Alterman (a Media Matters for America senior fellow) and Josh Marshall, who were among the first to establish progressive outposts online? Or John Amato, who revolutionized political blogging by posting video clips on his Crooks and Liars website, which, according to one recent survey, was the 10th most-linked-to political website in the world? Or Jane Hamsher, who founded influential firedoglake.com, and who's been leading a team live-blogging the Scooter Libby trial? Or Duncan Black (a Media Matters senior fellow), whose hugely popular blog, Eschaton, remains an online must-read? Or John Aravosis, the progressive activist who runs AMERICAblog and just a few weeks ago forced the candy giant Mars to yank online Snickers ads after Aravosis and others tagged them as anti-gay? (Full disclosure: I know most of those bloggers on a personal basis.)

Here's a for-instance. Progressive blogger Glenn Greenwald last year wrote a New York Times bestselling book, How Would a Patriot Act?, critiquing the Bush administration's abuse of executive privilege. His popular and insightful political blog, Unclaimed Territory, just recently moved over to Salon.com, where its influence continues to grow. Let's start the clock ticking and see how long it takes (if ever) for the Post to invite Glenn Greenwald out to lunch in order to write up a flattering profile of the rising progressive blogger. I doubt it will ever happen, in part because over the last two years Greenwald has been mentioned in grand total of two articles in the Post, compared to the 12 articles that have mentioned Malkin over the same time period.

Bottom line: At the Post, Bush bloggers matter, liberal ones do not. (Arianna Huffington, who last year launched The Huffington Post, stands out as lone exception to the Post rule. Of course, Huffington was an established media star before she started up her hugely successful website that's helped transform the political landscape.)

The one lengthy Post feature of a liberal blogger that I can find from the last 24 months was a page-one piece from April 2006 when the Post shadowed lesser-known blogger Maryscott O'Connor, who writes at My Left Wing. The Post portrayed O'Connor as a Bush-hating lunatic. Key phrases from the article: "angry," "rage," "fury," "angriest," "outrage," "crude," "loud," "crass," "inflammatory," "attack."
Bohlert goes on to cite, chapter and verse, Malkin's own recent history of miscues and bad calls. There's Michelle on MSNBC, telling America that the Swiftboat Veterans were claiming John Kerry shot himself on purpose in Vietnam. (They never said that, but she stuck to her guns for several days.) There's Michelle ranting endlessly for weeks about Terry Schiavo, hitting hard on a GOP talking points memo that she insisted was fabricated by the WaPo. (The accusation fell apart when a Republican senator copped to writing the memo.) There's Michelle accusing a Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer of conspiring with Iraqi insurgents to stage a photo-op assassination of a Baghdad election worker. (Wrong again.) And, oh, look!, here's Michelle accusing a mentally ill University of Oklahoma engineering student who turned himself into a human bomb of being in league with Al Qaeda (an overhyped claim that was refuted by every law enforcement agency associated with the case).

Boehlert goes on, covering Malkin's crusade againt the NYT last summer for printing photos of Cheney and Rumsfeld's summer homes on the Maryland shore -- a controversy that Rumsfeld even found puzzling. And then, just last month, there was the humiliation of the Captain Jamil Hussein conspiracy, which blew up under her like an IED. Dan Rather's distinguished four-decade career was vaporized in a far lesser disaster; but somehow, Malkin managed to walk away from this one -- and straight from there onto the Style pages of the Washington Post, without mussing a single strand of blow-dried hair along the way.

None of this is news to longtime readers of this blog. Dave worked with Michelle long before she hit the national scene, and can testify that, even as a baby ideologue, she was never one to let facts get in the way of an incendiary tale. He's also given much time and page space to debunking In Defense of Internment, a one-book history distortion field that invites us to unlearn some of the hardest and most important lessons America learned about itself in the last century.

Building on these observations, Boehlert caps the piece with the central question that that we need to force the mainstream media to answer:
Let's face it -- if a liberal blogger ever stitched together a record of sloppy, Keystone Kops-style obfuscation the way Malkin has, Post editors wouldn't even know how to spell the blogger's name, let alone be interested in profiling them. And who would blame them? Any overexcited dolt can randomly make stuff up on the Internet, or link to others who do. Apparently, the fact that Malkin does that like clockwork and that it, in turn, gets people upset is newsworthy in the eyes of Washington Post editors.
The answer, of course, is that we no longer have journalists. What we have instead is a theater troupe of court entertainers, larger-than-life personalities whose job it is to stage amusing little melodramas for the pleasure of the elite and the distraction of the masses. The media as a "profession" is just a pretense; their real job is to lend star quality to parties, flatter the egos of the powerful, keep their secrets, and faithfully disseminate gossip when called upon to do so. It's a job that requires a pretty face, a knack for finding and igniting pointless controversies that jack up the ratings but don't threaten the status quo, and a willingness to suck up to America's new princely class. These are, of course, the only qualifications Malkin can muster in any measure.

Anybody with a clear grasp of factual truth and a commtment to tell it is patently unqualified to step onto this stage, and need not apply. Those people are why Blogger exists.

Updated with corrections -- h/t Sinister Eyebrow

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