Monday, March 26, 2007

'Unbelievably nasty'

You all remember how Ann Althouse revealed herself unwittingly last year as a world-class phony when she decided to make fun of Jessica Valenti for her breasts. Of course, most of us have moved on, having relegated Althouse to the intellectual rubbish heap where she belongs.

But not Althouse. Just ask the misfortunate Garance Franke-Ruta, who conversed at Bloggingheads with Althouse. Her eruption about 50 minutes into the interview has to be seen to be believed.

Most of the discussion leading up to the eruption involved Althouse's unremitting whine about the liberal blogosphere, particularly regarding how it has been "unbelievably nasty" to her, touting her liberal bona fides and claiming that while the right side of the blogosphere, strangely, has treated her warmly, the left side has just declared her a "heretic": "They're just much nastier, and they're trying to enforce a conformity that I just find really ugly."

Franke-Ruta largely did her best to play along, but Althouse finally forced her hand. And then erupted:
Althouse: Well, that's been my experience, and I know you know some of the people who do this. So why don't you ask some of them why they treat me so badly, and come back and tell me what the problem is?

Franke-Ruta: I’m not really aware of anything until this whole Jessica Valenti breast controversy, um ... so, I know that there was some grudges and hostility that came out of that ...

Althouse: Well, um ...

Franke-Ruta: I mean, that's the blogosphere. It's a tough place. Apparently, it's an extremely tough place. You know, one of the best things I --

Althouse: I'm not complaining about the fact that I have to be tough and fight back, because I will, I will stand my ground, I don't accept your -- [crosstalk] -- wait a minute, wait a minute [pointing] -- I don't accept your saying the Jessica Valenti breast controversy. I consider that an insult. -- You know, I'm on the verge of hanging up with you for bringing it up that way.

Franke-Ruta: Really? I'm sorry --

Althouse: It was character assassinating to talk about it like that. There's a whole controversy that could be explained if it was one of our subjects, it could be explained in a way that would make sense to people. But you just throw out a term, that's character assassination toward me, and I don’t like it.

Franke-Ruta: I didn't mean to --

Althouse: [shouting and pointing] There's a whole story there! You want to talk to me personally about it, why don't you find out what the story is, and raise it in a way that has a factual context that makes sense to people, instead of throwing out a term like that that's just an assault on me! I find it very offensive.

Franke-Ruta: That certainly wasn’t my intention. I had just watched this segment where you and Glenn Reynolds were talking about it, and it was a phrase that used within that discussion, so I just -- I certainly didn't mean to --

Althouse: Well, you were raising it within a context of people who are trying to assassinate me on frequent occasions, who say the most nasty things about me with no cause, or just any context -- they take things out of context -- It's a very nasty, ugly thing and I don't like it at all and I don't like just glancing references to it in a way that makes me look bad like that. It's not part of what we're talking about, we had developed the context, and to just throw out a label like that, which is the label from the side of the people who attack me, in the way I'm trying to talk about, in saying that your side of the blogosphere is ugly -- you know, I just consider that undermining and against the whole context of trying to have a conversation here.

Franke-Ruta: I'm sorry, I didn’t realize it was such a sensitive topic. Because really, I haven't followed it that closely. It was just -- there was a controversy, right? I mean, we can talk about it, but it sounds like you don't want to and I'd frankly rather not, because --

Althouse: It would take a long time to explain, and I don't even think it's interesting to listeners, because it's just --

Franke-Ruta: I don’t either!

Althouse: -- a blogosphere flame war, in which I've been mistreated -- [crosstalk] – wait a minute -- I've been mistreated consistently --

Franke-Ruta: It's just part of this controversy that I’m aware of, and if there are other ones, I just -- I don't follow some of these interblog controversies --

Althouse: Well, I don't either, and I don't think they’re appropriate subjects for Bloggingheads --

Franke-Ruta: I don't either.

Althouse: ---- these are flame wars, and what I'm trying to say on the overarching point, is that the left side of the blogosphere is vicious and unfair and nasty to me, and I don't like it, and I'm trying to ask you why that's the way they treat me when I support most of what they're for. Meanwhile, on the right side of the blogosphere, where there's much less overlap, I think, I am treated in a very warm and connecting kind of way. And you're really just kind of undermining my point, uh, by bringing that up like that.

Actually, of course, at this point Althouse herself has just spent the previous couple of minutes thoroughly undermining her point all by her little ole lonesome.

But just to answer her question: There's a reason the right blogosphere is so warm and welcoming to her -- she's useful to them.

Look, I've got no hesitation about criticizing Democrats on serious policy grounds (see here for a relatively recent example), and I don't think anyone in the liberal blogosphere has denounced me as a heretic for doing so.

But what Althouse has built a career out of as a blogger is criticizing Democrats (quite frequently, it must be added, on the most frivolous grounds) in a way that transparently buys into, and supports, right-wing talking points (most notably including the claim that left-wing bloggers are inherently more nasty than those on the right, a claim I think I have documented as patently false). In doing so, she's handy for conservatives the same way Michelle Malkin is handy for bigots -- they can hold her up as an example of some talking point and say, "See, even the liberal Ann Althouse says it, so it must be so!"

The reason the left blogosphere shuns Althouse is that she's a phony, a Fox liberal, a tool. That should be simple enough to understand, but for someone as deeply in denial as Althouse, one can rest assured that any attempt to explain this to her will only result in further incomprehension.

In any event, Franke-Ruta at this point tries to wrap it up, while Althouse keeps talking about how the liberal blogosphere "just seems to be dominated by vicious, ugly people." Franke-Ruta then scores a real point:
I think if that's your opinion of them, that's why they're unkind to you. Right now, at least.

Althouse seems at a loss to respond. Instead, she tries to close it herself, finishing with a big heaping gob of gross hypocrisy:
I don't want to bring up old flame wars. It's not as if I attacked them.

Um, Ms. Althouse? Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but the "Jessica Valenti breast controversy" began when you attacked her.

But I'm sure that didn't count. It never does for special people.

UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the edited video. And Scott Lemieux has more.

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