Poor Joe

Do I hear the lush arpeggio of the crying violins? Are those the dulcet tones of the waahmbulance? Could it be that Joe Klein got his feelings hurt by the meanie leftie bloggers?

First, let me say that I really enjoy blogging. It’s a brilliant format for keeping readers up to date on the things I care about—and for exchanging information with them. I recently asked Swampland readers with military experience to comment on whether it was General David Petraeus’ “duty” to tell the unvarnished truth about Iraq when he testifies on Capitol Hill in September. About a dozen readers responded with links to treatises about “duty” in various military journals. Furthermore, I’ve found that some great reporting takes place in the blogosphere: Juan Cole’s Iraq updates are invaluable, Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo did serious muckraking about the U.S. attorneys scandal, and Ezra Klein (no relation) is excellent on health care. I love linking to smart work by others, something you just can’t do in a print column.

But the smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere. Anyone who doesn’t move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed—especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable. Some of this is understandable: the left-liberals in the blogosphere are merely aping the odious, disdainful—and politically successful—tone that right-wing radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh pioneered. They are also justifiably furious at a Bush White House that has specialized in big lies and smear tactics.

And that is precisely the danger here. Fury begets fury. Poison from the right-wing talk shows seeped into the Republican Party’s bloodstream and sent that party off the deep end. Limbaugh’s show—where Dick Cheney frequently expatiates—has become the voice of the Republican establishment. The same could happen to the Democrats.

He’s kidding, right? “Fury begets fury”? He’s never read Little Green Footballs, Free Republic, or Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter is just a little over expressive, huh? Has he read the accusations of treason that come tumbling out whenever someone dares to contradict their Dear Leader? Those nutballs play for keeps, Joe. We may be snarky, but they’re dangerous. Given the experiences of a number of leftie bloggers who have been stalked, verbally attacked, threatened with physical harm, had their personal information posted on the web, had their livelihood put in jeopardy and, in one case I’m intimately familiar with, forced off a server because of a DNS storm; being called a wanker by Atrios doesn’t really cut it as far as being furious is concerned — unless, of course, you really are a wanker.

Comparing the blogosphere to talk-radio is a bit of a stretch, even if Mr. Klein wishes to make it the great metaphorical equalizer: the liberals have control of one form of the media while the conservatives have another. (Oh, wait… I forgot: the liberal media controls everything.) Aside from the obvious fact that not a whole lot of people blog while sitting in drive-time traffic, radio stations and their networks are controlled by a proportionally small number of people who determine what gets on the air. The blogosphere is open to anyone with a computer, and the alliances formed by the lefties have grown not out of some organized conspiracy, owing to the simple fact that “organized lefties” is an oxymoron.

If Mr. Klein feels so put upon by the lefties, perhaps it’s because he’s used to the Democrats being so easily rolled by the bullies of the right — a tradition that seemed to be demonstrated by the Democrats in Congress yet again with the Iraq funding bill. He seems genuinely surprised that some of us are — OMG! — angry with what the loyal Bushies have done to our country. But the question shouldn’t be why are we angry; it should be with all that’s happened in the last six years, why the hell aren’t you?

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Poor Joe

  1. Time for a Whiny Ass Titty Baby award. Geez, Joe, didn’t anyone ever criticize you before?

  2. Geez, Joe, didn’t anyone ever criticize you before?

    i would think anyone who’s read Primary Colors.

  3. FMguru

    That quoted section is hilarious. He loves blogging, but only the parts where he speaks directly to his audience, and they obediently either nod their heads or reply in the approved fashion with the requested information. He doesn’t like the part of blogging where the audience expresses themselves in ways that he does not specifically approve of – talking back, calling him names, quoting his old writings that directly contradict his current claims, using raw langauge, expressing some emotion. In other words, he likes blogging so far as it precisely replicates the environment in which he did his job before blogs were created – the rest of it can go pound sand, when it’s not acidly eating away at the foundations of our Republic.

    Gosh, I wish I could pick and choose all the elements of my job and life that way. I like living in a big house, cashing paychecks, and eating rich desserts, but I can do without paying a mortgage, grinding 40+ hours a week of drudgework, and exercycling ’til I’m drenched in sweat. Well, I can’t, and neither can Joe. Ha ha ha.

    As for his concerns for the future of public discourse: spare me. The old top-down, beltway-centered media model gave us Fox News, the Monica Lewinsky impeachment, the wretched “Gush-Bore” coverage of the 2000 election, the elevation of the barely-coherent Bush into a mix of Churchill, Lincoln, and King Leonidas, the transparently phony rush to war in Iraq, the suspension of civil liberties, the catastrophic occupation of Iraq, the creation of a global network of secret torture prisons and a similar secret network of domestic surveillance – all while Joe Klein and his colleagues in the professional, skeptical, serious media sat on their thumbs when not cooing and clapping in admiration.

    Dear Christ, the head of Joe’s magazine’s Washington Bureau declared the AG firing scandal to be a complete non-story when it first broke out, and laughed at the silly bloggers who thought there was fire somewhere in the pillar of smoke. Josh Marshall at TPM drove the story forward almost single-handedly, while “real” journalists snickered and rolled their eyes and went back to work coming up with new ways to call Hilary Clinton a bitch. Well, who’s laughing now, asshole? The sooner all these dipshits get handed their pink slips, the better off the Republic (and my blood pressure) will be.

    Just what useful purpose does Joe’s skeptical, vigorous, professional media serve nowadays? None that I can see. The sooner it shrinks and evaporates, the better off we’ll all be. Hell, I can’t imagine us citizen-bloggers doing any worse. How could we?

  4. A few more columns like this and even casual readers will find out what we already know: Joe Klein is irrelevant.

  5. NonyNony

    even if Mr. Klein wishes to make it the great metaphorical equalizer: the liberals have control of one form of the media while the conservatives have another.

    Except claiming that liberals “have control” of the blogosphere is a giant stretch. I suspect that if the Dems manage to take control of the Presidency and keep control of the House and Senate in ’08 you’re going to see a surge in the conservative side of the blogosphere as more and more disgruntled conservatives turn to the Internets to find people who think like them.

    It’s the Internets. “Control” is illusory at best unless you’re a telco. Compare that to the network of radio and TV stations owned by conservative billionaires across the country — there really is no comparison.

  6. Melissa McEwan

    Furthermore, I’ve found that some great reporting takes place in the blogosphere: Juan Cole’s Iraq updates are invaluable, Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo did serious muckraking about the U.S. attorneys scandal, and Ezra Klein (no relation) is excellent on health care.

    I’ve heard there are some girls who do good reporting, too. Although it’s the one who made her name with butt-sex jokes that scored the virtual cubicle next to Mr. Klein.

    Ahem.

  7. blame hofmann

    Apparently Joe Kline has never listened to Rush’s show. If he did, he would not be comparing him to radical left wing bloggers. I had a subscription to Sirius radio and was listening to Lynn Samuels on the “left” station. Although I am conservative, I do not limit myself to one source of information. At any rate, I was appalled at the hatred and disgusting language that was coming out of her mouth. She actually referred to Laura Bush as a c***. Hatred exudes from parts of the left and the right, but to put Rush Limbaugh in those groups is wishful thinking from Joe Kline to try to marginalize Limbaugh’s brilliant presentation of conservatism and exposition of liberalism and media bias.

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  9. Joe Klein is a wanker. That we have established. It’s hard to believe he’s considered “liberal,” but then, a lot of people call the Clintons liberals.

    Unfortunately, Klein has a point (and not just the one a top his head) that we cannot avoid.

    We progressive types who write and comment on blogs have to be vigilant about adopting the same intolerant stances and tones as the Freepers and their ilk. I have seen far too many commenters insist that anybody who is not as pure-left as themselves are not worth their time. On AlterNet, Prof. Noam Chomsky has been called a “left gatekeeper,” someone who tries to keep the debate from veering too far off the mainstream, mainly because Chomsky does not buy into the various 9/11 conspiracy theories.

    Be loud, be profane, even be shrill if that’s what the job requires, but don’t be hateful. It does our cause no good and betrays the very principles of progressivism.

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  12. sab

    Let’s not chew on Joe too hard, just because he’s the only member of the MSM who leaves himself vulnerable to our frustrated attacks. I almost think he does these whiny columns to generate critical attacks that he can present as proof to his editor that he isn’t really a real liberal. He’s had other posts this week on Swampland that were that were excellent.

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