Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
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Saturday, August 17, 2002
I want to comment on the recent Spinsanity attack on MWO, even though several fine bloggers have gotten there before me. Charles Kuffner goes philosophical, quoting Niebuhr to make his point, while Sideshow has perhaps the strongest post, hardly a rare occurence.

Spinsanity is right in saying that MWO is usually harsh and sometimes excessive. But Brendan is entirely wrong in charging that it "pollute[s] the public discourse". The unfortunate reality is that the public discourse is already utterly polluted by the right wing smear machine.

Does this mean that MWO is justified in using the same tactics for opposing political goals? It doesn't, but MWO doesn't stoop to the tactics common on the right. It is factually reliable and it attacks individuals, instead of smearing 'liberals' or other meaninglessly broad categories of people.

The mainstream media loves to hide behind the pretense that they're merely passive observers reporting on the political process, not active participants who are shaping it. This allows them to evade responsibility for their real role. MWO gives them a level of accountability that is very modest indeed, just a public exposure of their dishonesty and an overflowing e-mail inbox, but even that seems to be more than quite a few of them are willing to accept. This tactic of encouraging e-mail campaigns seems to be the main reason why MWO draws a stronger response than other sites which have similar content - a graphic example of how very thin-skinned the big media types who love to destroy the reputation of others get when they are exposed to any form of criticism.

Spinsanity suggests that MWO will encourage escalating vicious rhetoric from the right: "The editors' claim that their actions are a justified response to the tactics used by others is both insufficient and, ultimately, circular: anyone who listens to Limbaugh, for example, knows that he often uses the same rationale. The reality is that, with liberals increasingly agitated, both sides will continue to escalate their rhetoric to the point of hysteria, all the while pointing wildly at each other to rationalize their actions." The reality is that Limbaugh, Coulter, et al used these tactics long before MWO existed. They won't play nice just because liberals agree to.

Let's be realistic here. Of the last two Democrats elected President in this country, one was accused, not only by fringe groups, of crimes that included mass murder and treason, then impeached for committing adultery, and the other wasn't even allowed to take office. People who claim that in this environment it's the Democrats who are going too far either aren't paying attention or are just giving their opponents an unsubtle request to roll over and play dead.