June 04, 2002
Media whoring

Media whoring Jennifer Liberto's article in Salon about Media Whores Online has gotten some buzz lately. As is often the case, Atrios is all over it.

While I generally agree with the criticisms that are being made of Liberto's piece, I find I'm not wholly comfortable with MWO. Oh, their anonymity doesn't bother me. There's plenty of anonymous bloggers out there. When you can't judge someone by a name and reputation, you have to judge them by the persuasiveness of their writing and their fidelity to facts, and by that standard many of them put certain Actual Professional Journalists to shame. MWO and other collaborative efforts like them should be judged by the same standard. Plus, as one of Atrios' commenters says, we seem to have no problem accepting the word of "real" journalists, including Matt Drudge, when they use anonymous sources. With MWO you have unknown writers citing names. How is that less trustworthy?

No, what bothers me is the tone of their writing, and especially the tone of the email campaigns that they've led. I can certainly sympathize with those like Digby, who comments that "[c]ompared to Freep or Lucianne, MWO is St. Francis of Assisi". It's hard to see the value in making like Emily Post when you feel you're being shouted down at every turn.

But still. Maybe I'm just too squishy-nice for my own good (*cough* *cough*), but I'd rather maintain a civil tone and with it the moral high ground. How else can I maintain my aura of Self-Satisfied Liberal Arrogance if I'm getting my hands dirty like that? Seriously, it's just not my style to go all ballistic like they do. I suppose I'm happy that someone else is doing it for me, but I still find it all a bit cringeworthy sometimes.

For example, in the infamous case of Stenographer Sue, I have to say that I don't consider the emails in question to be at all constructive. Frankly, if I'd gotten them as feedback I'd dismiss them as cranks. I'd probably feel more secure in my righteousness if what I'd said could spur people like that to spew invective at me.

Of course, maybe the fact that Sue resorted to a hamhanded attempt to get her correspondents fired indicates that they'd struck a nerve. I just know that whatever I may think of MWO, I'd have never written such emails, even from a throwaway address. It's just not me.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 04, 2002 to Other punditry