Saturday, February 11, 2006

I Write Letters

Washington Post's Jim Brady has published a piece about blog rage. This rage refers to people from the left blogosphere writing rude comments on the Washington Post blog and all that happened since. You should read Brady's piece. This is what I wrote to him about it:

Dear Mr. Brady,

I'm a liberal blogger though a very polite one. There are certain aspects of your recent article on the WaPo blog incident that I wish to comment on, because I think that it is not only true that different political groups now live in their own little worlds, it is equally true that this "little world" applies to Washington insiders like yourselves.

I'd like to begin by talking about the viciousness of the comments you received. I copied the first five hundred or so, and it is true that most of the ones I copied were very angry. They were not especially obscene or misogynistic. I get much worse on my blog e-mail every day, and almost all of them from our conservative brothers and sisters. For how the conservatives discuss these things, please go and visit Little Green Footballs (you can Google it).

It is indeed true that the level of politeness among blog commenters is lower than in other contexts we usually live in. But I think that you are downplaying the reason for the incivility you so deplore. It is not only the "inadvertent" error that was later corrected, but the fact that the correction is still a partial one. You mention that Abramoff directed donations to Democrats as well as Republicans, but you do NOT mention that the Democrats share was a tiny percentage of the whole and that in the past the tribes used to give a lot more to Democrats. If anything, it would seem that Abramoff directed donations AWAY from Democrats.

If this is not true, why not tell us exactly what the evidence is you have which supports your argument? I get so much data pointing otherwise by just Googling and using my mind.

More about the anger of those who commented. The impression you gave was that of a vast mass of clueless dittoheads which a few clever bloggers could turn into a nasty horde. The reality is much more complicated. (Boy, I wish that someone actually reads this because I'm brilliant here!):

Consider what has happened in the last two decades or so among the political landscape of this country. The Republican party has stepped decisively to the right and embraced the fundamentalist Christians, many of whom have Taliban-type plans for our society. At the same time the media stopped being required to be balanced and we saw the beginning of the radio talk shows. Rush Limbaugh is a good example of the pundits which appeared and soon were treated as prophets by many Americans. Limbaugh and others like him spent hours vituperating on the evil that is a liberal, calling uppity women feminazis and advocating fairly violent measures to fight the Clinton administration.

Then Fox News appeared, with their "fair and balanced" approach. Bill O'Reilly tells us that we liberals are as much enemies of the country as are the terrorists, and the guests on practically all political tv shows today spend at least half of the time liberal-bashing, making comparisons between us and Hitler and between us and Osama bin Laden. We are even destroying Christmas.

And what do the more respectable media organizations do? Not much, from our point of view. There is no real condemnation of the inaccuracy of this new faith-based approach. Then add to this the consistent conservative howling of liberal bias in the media. I have been told that journalists now only fear two things: getting the names, ages and addresses of those interviewed wrong or being blamed for being too liberal.

There is no howling from the other side about how almost all media is owned by conservatives. The consequence is that the guest lists of the Sunday political shows are now something like three-to-one conservative and even the token liberal tends to be a wishy-washy middle-of-the-roader.

We are growing very angry, true, but it is not because of the partisan division in this country. It is because we are being ignored everywhere. We have no major equivalent of Fox News and the so-called liberal media, such as New York Times, publishes at least as many far right conservative columnists as it publishes lefties. We feel silenced and we feel that nobody listens to our concerns anymore. We feel we have no voice, except for the blogs.

Then put the original article of this debacle into the picture and you can see why blog readers would react.

Yours sincerely,

Echidne of the snakes

It's off-the-cuff and would benefit from editing but I hope that my point is clear enough. Not that Mr. Brady will read this letter. Probably nobody reads it at the Post.