Friday, July 07, 2006

Dogged Off

I got involved in the Roger Ailes/Bob Somerby dustup on FireDogLake over the past couple of days. Ailes posted a snarky screed on Joe Klein and John Harwood's weekend talk show appearances, calling Klein and Cokie Roberts (who is the daughter of Democratic Party legend T. Hale Boggs) "Republican reporters" who were supposed to balance the conservative-leaning reporters they appeared with. Somerby took Ailes to task in July 5th's Daily Howler, saying:

But Klein and Roberts aren’t “Republicans;” that’s a childish way to discuss the enduring problems with their work as pundits (problems we have discussed for years). More specifically, as anyone who watched This Week would know, that post completely misrepresents what actually occurred in Sunday’s roundtable.

I don't read all of FDL every day but I do know that it's a very popular blog on the Progressive "side" of the internets, so I wandered over there to see what the response to this accusation might be. FDL is a high-traffic blog that makes multiple posts during the day, and I figured someone must have seen this post by the time I got to it. If not, I wanted to let them know about it, because an allegation of misleading and misrepresentation shouldn't be allowed to stand on a blog that prides itself on being a leader of the reality-based community. I was a little surprised to see no mention of the Daily Howler post on the day's topics, either as a front-page article or in the comments. So I ventured onto a then-recent post that was more or less an open comments thread and posted a very mild link to the Daily Howler.

Predictably a bunch of white knights sprang up to defend their favorite blog from my perceived attack. It didn't matter that I didn't accuse FDL of anything, just passed along that they had been called to account in public; the very fact that I had posted a link to something critical made me a "concern troll" and a "Somerby shill." It truly was a bizarre mirror image of what I would have gotten had I gone onto Redstate or Free Republic and defended Al Gore or said something positive about his movie. People, if you're reading this, you have to learn how to tolerate differing viewpoints and not knee-jerkingly attack anyone who happens to disagree with you or says something critical. I know it's asking a lot, but please, we should make the effort.

Anyway, as I said it was predictable if a bit disappointing to have it actually happen. I suffered through it and kept cool, and eventually Christy Hardin Smith posted a comment that some sort of response would be forthcoming.

Today, Ailes posted his response to Somerby. And once again, it is a snarky, innuendo-filled "defense" that spends much time condescendingly explaining to Somerby (and us) how things work in the world of Roger Ailes:

Somerby says: It’s bad to characterize Klein as a Republican because he sometimes says things critical of the Republican Party in general or specific Republicans in particular.

I say: When you become a serial purveyor of fraudlent talking points concerning Democrats which are indistingiushable from Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman’s Greatest Fundraising Speeches, you deserve ridicule. And that includes the insult you earn from the content of your running commentary: Republican.

Oh, sure, I could have accused JoeK of having "Millionaire Pundit Values" or of "typing up scripts." I could have called him a "fake," or a "celebrity." Indeed, I could point out that JoeK "want[s] to trash major Democrats only," and then express the most profound bewilderment as to Joe’s possible motive for doing so.

Instead, I called him a Republican. I did it my way.

So now we know: telling the reading public that Joe Klein is a Republican (an utter falsehood) is exactly the same as saying he has Millionaire Pundit Values, or that he is a fake (DINO I assume), or that he is a celebrity (which is somehow a bad thing). Ailes buys into the wingnut strategy of making shit up about the people you disagree with; it works for them, doesn't it? Why not do the same, see how they like it.

The comments below Ailes' piece again ranged on both sides, some defending Somerby and some defending Ailes. Actually very few defended Ailes per se; for the most part the anti-Somerby commenters were more interested in trashing Somerby as a has-been or never-was than in explicitly backing Ailes. One of the early comments mentioned some "Somerby shill":

27. BarbaraB says:
July 7th, 2006 at 1:26 am

Thanks for coming by, Roger. We had a Somerby shill in here on Wednesday who kept insisting that Jane and/or Christy drop everything they were doing in order to justify your piece or refute Somerby’s charges. Various members of the community (including the goddesses themselves) told the shill to take a hike, which eventually he, she or it did. Tiresome while it lasted, though.

That would have been me, BarbaraB. I would challenge little miss perfect to find one single comment where I demanded that the FDL people "drop everything they were doing." I merely suggested that some kind of response, even one from Ailes himself, would probably be a good idea; it's what I would do if it were my blog and someone made me aware of a similar thing. Apparently that's too hard a concept for BarbaraB however. Sorry I was so tiresome to you, perhaps a quick nap would help.

So that's the story so far. We'll see if it goes any further. I just felt that since comments at FDL were turned off before I had a chance to comment, I would do it here. I'm a bit irked by the experience and needed to get this off my chest.