Bloggers v. The Village: In which I make the Big Time…

Apparently the Rights wants an incompetent press corps — bad reporters, it seems, serves its interest.

Allan Wolfe’s excellent review of John Heilemann’s and Mark Halperin’s idiotic “Game Change” puts RBC at the forefront of lithium-deprived lefty bloggers, quoting yours truly saying that Halperin is, well, idiotic.  (Actually, it misquotes me a touch: I said that Halperin’s commentary is vapid, smug, and inane, not innate.  I don’t know how commentary can be “innate.”).

But aside from Wolfe concluding reluctantly that the bloggers are right, there is an interesting and important aside in his piece: Halperin is despised not generally by “bloggers,” but “lefty bloggers.”  Their (our) complaint: “the Washington press corps deals in trivia, reflects conventional wisdom and is all too respectful of the politicians it should be challenging.”

Why should this be solely the complaint of the left?

I believe that it was Steve Benen who first pointed out this distinction: the right criticizes the MSM for bias, particularly liberal bias.  Blue Blogistan, on the other hand, mostly (although not always) takes a page out of Michael Dukakis and says that this isn’t about ideology but competence.  Reporters just accept talking points.  They focus on personalities.  They make ex cathedra statement about something will play politically when they have no evidence for it.  In other words, they aren’t good reporters.  But a priori, this doesn’t have a progressive valence.

Whether a press corps that “deals in trivia, reflects conventional wisdom and is all too respectful of the politicians it should be challenging” serves the interests of the Right is an exercise left for the reader.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

6 thoughts on “Bloggers v. The Village: In which I make the Big Time…”

  1. I also resent the idea that you represent the left. You are a Democrat who engages in plenty of left bashing. You and I have a common interest here. I don't want people to conflate your political ideas and mine, and neither do you.

  2. "Reporters just accept talking points."

    But, of course, they don't just accept talking points. Whether they accept any given talking point is where the bias is expressed. When they're feeling lazy, or not terribly involved, they just echo everyone's talking points. On issues where they care, one side's talking points get echoed, the other side's ignored.

    The left is correct, the media just treat it all as talking points, not caring one whit about whether they're true or not. The right is correct, there's bias.

  3. The simplistic ideas and trivia served up by the media serve the right because the rights' agenda is the crippling of government on the complex social fronts and strengthening it on the military and police authority fronts. These ends are served well by focusing on two dimenssional emotional hyperbole instead of discussing the real world complexities of policy formation and implementation.

    As George W Bush famously bragged, he didn't do nuance and that was just fine with the press. It's sure a lot easier to show pictures of bombs exploding than explain the infinite details of health care reform. Easier to joke about Al Gore's boring wardrobe than to deal with the substance of the difference between candidates.

    And then when the right's crackpot, simplistic BS leads to the inevitable economic and societal collapse that it always does (for centuries now) there is another horse race election to hype and sell ads for and that's fun and makes a lot of money too.

  4. " explain the infinite details of health care reform. Yes, given all that transparency on C-Span Obama promised, the press is sure falling down on explaining the "infinite details."

    Those "talking points" are examined closely when GWB put them out and swallowed whole when the Won transparently teleprompts them to the nation. The left's crackpot hyperobsessive paranoid BS leads to inevitable economic and societal ossification, as the Communist systems the left pines for demonstrate amply across the last 9 decades.

    Churchill is still right that the left still don't understand democracy, obsessively though they combine research and rant. The US is still the greatest country because we are a center-right nation and not the elitist unionized collection of legalized thugs that runs much of the EU. The Democrats fundamentally reject the Constitution and Constitutional perfesser Obama is there to deconstruct it paragraph by paragraph. With the help of Cass Sunstein.

  5. Actually an insistence on competence does have a progressive valence. It's a very old kind of progressivism, insisting simply that how good you are at your stated job is more important than whom you know, who your family is or whose egos you stroke. But such is the state of the Village that even meritocracy counts as progressive.

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