Jeff Jarvis finally cranked up the outrage machine enough to get back at me for the conservative blog taxonomy thing:
A certain blogger and comment troll I won’t name or link to - nya, nya — has been getting lots of links in the last two weeks with his list of ham-handed, sophomoric insults, some sexual, aimed at those he thinks are right-wing bloggers.
He then selectively quotes one part of one exchange I had in his comments to justify the troll remark, while not linking or including any other of my many comments on his site.
Another example of my "trollish" comments that he missed:
We won, destroyed the Viet Cong as a fighting force. The media called it a loss.
I think most people agree Tet was a military disaster for the VC. They expected the people of the RVN to rise up and - guess what - they didn't. The US won many set-piece engagements. There just weren't enough of them to make a difference. They preferred to fight as guerillas, which we never countered. They did develop counters to our tactics, though, like "hugging the belt". And all the competence in the world couldn't change the fact that our ally was the corrupt, inept army of a corrupt, inept government. The NVA/VC didn't beat us, and neither did the media. ARVN did.
And this, on the Rather mess:
The reaction to this admission seems disproportionate, Hubris. CBS screwed up in a major way, the screw-up was revealed, Rather has apologized (and I assume will again on-air) and the president of CBS news has apologized. Despite bald assertions by people like Misanthropyst, there is no evidence that CBS intentionally promoted bogus goods. When I mentioned other journalists who have been used to transmit lies above, rather than making a tu quoque argument, I was pointing out that stuff like this happens sometimes.
My basic problem with the Blogs Triumphant thing is that I don't understand how it is we're supposed to be taking over reporting. Jarvis waves his hands around and says, "Open sesame", but it's not clear what that means. Disclose interview notes? Disclose draft stories that got spiked? All this stuff that was not verified or discovered to be actually false, given permanent life on the web? Two words: legal liability. Also, what's the relevance? Jarvis also goes on and on about "the news is a conversation", but you can only have so many conversations and actually understand anything, much less have time to do your job. When it comes down to it, you have to separate out the noise and decide for yourself if a fact is true. What's the alternative? Take a poll of commenters at Little Green Footballs?
Right now there's already a pretty good relationship between bloggers and journalists. They read us, we read them. Some of them are us. Maybe this publicity will get a few more to read us. But that's basically it. There is going to be no magical process where we all collect and report the news and it's a much better product. That's just a libertarian fantasy.
On media coverage of the political conventions:
We're talking about convention coverage. Jarvis blasts journalists for going to the Dem convention, because there is no news there, but praises bloggers who go. Why? Because Jarvis has it in for journalists. Well and good, but let's please make it consistent. If he thinks the conventions are unimportant, why should bloggers go? I say conventions are pure entertainment and theater, but let's not pretend that entertainment and theater are politically unimportant in the US. And it's strange to have Jarvis criticizing something for being about entertainment; after all, Jarvis' claim to fame is editing an entertainment, not news, publication.
On John le Carre:
He clearly believed in the moral equivalence of the west and the soviet union. He believed the soviet union had the economy they claimed and would eventually out produce the west.
On what do you base this? He certainly seemed to consider the officers of western and Soviet intelligence services to be morally equivalent. As for the rest, he was clearly disappointed that the Soviets were thugs and tyrants, when the Russians had tried so hard to pull their society out of the Csarist muck. All along though, he was clear that they were thugs and tyrants, as a group. Of course, he could treat individual Russians as people, not as stereotypes.
Jarvis - I read those books. In all of them, everybody was vaguely venal. Nothing was ever stated as baldly as in that one quoted paragraph.
The entire plot of Honourable Schoolboy (1977) turns on a CIA betrayal of the Brits, in which they conspire with drug dealers and precipitate the murder of a heroic British agent. True, there isn't a single paragraph of such force as the one you quote in his work pre-Russia House. But if he is being strident, it might be because he's unusually provoked.
Clearly, I have nothing of substance to say.
Not that I am above a little invective:
Mithras believes that Spain deserves this because Aznar supported the US in Iraq
Christ on a broken crutch, can no one here follow a logical thread?
Here we go. Everyone ready?
1. Jarvis avers the Spanish people are angry about the bombings. Grrrr. See how angry they are.
2. Jarvis implies that the Spanish people will now unite with, um, people like you in wanting to go invade whichever country Bush points to.
3. I point out that the Spanish people opposed the invasion of Iraq and, if the bombings are actually by al Qaeda, they will vote the government that brought them into that invasion out.
Follow so far?
Now, nothing I have said - and nothing the Spanish people have said - implies that Spain deserved to be bombed. So just slap that thought out of your tiny minds. Because there are just too many of you all for me to do it.
And how did the Spanish people end up voting? Remind me.
Today Jarvis also says I am "the guy who tries to decree who’s liberal." He's referring to this:
Jarvis's approach - you could call it his "marketing strategy" - to blogging is to take the position that he is "the liberal Democrat who criticizes other liberals and Democrats." That way, it shows his dedication to principle, his knowledgability of the subject, and purity of his motive. It's instant credibility. It also makes people madder quicker and obviously appeals to the enemies of liberalism as much as its friends, both of which are good for the hit count. It's like a family member tossing out verbal hand grenades at Christmas dinner, which I think someone else said in describing this whole discussion.
It might be this is all a cynical ploy on Jarvis's part. He might be a conservative Republican who calls himself a liberal Democrat (and adopts some "safe" critical opinions of some things conservatives and Republicans do) just to gain that "instant credibility." That has the elements of a joke: "See how stupid those liberals are? I can completely snow them!" I would just like to find out if he's laughing with us or at us.
You want to come sit at our Christmas dinner table? Prove you're cousin Jeff, not just some random guy off the street who is posing as him. You're a liberal? Show us your bona fides. That's all.
I still think the criticism obtains. He never really had a reply to it.
Jarvis' problem, I think, is that he wants to define himself the way he wants, to maximize his popularity, and what I have written about him shows what a tap-dancer he is:
I'm a corporate lawyer. I know law pretty well. When I am responding to the comments of someone who is an actual expert in some other field, I try to be appropriately modest in my criticism. Unlike Jarvis, who feels free to call a middle east expert "pond scum" and someone who has long studied the CIA as engaging in "blood libel."
See, Jarvis's hysteria springs from the fact that he doesn't actually know anything about these topics, so he has to gin up an outrage angle and then work it, work it, work it. And when the people he is attacking respond to his rabid-squirrel act by patiently explaining what they said, he accuses them of being the hysterical ones (e.g., "sputtering, spitting, spewing, and spinning" - Jarvis also has this unfortunate love of alliteration, like an low-rent Bill Safire, but that's the subject of another post.)
I love this criticism, coming from the creator of Entertainment Weekly and the TV critic for TV Guide:
It is as if we have turned over the body politic to a People magazine mindset -- the dark side of People magazine: It's all about personality. It's predicated on the belief that a single famous person actually matters. We might as well pick our winner on American Idol, the way this is going.
So comical that a TV critic thinks politics is shallow. It's like hearing from Courtney Love on the dangers of drug abuse.
Yes, let's consider the source.