MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Stoneless Story – The Ellen Goodman Version

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Well, it seems the “Jill Carroll abused by right-wing bloggers” theme is developing into an outright meme. At least that’s the case when a well-known columnist like Ellen Goodman stoops to outright duplicity. (Or sleight of hand, your call.) In this column from the Boston Globe, she moralizes that “Bloggers owe Jill Carroll an apology.”

Do they? This one surely does not, and I’ll stack up my rightwing credentials next to anybody’s. I never wrote a word about Jill Carroll’s release before this week, and nothing that was derogatory. I do find this latest (jealous) attack on the blogosphere to be more than a little farfetched. Let’s take a look:

Remember when a former CBS executive described bloggers as guys in pajamas writing in their living rooms? Well, it seems that many have only one exercise routine: jumping to conclusions.

Starting out by repeating a gratuitous slur is particularly silly when one recalls that the blogosphere was right and the CBS executive wrong. Just like him, Goodman attempts to denigrate that which she can’t refute.

However, unlike the last time we looked at this, Goodman does at least name some names:

The printouts on my desk describe the 28-year-old journalist, a hostage and victim for 82 terrifying days, as something between Patty Hearst and Baghdad Jane, between a traitor and ”Princess Jill.” TBone posted a potshot, calling Carroll ”a liar” and the kidnapping ”a total scam.” PA Pundits said that ”I still just can’t get past her being (for the most part) unharmed.” And Debbie Schlussel called her a ”spoiled brat America-hater.”

At first, the only name I even recognized was Debbie Schlussel, whom I tend to lump in with the fringe, but if she wants to count her, OK. She’s not A-list, but she’s known. And she seems to be examining Carroll’s views and motivations from a reporter’s perspective – I’m not sure what’s wrong with that unless Ellen Goodman somehow believes reporters are above such questions.

But the other two blogs are a stretch (and let’s note they come first). I went looking and found the TBone story and the PAPundits piece. Like I said, I’d never heard of these guys, but wow, what a scoop!

TBone is a blog about fifteen months old that averages around 800 hits a month. No shame there, this blog doesn’t do that much better. He’s skeptical about the story, and that’s all. Hardly a representative of the blogosphere. So I then looked at PAPundits and find they’ve been around less time – since September 2005 – and they’re bigger, averaging better than 8600 hits a month. Goodman doesn’t even bother, however to quote them honestly. Here’s what she quotes:

I still just can’t get past her being (for the most part) unharmed.

(Harsh words indeed.) And here’s what they actually say:

For everyone out there that is whining about how mistreated Jill Carroll has been by the blogs, I say — Fah! — .

The basic fundimental question of why she was released has not been answered. Until we get some answers as to why she was released, pretty much unharmed, after her kidnappers didn’t get what they wanted …

It just doesn’t add up to me, but then I am a distrusting soul.

I really couldn’t care less about the anti-american remarks she made shortly after her release. That really doesn’t phase me and I am willing to let that go. Her remarks in Germany pretty much cancel out her comments anyway.

I still just can’t get past her being (for the most part) unharmed.

Don’t get me wrong, I am HAPPY she’s is fine, I am HAPPY she is alive and free. I just don’t understand why her captors chose to do what they did.

He thinks there’s something fishy about it – maybe there is. I don’t know, and I’m sure Ellen Goodman doesn’t either.

But that’s all she’s got, two bloggers (I don’t count Schlussel), one tiny, one modest. Of course, there’s no story there (not to mention no links; I had to Google them.) So she resorts to this subterfuge:

The political bloggers first flexed their muscle in 2002 when they trumped the MSM — blogspeak for Mainstream Media — by forcing Trent Lott out of the Senate speakership after he toasted the good old segregated days of Strom Thurmond. In 2004, they proved the power of the Internet as a great equalizer when they confronted the house of CBS and Dan Rather over Bush’s military records.

Two years later, we have — ready, fire, aim — the Jill Carroll affair. These attacks raise the question of what bloggery is going to be when it grows up. An Internet op-ed page? Or a polarized, talk-radio food fight?

One must marvel at the chutzpah. It works on at least two levels. First, conflating the injustice of attacking Jill Carroll with the CBS forgeries. I agree that all the evidence suggests that Jill Carroll got lucky and she should be left alone. However, despite Ms. Goodman’s attempt to place Dan Rather and CBS in the same category, it just doesn’t work.

This wasn’t about “Bush’s military records.” This was about Dan Rather and CBS news knowingly using forgeries to attempt to slander a sitting Presidnet of the United States and influence the outcome of an election. This was despicable behavior and Dan Rather, Mary Mapes, and others lost their jobs over it. This simply doesn’t compare to Jill Carroll.

Secondly, the idea that bloggers such as TBone and PAPundits are the ones responsible for the Rather takedown (or Lott’s) is equally ridiculous. It was people like Captain’s Quarters, Hugh Hewitt, Instapundit, INDC Journal, many others I’ve forgotten, but most of all Power Line. These are the big blogs, the influential blogs. These are the blogs that collectively receive hundreds of thousands of hits a month. These are the ones that took down Dan Rather, and these are the ones that matter in the Jill Carroll story. And they aren’t attacking her which Goodman must know, otherwise she’d have cited them instead of small fry. Of course, then she wouldn’t be able to say silly things like this:

The difference between old media and new, MSM and blog, says Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, is the difference between sitting at a restaurant and having your food delivered nicely plated or standing at a buffet nibbling constantly. It’s the 24/7 news cycle brought down to the 604,800 seconds-per-week cycle.\nIn the wake of the Carroll story, a few — far too few — bloggers stopped stocking the buffet long enough to eat their words. But this case provides a juncture for bloggers who want a respected role in the public debate.

Of course, this straw man is knocked down just by the bloggers Goodman cites.

Ellen Goodman has written a scurrilous attack piece. It’s as bad as anything she ‘accuses’ bloggers of doing, worse given its intellectual dishonesty, and for reasons which she only knows but others can guess at. Might they have something to do with the Globe’s financial and circulation woes?

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Written by martinipundit

April 7, 2006 at 12:00 pm

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