The Club

In the combox of my Friedersdorf post yesterday, brad said the following:

There’s a reason young Connor started as a summer break replacement for McMegan and eventually took over her gig there, and it ain’t cuz he has a better calculator. At his very “best” he manages to rise to the level of concern troll, that so many little big media lefties on blogs link to him is the same reason they linked to McMegan; social mandates. I retain hope more will recognize him for what he really is, but bros tend to stick together, and he’s in the club.

I definitely think the dynamic he’s describing exists. I’m not a pro journalist and I’m not in the club, but I’ve met some people here and there who are more prominent than I am and who write about politics, and I seriously doubt I haven’t hit the brakes a little when criticizing them as a result. Not entirely consciously, but all the same.

Disappointed with myself as I may be, though, I’m pretty sure I’ve never been quite so obvious about the whole insider/outsider divide as Jonathan Chait was yesterday in his response to Friedersdorf.

Before Chait responds to the one many of you call Young Connor, though, he takes on one self-identified Insomniac Libertarian, a blogger that I think it’s fair to say most of us have never heard of before. In other words, a blogger not in the club. Here’s Chait:

The Insomniac Libertarian, in an item wonderfully headlined “Obama Quisling Jonathan Chait Smears Rand Paul,” complains that my Paul piece “never discloses that [my] wife is an Obama campaign operative.” A brief annotated response:

1. I question the relevance of the charge, since Rand Paul is not running against Obama.

2. In point of fact, my wife is not an Obama campaign operative and has never worked for Obama’s campaign, or his administration, or volunteered for his campaign, or any campaign, and does not work in politics at all.

3. I question the headline labeling me an “Obama quisling,” a construction that implies that I have betrayed Obama, which seems to be the opposite of the Insomniac Libertarian’s meaning.

4. For reasons implied by points one through three, I urge the Insomniac Libertarian to familiarize himself with some of the science linking sleep deprivation to impaired brain function.

Pretty funny, right? Cutting. And that’s fine — that’s Chait’s style, often — or at least it is when he’s writing about conservatives and libertarians.

But then he turns to Friedersdorf, and suddenly all that piss and vinegar evaporates into a cordial deference to good-faith divergence of opinion. This is the most he can muster:

Friedersdorf’s view [of Ayn Rand] is certainly far more nuanced and considerably more positive than mine. He’s a nice, intelligent person and a good writer, but we’re not going to agree on this.

Nuanced, positive, intelligent and nice! It’s a good thing, isn’t it, to be in the club?

80 replies
  1. 1
    Jerzy Russian says:

    he takes on one self-identified Insomniac Libertarian, a blogger that I think it’s fair to say most of us have never heard of before.

    I was hoping to keep it that way, but then you came along and spoiled it.

  2. 2
    Mike in NC says:

    I urge the Insomniac Libertarian to familiarize himself with some of the science linking sleep deprivation to impaired brain function.

    Is this why people are watching FOX News at 3 AM?

  3. 3
    piratedan says:

    let me know when they give you the secret handshake, then you’ll know that you’ve made it!

    as bad as these guys are (and for the most part, they suck ass with a few notable exceptions, Chait, Krugman, Pierce and Fallows) they gently steer opinion of the folks that read one source a day and then consider themselves informed.

    What I would love to see is someone finally tell us who the people are that actujally shape the news that is being presented in the visual format. Namely the producers who run the network news and how their biases are perpetuated on the masses in shaping and forming their opinions. The deal used to be one of terse reporting of the facts and images (or maybe that was how I perceived it in the 60’s and 70’s) but nowadays, we have so much news that it’s being ‘filtered” for us in ways that frighten me. Stories that I pick up on the web aren’t even a blip on the main news outlets, it’s as if there’s not enough time to broadcast all of the news even though that’s what they do 24/7.

    Who are the people who are making the decisions as to what is newsworthy… THAT club is the one that needs some exposure imho.

  4. 4
    different-church-lady says:

    Why do you think this contrast is about “the club”? One writer is sane and articulate, although wrong about many many things. The other is unhinged. Why should Chait treat them the same?

  5. 5
    kc says:

    Well, to be realistic, one guy called him a name and one didn’t.

  6. 6

    Friedersdorf is a stopped clock, and he’s going to stay that way as long as he remains essentially incurious about the most powerful system of creating knowledge we have, scientific and technical research. I have had one exchange with him, back at his Culture 11 days. I blogged about the fact that the first few days of the site had zero about science. He wrote to me complaining that I hadn’t given the site enough chance. I replied that I would be happy to check back, and did. The place never managed to be more than an easy-listening equivalent for would be hipster conservatives, no science, a little bad tech writing, pffft. I can’t take him seriously if he doesn’t take the world (the actual material, real world) seriously.

    But there is this: he isn’t nearly as influential as, say, McArdle was at her apex, and hasn’t (at least ISTM) gained much traction over time, despite getting props from folks like Sullivan. So while he gets taken more seriously than he should (a regular gig at the Atlantic does that), I think we may be seeing the limits of in-group membership.

  7. 7
    raven says:

    @Tom Levenson: This McArdle person that everyone seems to care so much about HAD and apex?

  8. 8
    WJS says:

    Dammit, these people socialize with one another. Do you know how difficult it is to make small talk when you’ve just let a yellow stream of invective fly across the room onto the leg of a man who occasionally smiles at your wife?

    Oh, and the idea that the blogosphere is merit-based is an idea that died about the same time Kanye called out President Bush. These good people are discussing things above the understanding of you lot.

  9. 9
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @kc:

    Well, there you go. He was not only called a name, he was called a name that, as Chait points out, is confusing in its meaning.

  10. 10
    piratedan says:

    @raven: well so much of her career was simply an ongoing slog of nadir….

  11. 11
    the Conster says:

    @different-church-lady:

    This. One’s an uninformed idiot and deserves to be mocked with total contempt, and the other is earnest but misguided. It’s not about being in a club, it’s determining who’s acting in good faith.

  12. 12
    Sly says:

    This seems to me to be more a byproduct of the Online Disinhibition Effect. Of course Chait is going to be more deferential toward the motives of someone who isn’t a rather blatant troll. Friedersdorf may have views that are a combination of inept and shallow – of course he does… he’s a libertarian – but he’s not some third-rate firebrand-wannabe whose primary purpose is to show the rest of the horde how pure he is by punching up at his betters from the cover of anonymity. What makes the difference in responses so striking is that shitheads like “The Insomniac Libertarian” almost never merit a response from those they attack in the first place.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Being admitted to the In Crowd has little to do with being competent. Or nice, either. You don’t really earn your way in.

    It’s sort of like religion: Do you earn your way to Heaven or is it given to you?

  15. 15
    gussie says:

    @different-church-lady: Because ‘nice,’ ‘intelligent’, and ‘good.’ Yikes. Chait can write; why write about the unhinged guy, then dribble that yawning grayness at the sane one? In fact, why dribble that at all. That reads more like a Bar Mitzvah thank you note than an online post. It’s so nice and intelligent and good.

  16. 16
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @piratedan:

    Who are the people who are making the decisions as to what is newsworthy… THAT club is the one that needs some exposure imho.

    That is indeed an excellent question, one we need an answer to. I fear it boils down, ultimately, to what attracts eyeballs, and therefore generates ratings, and therefore is used to lure our true customers, the advertisers, to purchase airtime, which generates the revenue that pays our salaries and makes our MBA shitstain overlords happy.

  17. 17
    ruemara says:

    I would welcome any offers of membership in the club. They don’t ever seem to be lacking in anything, thanks to the secret handshake. Certainly there are no standards of wrong.

  18. 18
    Chris says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    I would agree with this. They pick their own people according to their standards of who they think is or isn’t going to perpetuate their mindset.

  19. 19
    agrippa says:

    It seems that ‘Washington’ is much like any other community. In that it has a Club. I would be surprised if it did not.

  20. 20
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I fear it boils down, ultimately, to what attracts eyeballs, and therefore generates ratings, and therefore is used to lure our true customers, the advertisers, to purchase airtime, which generates the revenue that pays our salaries and makes our MBA shitstain overlords happy.

    I think it also boils down to who it’s going to piss off. Don’t want to be reporting some news that’s going to inconvenience people who are too rich, powerful and connected… or, more to the point, the people who have them over to their dinners in Georgetown and country clubs in Virginia. (After all, those are the people they depend on to report the insider “news” to them).

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I followed the link, and the comments are overrun by vile Randite groupies defending the foul bitch at every turn.

  22. 22
    maya says:

    @ruemara:

    . They don’t ever seem to be lacking in anything, thanks to the secret handshake.

    I believe it’s more of a pinkie-pull.

  23. 23
    Chris T. says:

    @piratedan:

    Stories that I pick up on the web aren’t even a blip on the main news outlets, it’s as if there’s not enough time to broadcast all of the news even though that’s what they do 24/7.

    But that’s not what they do. What they do is polish one or two turds to a glossy sheen, and then broadcast those over and over for 24 hours. And, as Villago Delenda Est notes, those items are chosen not for “news-worthiness”, but rather to keep their customers—who are not their viewers—happy.

    (Some decades ago it was different, although not by as much as some of us curmudgeonly types might wish. The primary change is that news is less often treated as a loss leader.)

  24. 24
    divF says:

    @Chris:
    The principle here is the same as the one that informed the elite of a century ago to treat single young women with a minimal level of courtesy, as you never know who they will end up marrying.

  25. 25
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris T.:

    The primary change is that news is less often treated as a loss leader.

    Nowadays it had better be a profit center, or heads will roll.

  26. 26
    Ben Cisco says:

    Friesderp is thoroughly unimpressive; aside from that, I cannot add anything to what has already been said about him.

    My basic take on the whole “news” thing is that I EXPECT this now, for the reasons already given above. Sloppy, warmed over pablum designed to sate the appetites of those with neither the time or (in some cases) the slightest inclination to become genuinely informed about anything. It’s become just like any other mass-marketed product – over-saturated, aimed for the lowest common denominator possible, and pretty much not worth what little time is invested in it. You can learn more from this blog in one month than you would if you spent the rest of your life watching newscasts.

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: FWIW Burning Tree is in Maryland.

  28. 28
    Chet says:

    Yes, clearly nobody who misses a chance to refer to Connor Friedersdorf as “Blah-nor Frieders-dork” is worth reading.

  29. 29
    Chris says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    … country clubs in Virginia AND Maryland.

  30. 30
    dedc79 says:

    @Chris: It’s not all that different from the fawning way ESPN’s “journalists” and anchors cover the sports that the station also broadcasts.

    Except at least in that instance it’s only sports that are at issue, not the future of the country.

  31. 31
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Ben Cisco: Because, as has been said so often, with TV news, you, the watcher, are not the customer. You are the product.

  32. 32
    MarkusOfarkus says:

    Speaking of blogger clubs…

    http://gawker.com/here-is-the-.....-530195415

  33. 33
    negative 1 says:

    @WJS: You joke, but it’s probably true. I think Elias kind of nails it, actually. It’s easy to say this stuff until you meet a person, then you are far less likely to. It’s human nature.
    It’s why every commenter on Red State talks about hunting liberals and wants to open concentration camps to house them, however in real life you could probably have a beer with one and get along. It’s also what leads to ‘he’s not like the other ones’ syndrome, also.
    The question is, and I’m legitimately asking, do you think this is better? Or is it better to remain totally anonymous as a blogger/reporter and be able to spew invective without consequence? Both would seem to have ups and downs.

  34. 34
    MattR says:

    I think my favorite comment over at the Chait piece is from a Rand defender. They had initially said “If you force me to turn over money so you can hand it to someone else, that IS theft.” When someone was making fun of the idea of taxation as theft, they responded with the following.

    Taxation may or may not be theft, it depends on what you spend the money on.

    Combined I think those comments perfectly encapsulate the current liberatrian mindset. Taxation is theft when you use it on things I don’t like.

  35. 35
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @WJS: I know you went all snarky, but your first statement had a lot of truth in it. They socialize. It tends to make things very awkward when you’re in the same room with someone you just called a dumb shit. It makes things much smoother when you just say “he’s wrong.”

    Unless it’s just someone truly obnoxious, I wouldn’t call someone an idiot at work. In part because these have a tendency to come back and bite you in the ass when that person solves something you didn’t.

  36. 36
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @negative 1: I like the I.F. Stone model, but nobody practices that any more.

  37. 37
    rea says:

    Naturally, Chait deals more harshly with the guy who called him a Nazi traitor than with the guy who simply talks nonsense about policy.

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MattR:

    The self-awareness fail is impressive with that crowd. Let’s take it to it’s logical extreme, which is the old ‘steaks for bucks” thing, and you’ve got Ronald Reagan’s proud bigotry on display for all to see.

  39. 39
    pokeyblow says:

    @raven: Finding the will, even for despair, becomes more difficult.

    The emptiness envelops, the emptiness permeates.

  40. 40

    I think Chris Hayes describes the dynamic in Twilight of the Elites where you have people in particular elites look far more sympathetically on each other because they do know each other socially or have had passing acquaintance. This isn’t cronyism and it isn’t unnatural – I don’t doubt that I would find it more difficult to say something cutting about McArdle or Brooks if I knew them – and I don’t doubt that columnists whose work I really don’t like are very genial, decent people when you talk to them in private.

    But this isn’t a defense anyone else in any other line of work would consider acceptable – when your analysis is incredibly wrong, really self-serving, very sloppy (I still don’t understand how voting for Obama despite drone strikes and Guantanamo is amoral, while voting for Gary Johnson is the righteous thing to do when Johnson displayed support for both, even wanting to keep Guantanamo open) and displays an attitude that’s callous (and I think Friedersdorf’s work on student loans, insurance for birth control, and gun regulation can be said to be such), saying “he’s a really really nice guy” does not make the work any less problematic, and, of course, it’s something that Ayn Rand would have scorned with her baslisk stare.

  41. 41
    liberal says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Agreed.

  42. 42
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Why do some of you guys say “combox”?

  43. 43
    Yatsuno says:

    Note to self: stop reading comments. On Gawker specifically but really just about anywhere. Oi.

  44. 44
    liberal says:

    @MattR:

    They had initially said “If you force me to turn over money so you can hand it to someone else, that IS theft.”

    The #1 problem with these people (right-wing libertarians generally) is that while not all property is theft, a large class of property really is theft.

    Sadly, most people of my ilk don’t get that either.

  45. 45
    anthrosciguy says:

    @WJS:

    It’s more “whose link might drive traffic my way?”.

  46. 46

    @the Conster: Does Conor write in good faith? I’m not saying he definitely doesn’t, I’m just not sure that he does.

  47. 47
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @FlipYrWhig: It’s a way of signaling membership in the club.

  48. 48

    @the Conster:

    It’s not about being in a club, it’s determining who’s acting in good faith.

    Is there any evidence that Connor Friedersdorf is acting in good faith? My impression is that he’s pretty much like all the other Libertarians: deciding what he wants, finding an argument that gets it, and ignoring any evidence that clearly contradicts his position. He may be nicer about it and do a better job of camouflaging his dishonesty, but he’s still basically dishonest.

    ETA: Damn you SatanicPanic.

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @FlipYrWhig: m_c used to do it. She also used it as her reason for not attempting to approximate standard English. “cudlip, this a combox not academic journal WAI julian something about slurry pony club proslytetize not a racist unless stupid is a race. /spit.”

  50. 50
    Maxwell James says:

    I definitely think the dynamic he’s describing exists.

    Of course it exists. Reciprocal cooperation between organisms that frequently interact is very well established in scientific literature, as well as through game theory.

    So it’s entirely predictable that media insiders will be nice to each other as a way of protecting their own self-interest and that of their community. I’m skeptical there’s anything to be done about this, however – it’s just human nature.

  51. 51
    Heliopause says:

    It’s a good thing, isn’t it, to be in the club?

    No doubt. And to illustrate the point this post on four separate occasions refers to individuals by derisive nicknames. Subtle yet powerful blogging.

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Heliopause: And?

  53. 53
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Heliopause: Actually, it looks like EI only once used an arguably derisive nickname. He noted that some people here use “Young Conor” as a nickname for Friedersdorf. The other instances were in the block quotes and were germane to the subject of the post. What was your point?

  54. 54
    aimai says:

    @negative 1: I don’t think you “could have a beer with one and get along” at all–I think you could have a beer with one and he’d keep his lip buttoned, for a while, because he knows the shit he says is assholish and its hard to be blatantly and obviously an asshole to someone’s face. I’ve had the experience, as a Jew, of talking to someone who didn’t know I was Jewish and who said jaw droppingly horrible things about Jews, or Liberals, to my face because they were in their “safe space.” I think a lot of those red state commenters would be exactly the same–they would say horrible things to your face during the beer fest if they thought you were a conservative. They would be only slightly more reticent if they knew you were a liberal.

  55. 55
    Yatsuno says:

    @aimai: I’ve had that experience but from the gay perspective. Unless you know what you’re looking for it’s not obvious I’m gay, so I’ve given several cases of foot in mouth disease before. It helps if I can hide the shock and disgust until a more private moment, but sometimes I just come out and call them a blooming idiot. You’re right in that it is definitely not a comfortable thing.

  56. 56
    Ted & Hellen says:

    The Beltway Press Club is the same in principle as the BJ Kool Kids Club. All cliques operate on the same mechanisms.

    Small minded, insecure tools who desperately need to belong find a reason to bond, then begin repeating each other and taking on the same opinions and worldview while finding reasons to exclude “outsiders” and control their environment, or what has now been made a “safe space.”

    Same deal as with Aimai’s stealth Jew-hater above, who believed itself to be in a “safe space” for bigotry.

    Of course Aimai, as an extremely unself aware Bot Kool Kid has no idea she is, in her own special way, the same as her Jew-hater.

  57. 57
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Yatsuno: I’ve been mistaken for a lesbian dozens of times. To be fair, it was almost always in a gay bar (my sister is gay, and we did a lot of clubbing when we were both single), and I am one of, like, five straight women south of the Mason-Dixon line who does not wear makeup. And I often wear Birkenstocks because they make my feet happy. But no one ever dumped on the breeder class in my presence!

  58. 58
    sharl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Awesome. I often miss m_c, even taking into account the total state of confusion she often left me in after posting frontier-gibberish-like rants of the type you posted. I think maybe she could tune that stuff up – tone down the totally indecipherable gibberish, especially – and have something with stand-up comedy potential. Like Firesign Theatre’s ‘Nick Danger, Third Eye’, maybe?

    ND (picks up phone): Nick Danger, Third Eye.
    Caller: Can I have a pizza to go, with no anchovies?
    ND: No anchovies? You got the wrong guy. I spell my name, ‘DANGER’! (hangs up)
    Caller: What?

  59. 59
    Yatsuno says:

    @Betty Cracker: I have a feeling you got a lot of phone numbers. :) I stopped making any assumptions about sexuality from appearance a long time ago. It gets into ugly situations really fast.

  60. 60
    burnspbesq says:

    @jamick6000:

    Chait blows.

    Exactly the kind of insightful analysis we’ve come to expect from you.

  61. 61
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Exactly the kind of insightful analysis we’ve come to expect from you.

    Because deeply thought-out, insult and snark free analysis is what Balloon Juice posts and comment threads are all about.

  62. 62
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yatsuno: Free advice: never make a comment indicating that you believe. Woman to be pregnant unless she tells you that she is or you see an actual baby coming out of her. I watched someone make that mistake. Oh boy.

  63. 63
    kwAwk says:

    I think that Chait is following the courtesy of responding in line with the tone of how he was addressed. He certainly doesn’t shy away from his point when dealing with CF, he just makes his point in a more polite manner….

    But the upshot is that I strongly dispute Friedersdorf’s premise that Rand’s theories are a variant of democracy, any more than Marx’s are. In fact, I find the existence of powerful elected officials who praise her theories every bit as disturbing to contemplate as elected officials who praise Marxism. Even if you take care to note some doctrinal differences with Rand, in my view we are talking about a demented, hateful cult leader and intellectual fraud. People who think she had a lot of really good ideas should not be anywhere near power.

    I do think that Chait could have gone a little bit further in refuting some of CF’s actual claims.

    When CF tries to make the point that Rand Paul believes in keeping Medicare and Social Security but only in making in efficient, I believe based upon Rand’s general beliefs he is using code language for privatization of both programs, which in essence ends them. Or at least turns Social Security into an over glorified 401k and Medicare into Maybe-care.

    When CF talks about the founder’s distrust of democracy the greatest threat leading to things like the electoral college, the election of Senators by the legislators and other limits on democracy were designed to keep democracy from taking its course especially on the issue of slavery. It wasn’t that ending slavery was a bad democratic outcome, it was simply one that the southern states, and a lot of the founding fathers didn’t want.

    The notion that the President isn’t elected by the people is also a rather bogus argument. Though the Constitution provides for state legislature control of how electoral votes have been allocated, this provision was basically thrown out by the states within the lifetimes of the founders as no state has used anything other than popular vote to allocate electoral college votes since the 1830s. It may have been what the founders intended but the people and the states rejected that thinking almost immediately.

  64. 64
    kwAwk says:

    I think that Chait is following the courtesy of responding in line with the tone of how he was addressed. He certainly doesn’t shy away from his point when dealing with CF, he just makes his point in a more polite manner….

    But the upshot is that I strongly dispute Friedersdorf’s premise that Rand’s theories are a variant of democracy, any more than Marx’s are. In fact, I find the existence of powerful elected officials who praise her theories every bit as disturbing to contemplate as elected officials who praise Marxism. Even if you take care to note some doctrinal differences with Rand, in my view we are talking about a demented, hateful cult leader and intellectual fraud. People who think she had a lot of really good ideas should not be anywhere near power.

    I do think that Chait could have gone a little bit further in refuting some of CF’s actual claims.

    When CF tries to make the point that Rand Paul believes in keeping Medicare and Social Security but only in making in efficient, I believe based upon Rand’s general beliefs he is using code language for privatization of both programs, which in essence ends them. Or at least turns Social Security into an over glorified 401k and Medicare into Maybe-care.

    When CF talks about the founder’s distrust of democracy the greatest threat leading to things like the electoral college, the election of Senators by the legislators and other limits on democracy were designed to keep democracy from taking its course especially on the issue of slavery. It wasn’t that ending slavery was a bad democratic outcome, it was simply one that the southern states, and a lot of the founding fathers didn’t want.

    The notion that the President isn’t elected by the people is also a rather bogus argument. Though the Constitution provides for state legislature control of how electoral votes have been allocated, this provision was basically thrown out by the states within the lifetimes of the founders as no state has used anything other than popular vote to allocate electoral college votes since the 1830s. It may have been what the founders intended but the people and the states rejected that thinking almost immediately.

  65. 65
    Mandalay says:

    If you consider the context, I think that this remark by Maine’s Republican governor is far worse….

    Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday said a Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Troy Jackson of Aroostook County, “claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”

    Jim Allen is a very minor official who got caught writing something inappropriate in a private email, but Governor LePage made his remarks to reporters. That really lowers the bar on what is acceptable for politicians to say.

    I guess I’m sounding prudish, but what is acceptable in a private email (or on BJ) is very different to what should be said by politicians to reporters.

  66. 66
    WJS says:

    @negative 1: I @Belafon (formerly anonevent): None of these people are ever going to offend someone who is their social equal, and their social circle means more than their readership.

    Who operates in a way where they value their readers more than their social circle? I cannot cite any examples.

  67. 67
    Mandalay says:

    @Mandalay:

    I guess I’m sounding prudish, but what is acceptable in a private email (or on BJ) is very different to what should be said by politicians to reporters

    My last sentence was very badly worded….I should have just said that the gravity of Governor LePage making his comments to reporters is far worse than a minor official making comments in a private email.

  68. 68
    TG Chicago says:

    Tangent: I never see this “why can’t people be more mean?” talk in a Greenwald thread. There I hear a lot of “why does GG always demonize people he disagrees with?”.

    So I think it’s also about whether you’re demonizing the “right” people. Some people think that Friedersdorf should be demonized; others don’t.

  69. 69
    WJS says:

    @TG Chicago: “why can’t people be more… honest given the information in front of them?”

    Social links and status mean more, it would appear.

  70. 70
    lol says:

    @TG Chicago:

    That’s because Greenwald immediately leaps to insults and personal attacks whenever challenged. He’s a two year old gleefully pissing in all directions.

  71. 71
    TG Chicago says:

    @lol: One could easily say that about anybody who writes in a less-than-genteel manner.

    If someone goes into a column liking the subject of a Greenwald column more than they like Greenwald, they’re going to come out of it complaining that Greenwald engaged in too many vicious, personal attacks. And this is a valid criticism of Greenwald’s writing.

    It’s also why some writers choose not to be very snarky or mean. They don’t want to deal with this criticism that Greenwald gets.

  72. 72
    Donald says:

    I was insulted by Greenwald once in an email exchange. But this was also back in the days when he still thought Bush was some uniquely horrible aberration and that’s why America was distrusted so much. I pointed out that to people whose loved ones had died under sanctions in Iraq or in East Timor under five successive Presidents or in Vietnam or Central America, the difference between Bush and some of his predecessors probably didn’t seem that great. He got mad, for some reason. I still kept reading him. Nowadays I think he’d agree with me.

    I’m not crazy about GG’s personality, but his blog is more worth reading than most blogs, and certainly more worth reading than most of his critics.

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    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TG Chicago: I did not see this post as suggesting that people be more mean. I saw it as pointing out how an in-group member criticizes another member as opposed to a non-member. YMMV.

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    El Cid says:

    @kwAwk: Marx actually had a lot of insightful things to say on many, many issues, including being intimately familiar with many issues. Nothing, nothing similar can be said of the trivial nitwit Ayn Rand who simply embodied a stereotypeable world view.

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    TG Chicago says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Agreed. My point is that Greenwald criticizes all the same way (for instance, he’s personal friends with Sullivan, yet is just as harsh when he disagrees with him as anybody else). Yet he’s often denounced in these parts for doing so.

    My point: Don’t chastise Chait for having two different standards while chastising Greenwald for having only one(*).

    I’ve never gotten the vibe that BJ FPers or commenters have been generally against “cutting” commentary, such as Chait’s in re: Insomniac Libertarian. As long as they’re “cutting” the right people. When that type of commentary is directed at someone they like, suddenly we see criticism of that type of commentary.

    (*)(to be fair, I’m painting with a broad brush — I don’t have examples handy of any individual being hypocritical here, so I’m speaking in generalities)

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    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TG Chicago: FWIW I saw what Chait did as attacking someone who attacked him and disagreeing with someone else. Two different standards are completely appropriate in my view. I don’t want to turn this into a GG thread but a one size fits all response pattern to disagreement might not be the world’s best policy. Then again, he is a polemicist not a reporter, pundit, or analyst. In my view, polemics have limited value. That, in a nutshell, is where I stand on GG.

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    StringOnAStick says:

    @Betty Cracker: I get the mistaken sexuality stuff too, and always have. I have a deep voice for a woman and I’m into outdoorsy stuff, plus I used to be a geologist and worked/lived in some fairly serious ‘roughing it’ contexts. If I describe some of those experiences to the women I work with now, they look at me like I just landed from Mars. Jeez ladies, snakes aren’t that bad.

    One advantage of living in sporty Colorado is it isn’t that uncommon to not wear make up or wear Birks, though the local fave is Chacos, at least if you’re more the rocky climby/mt bikey sort. I do, however, not live in Focus on the Family-land*.

    * thanks be to FSM.

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    Pooh says:

    What’s the complaint here? Chait’s devestation of CF is more not less brutal for its substantiveness. The blogger went playground, Chait blew him a raspberry, not sure what the problem is.

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    brad says:

    Well, shucks.
    I remember the club phenomenon well, saw too much of it back when I was running Fire Megan McArdle. McMegan would say something stupid, ignorant, borderline racist (for real, she’s worse than you think, even if your opinion is low), and Matty Y and Ezra Klein would look the other way and then link to her saying something stupid about something less important. Ezra started taking her on a little once he got a bit bigger, I suppose to his credit, but the underlying point is networking knows no political boundaries or limits. The flaw of being in the club is it shows that there’s a real tension for its members between career and principle.
    Not that in the real world such dilemmas aren’t everywhere, but still, when you’re excusing McMegan and taking young Conor seriously in case one day he ends up on the NYT OpEd and you’re on his good side if he does…. you’re compromised.

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    brad says:

    And as to the idea that socialization moderates opposition, that’s true to an extent, most of the time most of us aren’t going to be dicks to our friends. But coming from a background in academia I can tell you it’s possible to engage in spirited disagreement with people you socialize with, even while socializing.
    The club isn’t simply about being more considerate of people you know, it’s about pulling your punches for people in your career network for mutual benefit, and that, to me, is why it impeaches the work of people like Chait or Yglesias.

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