Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What is the opposite of "reporter?"

As many already know, the Washington Post has hired a right winger to blog on the WaPo website, in an apparent effort to balance out Dan Froomkin (and to some extent, Dana Milbank). This move has properly unleashed a 'Firestorm' that should only get louder with time, since there is no indication that they are planning to bring on an actual lefty.

I'm disgusted, of course. But if you squint and tilt your head just right when you look at this move, it tells us something significant about right wingers in general and their lackeys at the Post in particular.

First, note that this development was telegraphed a week ago -- here's an exchange between editorial page editor Fred Hiatt and a reader:

Washington, D.C.: I've noticed The Post has embraced blogs in a big way. Most seem to be opinion, not straight news, which I guess is what blogs everywhere tend to be. Some are on the left (Froomkin), some in the middle (the debate), but I haven't seen any that are consistently right-of-center. What do you think of the blogs on the site now (Achenblog, debate, etc.)? Do you read them? And are the any plans to add a conservative blog?

Fred Hiatt: I don't oversee this Web site--but I believe the people who do agree with your point and are in the process of looking for a right-of-center blog. I think it would be a good idea.
And it isn't just the toadies running the Post who think more shilling is necessary -- their masters do, too.

But this move begs a larger question: are Dana Milbank and Dan Froomkin left wingers?

Milbank says he gets hammered from both sides. Here's what Froomkin himself says:

Regular readers know that my column is first and foremost a daily anthology of works by other journalists and bloggers. When my voice emerges, it is often to provide context for those writings and spot emerging themes. Sometimes I do some original reporting, and sometimes I share my insights. The omnipresent links make it easy for readers to assess my credibility.

There is undeniably a certain irreverence to the column. But I do not advocate policy, liberal or otherwise. My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny. I was prepared to take the same approach with John Kerry, had he become president.

This column’s advocacy is in defense of the public’s right to know what its leader is doing and why. To that end, it calls attention to times when reasonable, important questions are ducked; when disingenuous talking points are substituted for honest explanations; and when the president won’t confront his critics -- or their criticisms -- head on.

The journalists who cover Washington and the White House should be holding the president accountable. When they do, I bear witness to their work. And the answer is for more of them to do so -- not for me to be dismissed as highly opinionated and liberal because I do.

And that, my friends, truly is the relevant distinction: by bringing in an avowed right winger to balance out Froomkin, they are admitting that "accountable" is now the antonym of "conservative."

So let's make some lemonade from these journalistic lemons. You want to call accountability a liberal value? Fine by us. Want to call transparency a liberal value? Terrific. The more explicit we make the distinction those values on the one hand, and the sycophanitc stenography the conservatives favor on the other, the better I like it.

And that suggests another way to get some mileage here. The conservatives have has a monopoly on certain rhetorical high ground by calling themselves "values voters." Well I have values, too -- including the ones Froomkin mentioned. So call me a values voter -- I value accountability, and I value transparency.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Opposition is a form of EMPOWERMENT to the side you are opposing. It gives legitimacy to their arguments by saying they are worth debating. You are smarter than that. I like your style bluememe, but I don't understand why you keep legitimizing arguments that are meaningless. Comment on their absurdity without feeling the need to refute that which holds no water. Go for it.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

It's like Mallard Fillmore, the conservative/reactionary/pary-line hack job capitalizing on desire of papers to keep running Dooesbury by balancing it with the duck.

In this case, the duck is an actual human being, but, as they say, if it quacks like a duck.

8:55 PM  

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