Chaos in the service of Order

Pat Ryan

and better policy too.Gulliver


My Google sidebar had a link this AM to Seeing the Forest . From there, Dave Johnson sent me to Swampland , Time Magazine's new blogspot. Their new online effort, although headed up by Ana Marie Cox of Wonkette fame, is still definitely a work-in-progress. One thing that they could work on is to get the site parameters to just accept the fact that Firefox, set up with ad-blocking is never ever going to let them download as much crap to my computer as they deem appropriate. After about ten minutes, I finally had to hit the stop button on that tab.

The post(s) in question are by Internet Tubes newbie and Washington Bureau Chief Jay Carney. No need to bore you with the specifics of Mr. Carney's factually challenged screed and his indignant but hilarious rebuttal of comments in his "correction", other than to highlight his misplaced anger and general outrage at being called out on the facts by the ragtag  pack of commenters. Go have a look. I particularly liked this comment:

I see you still haven't gotten the hang of this "blogging" thing.

For years, we bloggers have heard whiny criticism from the "mainstream media" that we are a bunch of unwashed, uncensored, unedited rumor machines, who are more apt to make flase claims that do some actual cogent and fresh analysis.

Over the years, however, we have developed a self-correction mechanism called "comments," etc. People point ouit your errors, embarrass you, and make you more careful the next time you post something.

In other words, you have to become your own fact-checker and editor.

So, it would behoove you to start checking your facts and backing them up before posting a comment on this blog, rather than whine about criticism you get for posting unsubstantiated BS and your off-the-top-of-your head conventional wisdom.

Don't blame us for correcting you. Aknowledge your errors, or the imprecision of your language, and do better next time.

Posted by: Hesiod  January 23, 2007


Pachacutec , a blogger that hangs on Huffpost and Firedog Lake, is covering the Scooter trial, and takes time out to comment on the people in the room and how sausage get made in real time, by real live paid newsbutchers. He works mightily to understand and dissect the hostility of the paid professionals to the upstart unpaid new-media guys in the room with them. He does a nice quick deconstruction of the situation mentioning various, (mostly defensive) frames made py reporters:

Rashomon:  ........Different people see different things watching the same thing.  The best a reporter can do is be accurate about the facts of what they hear and see so the public can sort out the rest..........but........There is such a thing as truth........

Editors:  This argument says bloggers lack accuracy because they lack supervision:  they lack editors who can support fact checking of what they do..........but........the whole argument about editors misses a larger point.  For sites that allow commenters, our readers are our editor..........Commenters let us know when we've screwed up, and even if our home communities don't, people elsewhere in the blogosphere take shots at us if we get something factually wrong.

Conspiracy:  Members of the establishment media may at times implicitly concede some of our criticisms of their failures on specific stories, but they hasten to argue there is no conspiracy to favor one side or the other in national or political coverage.....but........people watching the same thing in the same room organically influence each other.  If one person has a spontaneous reaction to whatever happens, others are exposed to it.  It may simply be laughter, or surprise, or a quick hypothesis of what may be happening during a sidebar conversation.  The result is we all shape each other's emerging interpretations of what we are seeing, and what it all means.  This tends to support a consensus point of view, a uniformity of understanding.

This last point, is the crux of what many in the press and gummint still don't seem to get. As recently as five years ago, this consensus was pretty much all you got.

When David Broder, Joel Klein, The Oregonian Davids, or certain Democratic Oregon Legislators, wax indignant about the temerity of the rabble in daring to correct them, I can feel empathy, but the fact is that The Facts are going to be a lot more in play than they have been up until now. Policy positions, too, will be endlessly dissected and by this self regulating blob of protoplasm.

The beauty of this system is that Mensa membership is not required. There are quite literally millions of us out here that can and will call bullshit when we see it. Commenters who just throw insults based on previous bias lose credibility quickly.  Most of us know that our credibility and persona as commenters are on the line every time that we post, and most of us value the respect of our peers enough to be cautious in our assertions, even though politeness  and civility are not necessarily prime virtues for many of us. (Yeah, Yeah, I'm clear as to where I stand in this formulation.)

Every professional dislikes being second guessed, but for the Fourth Estate and for our servants in the legislature, a little input from their customers/employers is not a bad thing and they're just going to have to roll up their sleeves and get down here in the mud with the rest of the reality based community. Most elected officials at all levels of gummint are "getting it" and those who don't will ultimately perish like the Dodo.

This is also shaping up to be the best tool that the reality based community has against the resolute propagandists that have shaped public consensus at least since 1980. Lars and Bill and Sean and Rush and Bill Kristol and Frank Luntz ;  Spinners all------ will  see their influence diminish steadily, because the  War  on Reality  is  doomed to fail just like the War on Terror and the War on Drugs.



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    That's Joe Klein not Joel Klein........

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    The one problem we bloggers have with our reality search is our dependence on MSM for information. We can go out of US markets for some, but we're awfully dependent of the ink stained scribblers.

    I like ink. I read the Baker City Herald front to back, that's a bit shorter read than some of you. Maybe the very best thing we can do is take all of it with a large grain of salt.

    Thanks Pat, BTW I've enjoyed Pachecutec's posts

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    1)One encouraging sign that the era of the Lapdogs might be ending happened just this week when Insight Magazine, which has a reputation know......just making up news stories, started pushing the idea that Obama had been educated in a Madrassa. This was picked up by FOX (who added on the lie that the original lie was perpetrated by the Clinton campaign, but unlike the past 13 years, CNN actually sent know....reporters to Indonesia, and the story was debunked.

    2) George mentioned Iran repeatedly in the SOTU speech, and I thought OK, shades of '02-'03. The LA Times today did a huge debunking article where know....actually interviewed the British Officers in theater and were told that the Iranian support up until now has been virtually nonexistent. This wouldn't have happened a few months back either.

    I'm slightly encouraged that the press is at least starting to do their jobs.

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