Today the Star Tribune publishes an op-ed column that represents some kind of a new low on a page that has plumbed the depths at regular intervals. The column is “Article on blogs should have said more on political divide.”
The column by one Tamara Baker criticizes the March 9 article by Star Tribune reporter Eric Black on blogs. Baker’s column tars us and Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs as tools of Republicans who seek to destroy “independent journalism.” The focus is a little blurry, but you’ll get the gist: we’re like Stalin, we’re like Hitler. How about Ghengis Khan? Or Pol Pot? Somehow, I sense that Baker’s educational background may have limited her creativity in formulating the terms of her abuse:
Black’s article also didn’t mention “Little Green Footballs,” a right-wing blog whose founder, Charles Johnson, claims that he and not John Hinderaker’s PowerLineBlog was the first to lead the charge against Dan Rather last fall.
Well, we’re off to a bad start. This is of course false and Charles has never said it, but hey, this is the Star Tribune opinion page where facts are decidedly not stubborn things. From here the descent is precipitous:
While PowerLine tries to sound calmly professional, the Little Green Footballs blog is much more vicious in its conservatism. Its posters and readers are known for things such as cheering the death of peace activist Rachel Corrie and making bigoted comments about female Muslim tsunami victims.
The big thing left out, though Black hinted at it with his mention of right-wing blogs hounding the Star Tribune, is that the right and left halves of the blogging world have very different goals.
As Garance Franke-Ruta noted in a recent American Prospect, “The targets of the liberal blogosphere are conservative activists; the target of the conservative blogosphere is the free and independent press itself, just as it has been for conservative activists since the ’60s.”
David Brock, a former conservative activist who now runs a media-watchdog group called Media Matters for America, agrees with Franke-Ruta that Republicans’ ultimate aim is the destruction of all objective reporting, so that they can say whatever they want, true or not, and get away with it: “Their explicit goal is to get us to the point where there are blue [state] facts and red [state] facts.”
In other words, Republicans for decades have wanted to control the press much as Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler did, by attacking and attempting to discredit independent journalism, and for them blogs are just the latest tool in their war. That’s definitely newsworthy, but outside of the blogosphere, few publications will dare state this.
Baker may have a point. Many publications are indeed reluctant to equate Republicans with Hitler and Stalin, or to state that bloggers like Charles and us are the tools of totalitarians. Many publications have a vestigial respect for facts. Many publications undertake a responsibility to link serious accusations with facts. The Star Tribune has left their company.
HINDROCKET adds: A few quick comments: First, neither we nor Charles have ever claimed to be the “first to lead the charge against Dan Rather.” As we have said countless times, and as the first installment of our “Sixty-First Minute” made clear at 7:51 on the morning of September 9, 2004, the first to point out the documents’ suspicious nature was “Buckhead,” a lawyer from Atlanta named Harry MacDougald, who posted on Free Republic.
Second, what’s with “John Hinderaker’s Power Line”? People with even a nodding acquaintance with the blogosphere know that there are three of us.
But, however–nevertheless–I think the Trunk is too hard on Ms. Baker, whoever she may be. I like her acknowledgement that we “tr[y] to sound calmly professional.” Actually, I can’t quite see the difference between “tries to sound calmly professional” and “sounds calmly professional.” Or, for that matter, “is calmly professional.” Whatever. Coming from a lefty with tinfoil hat tendencies, I’m happy to take it as a compliment and move on.
UPDATE: The estimable Charles Johnson weighs in here:
An idiot at the Minneapolis Star Tribune attacks Power Line and LGF today, in a blatantly dishonest “opinion” piece…After praising Daily Kos and Eschaton (two of the most hate-filled lefty blogs), Baker writes: