You can tell that the blogosphere is reaching the big-time when people start asking bloggers the same dopey questions about gender bias that the MSM endures with respect to its opinion pages. As we all know, Susan Estrich re-entered the consciousness of the opinion world by claiming that Michael Kinsley of the Los Angeles Times is discriminating against women by not publishing enough op-ed pieces written by females. She also threatened Kinsley if he didn’t rectify his alleged sin. Estrich’s evidence appeared to consist of the fact that Kinsley hadn’t published anything written by her, and that about 20 percent of the op-ed pieces run by the L.A. Times are written by women. The first bit of evidence requires no discussion. As to the second, it need only be noted that there is no obvious (nor in my view reasonable) way to create a benchmark against which to measure the “fairness” of the 20 percent figure, were one inclined to do so.
What about the blogosphere? One might think that its susceptibility to this kind of charge would be low. After all, isn’t blogging the ultimate democratic medium? Anyone can be “published” and people constantly rise from total obscurity to relative prominence on the strength of a big story or two, coupled with sustained interesting writing. Indeed, the distinctive thing about blogging, we always thought, is that there are no editors.
It turns out that there are editors though, in the form of bloggers who have achieved success and are thought to be able to transfer that success (or at least its possibility) to others by linking to their work. But the notion that such bloggers are making decisions about linking based on gender, or race for that matter, seems quite far-fetched. Most bloggers are driven by ideological passion. We link (a) to people who break stories that are important in our cosmology, (b) to people we think state our views in new or particularly forceful and effective ways and (c) to people who state opposing views in ways we think need to be refuted or ridiculed. It’s hard to conceive of a successful blogger of any persuasion who would allow considerations of gender to enter into the linking calculus I have just described. We take this stuff too seriously for that.
But our seriousness cuts both ways. Most bloggers are too passionate, and in many cases too busy, to link to a piece that isn’t quite up to par merely in order to practice affirmative action.
UPDATE: Here’s Roger Simon’s take. Roger and I both participated in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and beyond. His participation was more dramatic, I understand, in that he was involved in freedom rides in the south. I marched only in the Washington D.C. area, where I lived. Later I became a civil rights lawyer for the U.S. government.
Roger thinks of the race or gender of those to whom he links only after he has made his decision to link. I’m pretty sure I don’t ever think about gender even ex post facto (and I hope I don’t start doing this now). I have done so on occasion with respect to race in something like the way Roger describes. And I did link once to a piece in NRO on conservative African-American bloggers.
HINDROCKET adds: You guys are purer than me. I never think about race, because 1) I don’t care about it, and 2) I often have no idea what race a particular blogger is. I do think about gender, however, for example when I link to Michelle Malkin, who, as we now know, is considerably more beautiful in person than on television.
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