The National Journal’s Daniel Glover is a fan of blogs and is the author of the Journal’s “Beltway Blogroll” column; blogs are his beat. Yesterday he devoted his column to the bloggers’ coverage (including our own) of the Alito hearings: “The courtship of the blogosphere.”
Writing as a friendly critic, Glover criticizes the bloggers’ coverage of the hearings. One of Glover’s criticisms was our hosts’ decision not to invite any good left-wing bloggers. I asked him to elaborate a bit on the criticism he intimates in his column, and he kindly responded yesterday by email:
Too many of the bloggers, however, seemed to be just parroting what the officials said, without much thought as to whether those thoughts were “blog-worthy.” Had those bloggers not been in Washington but watched the officials on C-Span, I am convinced that they would have been more selective about what they wrote. That’s really where I was coming from in my piece: The bloggers behaved differently than usual — at least differently than I’ve seen in the past — and I think that’s because the [Republican National Committee/Senate Republican Conference] made them feel special.
I have the benefit of having talked to officials in both parties who have been quite honest about how they see blogs as a tool for “reaching the base.” They GOP in particular sees blogs as the next talk radio. Good for them, and more power to them in trying to achieve their goals. But despite the partisan leanings of blogs on both sides of the political spectrum (which don’t bother me in the least), I see so much more potential for them than that. I absolutely do not want to see blogs develop the same weaknesses as the MSM, and that very well could happen if they let themselves be wooed by the establishment.
I will say that as much as “objective” reporters might have loved the kind of access you all had last week, I doubt that many, if any, of them would have accepted an invitation to such a forum, precisely for the reason Steve Outing gave [as mentioned in Glover’s column]. These kinds of events need to be opened to a broader array of bloggers.
I’m not saying Kos or some of the over-the-top bloggers should be invited because they would just make a scene. But why not Josh Marshall or Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft? Or someone like Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber? Or the Bull Moose (Marshall Wittmann) or New Donkey (Ed Kilgore). There are some good bloggers out there who do not agree with the GOP but who I think have earned the right to be invited to cover such events.
And the best thing is how the bloggers on both sides would benefit from the experience. People can learn a lot from spending time with those who challenge their thinking. That’s true for bloggers as much as journalists.
Glover’s column includes a few kind words for our coverage. In addition to reporting the most interesting of the comments of the Senators who made themselves available to us, in my coverage I was trying to supplement and broaden the focus of the information on offer from the mainstream media. I continue to be struck by the media’s lack of interest in such interesting sources as former United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Robert Del Tufo, Yale Law Professor Jay Pottenger, and Judge Alito’s former law clerks.
Coincidentally, Charles Hurt reports in this morning’s Washington Times: “Democrats abort deal on Alito vote.” We previewed Senator Frist’s reaction (reported in the Times article today) here a week ago:
The entire Senate will take up the nomination no later than Jan. 25 and will remain on it until Judge Alito’s nomination is voted up or down, said Eric Ueland, chief of staff for Majority Leader Bill Frist.
“Justice delayed will not be a justice denied, as Sam Alito will receive a fair up-or-down vote and join the Supreme Court before month’s end,” he said. “Any remaining threats to filibuster are just filibluster.”
Now if only the deal-breaking Democrats could see themselves as others see them…