Nick Coleman's latest column - his poison-pen congratualation to Powerline for appearing in Time Magazine - tells you everything you need to know about the man who is coming to be regarded as the worst major-market columnist in America today.
It shows what a lazy, trite excuse for a "journalist" that he is. It shows the spiteful, ugly streak that renders unable to obey Will Rogers' classic dictum ("Best to be quiet and have people think you a fool than to speak and remove all doubt"). It shows the extent to which is claims to be a "journalist" show the depths to which the mainstream media, and especially the Star/Tribune, have fallen.
And it displays the endless, crushing intellectual vapidity that has afflicted area bloggers with the "Coleman fatigue" that overcomes us when we see, week in, week out, more of Coleman's lazy, trite, vapid, cowardly output.
Powerline - the ostensible target of Coleman's ostensible writing - probably responds best:
Beyond that, it's hard to say what Coleman's point is, other than the fact that he doesn't like us, or, I guess, any other conservatives, which is hardly news. This is one of his more coherent sentences: "[L]ike talk radio, they are dominated by the right and are only interested in being a megaphone without oversight, disclosure of conflicts of interest, or professional standards." I have no idea what Coleman means by "conflicts of interest," and he never provides a hint. As to "professional standards," he never cites a single instance in which we have misrepresented a source, tried to pass fake documents off as genuine, or, for that matter, even made a mistake. So, again, it's hard to make much of a substantive response.Let's go through the column.
Coleman seems to be obsessed with our site, even though we rarely mention him. He went so far as to count the number of times we "shilled for votes" in the Wizbang Best Blog contest. (I'd explain the relevance of this to his tirade, only I don't understand it.) It's remarkable that even though he has obviously spent a lot of time poring over our site, he cannot identify a single substantive error that we have made.
WARNING: Substantial portions of a Nick Coleman column follow. Please turn off any heavy machinery.
But as you read it, ask yourself a simple question: What is he talking about? What's his point?
That blogs are dangerous? That Powerline has misrepresented him, the mainstream media...anything? That Powerline's national attention isn't warranted? What?
The end of the year is a time to bury the hatchet, so congratulations to Powerline, the Twin Cities blog that last week was named Time magazine's "Blog of the Year!"One of my new years resolutions is to start letting some of these straight lines go past. Not all of them - just the ones that are too easy.
Now let me get a new hatchet.
These guys pretend to be family watchdogs but they are Rottweilers in sheep's clothing.Now, unlike Coleman, I actually know Scott, John and Paul. I can't say that I'd like to be sitting across a courtroom from them - or be a target of Powerline's reportorial wrath - but I can think of many species of dog that I'd use before "Rottweiler", none of which I'll mention now since I'd hear about it on Saturday.
They attack the Mainstream Media for not being fair while pursuing a right-wing agenda cooked up in conservative think tanks funded by millionaire power brokers.What is Coleman talking about here?
They should call themselves "Powertool." They don't speak truth to power. They just speak for power.
That Powerline is, as they say themselves, loosely affiliated with the Claremont Institute?
Or is this a return to the old lefty chestnut, that all of us conservative bloggers take our orders from Karl Rove?
We don't know - and Coleman isn't a skillful enough writer to say (by writing something that makes a point, for example).
The lads behind Powerline are a bank vice president named Scott Johnson and a lawyer named John Hinderaker. If you read Powerline, you know them better by their fantasy names, Big Trunk (that's Johnson) and Hind Rocket (Hinderaker). I will leave it to the appropriate professionals to determine what they are compensating for [...although an actual journalist would have actually contacted one of those professionals. --Ed], but they have received enormous attention from the despised Mainstream Media and deserve more.Let's stop right here.
I wish I didn't have to do it, because I already get ripped a lot on the site, which thankfully also has had some nice photos of bikini-clad candidates for Miss Universe to keep me company. But I accept Powerline's contempt; I am only a Mainstream Media man, while Big Trunk and Hind Rocket are way cool. They blog.
I work for a dopey old newspaper committed to covering the news fairly...
Does the Strib cover the news fairly? Frequently, yes. Individual reporters, and the newsroom in general, usually do cover the nuts and bolts of the political conventions, car crashes, stamp shows, tsunamis and all the other events, large and small, that they choose to call "news" every day.
But Nick Coleman, Lori Sturdevant, the Strib's editorial board don't "report". They opine.
They have a big, unopposed platform - the Strib's editorial pages and A-section - on which to present their opinions. They have a few editors to perform, one suspects, some basic fact-checking on their opinions (although it's often not enough), and then, poof, it gets published. After it's published, the public can respond; they can write a letter to the editor (which, if it's a conservative, will probably only get published if it makes conservatives sound stupid), or send an email or phone call to the columnist (which will earn you one of their snarling email retorts or a rambling, incoherent voice-mail response and not much more).
In short, Nick Coleman is a blogger.
Read his collected output (assuming you can find it anywhere). Nick Coleman's column is a print blog, combining everything a fair-to-poor blogger brings to the table - caustic, ranting, cursorily fact-checked opinion - with feedback mechanisms so rudimentary they'd embarass even a lousy blogger.
The difference? If Coleman were a blogger with a circulation of 300,000 daily visitors who wrote something like this...:
If Extreme bloggers, who know nothing that happened before last Tuesday, had the same commitment to serving the public, I wouldn't have a problem. But like talk radio, they are dominated by the right and are only interested in being a megaphone without oversight, disclosure of conflicts of interest, or professional standards....there would be an avalanche of people pointing out that:
Time magazine's "Blog of the Year" is not run by Boy Scouts. It is the spear of a campaign aimed at making Minnesota into a state most of us won't recognize. Unless you came from Alabama with a keyboard on your knee.A real journalist, at this point, would show evidence that there is a "campaign" to deface Minnesota. We've already caught Coleman slandering Alabama, although since Coleman's blog appears in a newspaper, not many Strib readers heard about it.
So yes; Coleman is a blogger in all but physical medium. Not a good one...:
But enough. It's time for auld acquaintance to be forgot. So as a gift to Powerline, let me try my hand at some blogger-style "fact-checking."Actual fact-checking would have shown that not only was the Wizbang Awards a pretty tongue-in-cheek honor, for which everyone shilled their readers for votes, but that - this is important - it was unconnected with the Time award.
1) "It's totally unexpected," Johnson, the banker, told the newspaper after Powerline won "Blog of the Year."
But the Aw Shucks Act doesn't fly. Powerline campaigned shamelessly for awards, winning an online "Best Blog of 2004" a week before the Time honor. That online award was a bloggers' poll, and Powerline linked its readers to the award site 10 times during the balloting, shilling for votes.
2) "We keep it very much separate from our day jobs," said Hinderaker, meaning the boys don't blog at work.Were Coleman in any way accountable to fact, he'd have it pointed out to him that:
But they do. Johnson recently had time at his bank job to post a despicable item sliming Sen. Mark Dayton. If I had the money they think I do, I'd put it all in TCF. Then I'd pull it out.
3) Powerline sells thousands of dollars in ads, including one for T-shirts that say, "Hung Like a Republican."But a real journalist would find out before leaving the allegation hanging out there.
But does Powerline or its mighty righty allies take money from political parties, campaigns or well-heeled benefactors who hope to affect Minnesota's politics from behind the scenes? We don't know, and they don't have to say.
John Hindreaker notes:
It's been a long time since I went to law school, but I think there is a technical term for journalists who make charges that they know to be untrue.John's right.
The term is "really bad blogger".Posted by Mitch at December 29, 2004 08:48 AM | TrackBack