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We Report... You Deride

Saturday, April 09, 2005  
Hail to Thee, O Bloggers of Gossip

Since I wasted 90 minutes of my life on the National Press Club's debate on Who is a Journalist (choose the 9:30 event), I might as well try to get some value out of it:

1. Unless chosen carefully, panels are almost always annoying. This was no exception. On a six member panel, two people will be godawfully stupid (Jim Gueckert and Julie Davis) and two will be intellectually capable but boring (John Stanton, Matt Yglesias, the moderator). Since they try to make sure everyone gets the same amount of time, the two who are either bright or insightful (in this case, Garrett Graff and Ana Marie Cox) get slighted.

If you download the "Good Parts" version from Crooks and Liars, you'll get all the fireworks and miss only a few minutes of insight.

2. You can sometimes get more flies with vinegar than you can with honey. I thought the amount of abuse directed at Garrett and Cox (who received invitations even though they deal in gossip and rarely put any serious thoughts in print) was richly deserved. But they responded to the criticism by rising to the challenge. Their opening statements were carefully prepared and their responses to questions showed that they had both thought very hard about what they might be asked and what they wanted to say.

The other people were more or less winging it. Jim "Lady Marmalade" Gueckert had prepared a few setpieces; Yglesias had worked out a couple of bloggy ideas. The lack of preparation and/or presentation skill showed. Davis (who sounded like a giddy high school girl) was especially annoying.

3. I agree with the consensus: Cox stole the show. She did it the old-fashioned way-- by knowing what the hell she was talking about. When Lady Marmalade began whining about how mean the liberals had been to him after he asked his question at W's press conference, Graff called him on it-- pointing out that the objections were to the quality of his journalism.

When he started caviling about that, Cox barbecued him by asking "Do you think you would have served your readers better--that mass of red and green (don't ask) if your question had been factually incorrect?"

From the looks on the faces of the other panelists, they seemed to have trouble remembering that Gueckert's question cited a falsified quote from Harry Reid.

She also ridiculed his claim that he couldn't remember-- even to a remote degree-- how long it had taken him to get into the press room ("Was it days? Weeks? Months?"). Very impressive performance, and it's a shame you never get that level of skill on her site.

4. Graff, on the other hand, gets the Lloyd Bentsen commemorative award for prodding his target into humiliating himself. In pointing out that the level of professionalism-- not political views-- was the issue, he said "I mean, there are no widespread calls to kick Fox News out of the White House Pressroom--"

"Well, you can hardly call Fox News conservative," Lady Marmalade replied, earning the biggest laugh of the night.

5. I love Digby dearly, but his analysis is just dead wrong about Lady Marmalade's chances at a career. Wingnutry is welcomed at Faux News. Hostility and abusiveness is an asset. Ignorance and anti-intellectual behavior is de rigeur. But they won't tolerate people who produce bad TV.

And, honey, this woman was just sad. There were half a dozen instances where a well-timed riposte left Gueckert stammering out a response. If they gave him a show at Faux, he'd get wiped by even the strawmen they book to espose the liberal views. Alan Colmes might be able to make him his bitch.

Could he surface at MSNBC? Sure, but only because they have no clue about how to win viewers. Nobody will watch.

6. Digby is also out to lunch about Yglesias. He has no chance at a career as a talking head. If you watch the show, you'll notice that his face is flushed and his voice keeps cracking as he's trying to respond.

Them's the telltale signs of someone who's trying his best to score points, realizes that he isn't succeeding and is getting frustrated by his failure. You can almost see the words "God, I wish I had time to write out what I want to say.

You never know-- he could develop the skills when he gets older-- but at this point he's a writer, not a speaker. And that's not necessarily a knock on the guy.

I could say more. Maybe tomorrow I will.

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1:53 AM

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