Thursday, September 23, 2004

Self-Important Poseurs

Before I go to work on the post I mentioned yesterday, I have an uncontrollable urge to comment on a mirco-whirlpool of debate instigated by a Brian Leiter's post (found via Instapundit.) By the time of Ann Althouse's comment, Gordon Smith had commented and Leiter and Smith had a second round with Leiter popping into Smith's site for a snipe.

As to the substance of the debate, i.e., that the Malkin Story is more important than the Rather story, hence those pajamahedeen concentrating on the Rather story, and celebrating to boot their success in getting to the truth on that issue, are hypocrites for not doing the same to Malkin. Even more to the point, Leiter thinks the Rather story wasn't worth attending, while the Malkin story should have been mobbed.

It's a poor comparison on several levels. Rather's audience is huge and daily; Malkin's is much smaller and not so frequent. Rather's story had potential consequences of immediate impact; Malkin's story is not so immediate. Rather's is a story presenting facts in an effort to conclude a fact; Malkin's is presenting facts in an effort to conclude an opinion. About the only comparative intersection worth noting is both the main characters of both stories are trying to do the same thing - directly influence the decision making of their audience. More about that later.

Leiter's wrong on the effort's of the blogosphere, too. Malkin's story was covered, from the announcement of its release (practically no prerelease hype that I know, and certainly nothing on 60 Minutes like two others I could mention) through a fairly quick debate lead by Eric Muller. I didn't follow the story much at the time but I remember The Corner posted on it, as did Instapundit, Spoons, Allah, Dust in the Light, Command Post, among many others. Some of the posts were sympathetic to the line of reasoning in Malkin's book. And it is still being covered, though on a much higher level than suggested by Leiter.

Leiter's is correct on the disparate attention of the blogosphere but his reasoning is superficial. Here's just three reasons for it, though I don't doubt more can be identified. To begin with, Malkin makes no bones about her journalistic approach - political opinion. Otoh, Rather hides his journalistic approach behind the faux adage of impartiality. Poor opinionating is rarely as inviting for correction as the selling of fraudulent facts. Second, and more important to understanding the disparate attention, (this being seared into the minds of everyone having at least one political oriented brain cell since the days of 'Gary Hart for Presidential Candidate') never, never directly challenge the public to prove something different. Malkin has not done so. Rather requested millions to do just that.

Lastly, Malkin's story is an honest effort at discussion while Rather's is deceitful and duplicitous, not to mention sloppy, all topped with the haughty elitist attitude that no debate is necessary. Television appearances aside, Malkin is on the web conversing and debating in real time with her critics. Rather and his 'cohorts in crime' secret themselves in executive offices with lawyers while devising workable excuses for their hapless conduct. Another admirable thing about Malkin presents her argument with no scapegoat network to fall back on if she has made a booboo, big or small.

As for the "moral cretins and self-important poseurs" crack, it is just one of many denigrating ad hominems dotting Mr. Leiter's website. The cute "Instaignorance" slap was based one of his previous posts which linked to a post by fafblog.blogspot.com to prove the description and fafblog hadn't a shred of reality in it, much less anything learned. His quotes of Instapundit do not exist. It must be satire or something, but according to Mr. Leiter, Instaignorance confirmed regardless, I suppose.

I have been reading Instapundit for about 2 years and AA a little less so. It took a long time for me to realize their 'credentials', if you want to call it that. Mr. Reynold's doesn't flout them and has not, to my mind, used them to buttress any opinion he has. Ann Althouse's "About me" is the same. Neither refer to their University Faculty Page as their Homepage. Instapundit, motto is "If you have a modem, I have an opinion." Ms. Althouse's sums up with "the ways things look from Madison, Wisconsin" which sounds a lot like 'here's my opinion'. As for Mr. Smith, it is the first I have read him, though from his entries in this discussion he certainly adds to it in a reasonable and extremely fair manner. Just what you would expect of a lawyer.

Mr. Leiter's, for comparison, is "Editorials, News and Updates" which is in keeping with his university located blog and his university faculty sponsored homepage. His blog is filled with crudity and profanity which he defends on the grounds that his lawyer friends use it, denigration of others serving as argument proved, and some news dealt with superficially and with little substantiation. On top of all that, he crows about his censorship practices.

If you go by content of the weblog the self-important poseur is Mr. Leiter.

Update: Sorry for the lack of links. I know it is a bummer not to have them. I think I have added all of them.


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