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May 05, 2007


I think you are misreading Yglesias. On my reading, he's offering a more sophisticated answer that amounts to a melding of (a) "It's going to get enough attention anyway," and (b) "What matters is what the audience understands, not what I write, and, at this moment, work on Berger will only be co-opted by an existing and wrongheaded frame." Editors make decisions based on these sorts of determinations all of the time.

It's not clear to me that there exists some set of stories which must be written about; in fact, it seems clear to me that such is not true. Yet you seem to be implying that latter.

That the netroots set their own agenda is hardly surprising.

More troubling is when it happens at supposedly reputable news sources like the New York Times. Case in point: A week ago the Washington Post reported that the much-discussed SEC investigation of Bill Frist had cleared him of any wrongdoing. The Times certainly reported on the allegations against Frist when they were being made, but over the last eight days they haven't found enough space in the newspaper to mention his exoneration. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

Brendan, it's not a sin for Yglesias to avoid commenting on the Sandy Berger controversy or for liberal bloggers to refrain from denouncing Sean Penn for intemperate remarks. These issues are not important ones.

If Yglesias were to refrain from voicing his thoughts on Iraq (despite that being an important issue and a focus of his normally) because he didn't want to hurt the Democrats politically, that would be a problem.

See, e.g., Richard Perle: “Vanity Fair has rushed to publish a few sound bites from a lengthy discussion with David Rose. Concerned that anything I might say could be used to influence the public debate on Iraq just prior to Tuesday’s election, I had been promised that my remarks would not be published before the election.”

"there is a new wave of liberal bloggers who are putting ideological/partisan loyalty ahead of the open-minded pursuit of the truth."


Hell, this stuff even didn't start with the Internet. It goes all the way back to Willi Munzenberg.

In the 1930s, most American leftists believed Stalin was creating a modern utopia, thanks to a flood of disinformatsiya. That propaganda system, whose claims should have sunk quickly under the weight of their own ridiculousness when exposed to rational inquiry, was buoyed by the deliberately-introduced concept of relative truth and morality, a philosophical system perfect for justifying any convenient anti-empirical belief. Thus we heard that SE Asians would be better off under Communism, that Soviets had "economic freedom" superior to our "political freedom," that "war" was the only real enemy, that the USA and USSR were moral equivalents.

That campaign didn't die with its creators; their dupes put down institutional roots in academia and media and continued defying reality even after the Soviets collapsed. And why not? The system was designed for precisely the purpose of denying reality.

And so today, 1/3 of Dems believe Bush either caused 9/11 or let it happen.

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