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Debating a Dinosaur

Why George Will Doesn't Understand the Blogosphere

Every now and then, I make the mistake of reading one of George Will's columns. This is because George has a knack for finding interesting topics, which gets me to read, but he constantly proves his own bias and error in his columns, which causes the regret. On this occasion, Will started by taking on TIME magazine, for its narcissist trick to sell covers by appealing to the readers well-fed egos (link Courtesy of Real Clear Politics).

So far, a good choice, especially since TIME magazine's predilection for how they discuss certain personages and their portrayal is more than slightly tilted to the Left. Unfortunately, before very long Will starts in bloggers. And in so doing, he displays the sort of ignorance and prejudice which he ostensibly finds poor practice in others. A good example is this section from the column, where Will writes:

"There are expected to be 100 million bloggers worldwide by the middle of 2007, which is why none will be like Franklin or Paine. Both were geniuses; genius is scarce. Both had a revolutionary civic purpose, which they accomplished by amazing exertions. Most bloggers have the private purpose of expressing themselves, for their own satisfaction."

Certainly it must be acknowledged that there is a good deal of dreck in blogging, and that many bloggers are in fact just as vain as Will suggests. However, Will throws out diamonds with the sewer water, and his comments not only assail a large number of very fine bloggers and astute minds, his column seems to imply that the old-school media is not even more arrogant and self-indulgent. I should like to ask you, Mister Will, who is more credible:

Kofi Annan or David Limbaugh?
Katie Couric or Little Green Footballs?
Rosie O'Donnell or Betsy Newmark?
Dan Rather or John Hinderaker?
Joy Behar or Lorie Byrd?
Mike Nifong or Hugh Hewitt?
Harry Reid or Bill Roggio?
Ray Nagin or La Shawn Barber?
Joel Stein or The Anchoress?
Mike Wallace or Bruce Kesler?

You get the idea. Between the old media and their chosen figureheads to adore, there is much to criticize and precious little to praise, especially compared to the Blogosphere in similar efforts. As the Rathergate scandal demonstrated, many bloggers are intelligent and skilled professionals, whose dedication to much higher standards than anything exhibited by the New York or Los Angeles Times is beyond question. Some write well, some are amazing at digging below the surface, and as Bill Roggio and Michael Yon have demonstrated, some back up their claims with action, going to the source even across the world, far beyond the self-imposed limits by the nominal media to verify claims and deliver true reporting. You owe them better than derision, Mister Will. You owe them respect they earned years ago. The fact that you are paid well as the MSM is, should not mean you side with them against bloggers, who pursue truth often for its own sake, rather like Tom Paine and Ben Franklin, though you have shown you are slow to admit that fact.

I should not be too hard on George Will, I guess. In some respects, he is simply showing loyalty to the media he knows; print and television. That does not make him right, however, and he really needs to discover what tens of millions of Americans already know - that the blogs supply entertainment, conversation, debate, information and education on a scale beyond anything the Mainstream Media can even dream of. Not that the MSM is going to become obsolete, but commentators who don't know what they are talking about may expect to lose their readers and viewers. And that includes self-important columnists, even George Will.


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Comments (21)

And pray tell George, were ... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

And pray tell George, were Franklin and Payne the only two people writing during their era of history? Dreck is hardly a new phenomenon; does the name Jack Kerouac ring a bell? Joyce?

It just becomes a matter of separating the wheat from the chaff in a world of 100M bloggers.

The key difference between ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

The key difference between the MSM and blogs like WizBang is that with the MSM you get broadcast news, but with blogs you get to participate in a conversation about the news. Blogs provide a community for discussing ideas, something that existed in small town America before the rise of TV and the fast paced life that arose with it. No wonder Will is worried about his one-way soap box.

I liked the old George Will... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

I liked the old George Will.

It's like when the get a new James Bond; always have a hankerin' for Connery.

Poor George! Anyon... (Below threshold)
Scott:

Poor George!

Anyone who thinks that the MSM is the be all and end all of "news" in this country really needs to get out more.

My local paper, like most, is 75% edited wire copy. There is no attempt to localize it. What passes for local "news" is mostly crime and crap about one "victim" group or another being bothered about something. The rest is entertainment/TV/comics/sports, none of which I read.

To get actualy NEWS, I turn to the web, where I can find an amazing amount of information on things that are important to me.

Sorry, George, but I tuned you guys out a while back...about the same time I cancelled the New York Times.

Baron, I'd hardly call Joyc... (Below threshold)
IllTemperedCur:

Baron, I'd hardly call Joyce dreck. But that's me. However, you're spot on with Kerouac. Self-indulgent, whiny monkey crap.

DJ, I agree with your premi... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

DJ, I agree with your premise, BUT, your examples pit some of the best of the conservative side of the new media against some of the worst of the old media.
It's like comparing Shakespeare to Styxx.

No SCSIwuzzy, that's what I... (Below threshold)

No SCSIwuzzy, that's what I wanted to show. By deriding the Blogosphere, Will seemed to be saying there was nothing good there. And by ignoring the bilge put out by some notable MSM entities and their fave subjects to interview, Will seemed to be saying that there was nothing wrong with the MSM at large. I simply showed how glaring his error could be.

And you're right, the blogosphere choices I made were outstanding. I can't help wondering though, if Will knows who La Shawn Barber, Bill Roggio, or Betsy Newmark are?

Whar George Will seems not ... (Below threshold)
David:

Whar George Will seems not to get is in many cases the blogger is an expert in the field he/she is blogging about. Can I trust Will or any reporter frankly have a clue on string theory. But if I pop over to Vic Stenger (retired high energy physicist) I can trust he knows what he is talking about.

In the Rather thing, bloggers went to people who actually know about athenticating documents (starting with the early objectors which include LGF).

I'm old enough to remember ... (Below threshold)
robert:

I'm old enough to remember when George Will was one of the very few conservatives to be found anywhere, before blogs, before Fox, before Rush.

And George would of course waste those precious few minutes talking arcane baseball points. How he must miss those days, when he was the one.

But he never made the jump, so to speak, and now he must take his rightfull place on the scrapheap of history, egomaniac bowties pile.

And George Bush (41), a decent man, would have every right to piss on this pile, after Will abandined him and helped bring in Bill and Hill.

Using the United States Sen... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

Using the United States Senate as a parallel example, one sees a significant amount of disagreement between the Democratic and Republican senators on policy issues. Obviously, one sees the same diversity of opinions from those in the MSM depending upon which side of the conservative/liberal debate they advocate. But both of these institutions imagine they exist in a somewhat higher plane of insight than the regular folks that elect them or read them, respectively. As a result, despite sometimes vociferously differing on a specific issue within their own peerage, they all consider themselves part of a privileged "brotherhood" somewhat sequestered from the "masses". With respect to the established media, those pesky bloggers irrespective of their political slant are a growing, real-time threat to the facts/opinions conveyed by either liberal and conservative darlings of the MSM. Certainly the patrician Mr. Will feels this way. It's annoying in the least for him, I'm sure.

Sorry, off-topic. I saw th... (Below threshold)
Robert:

Sorry, off-topic. I saw this:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061221/ap_on_re_us/marines_haditha_25

Is Murtha always right, or does it just seem that way?

I have to object to you usi... (Below threshold)
youarecorrect:

I have to object to you using Kofi Annan, Harry Reid, and Ray Nagin in your comparisons to bloggers. Whether or not you agree with that these people do or whether you feel they are credible, they still have something above every blogger you had on your list: THEY DO THINGS, which is more than any blogger on that list or you, DJ Drummond, accomplish from you computer screens or your parents' basements.

So thia a-hole troll dips i... (Below threshold)
robert the original:

So thia a-hole troll dips in, uses my name again, and drops - way off topic - what he thinks is a bomb.

Could this be anything other than a troll, paid or otherwise, riffing through the blogs and depositing his daily dose of talking points?

Get it in he is told, however you have to.

Add to the list of bloggers... (Below threshold)
Mike Boelter:

Add to the list of bloggers, one who compares very favorably to Franklin or Thomas Paine. I speak of Bill Whittle of http://www.ejectejecteject.com

Never did like George Will ... (Below threshold)
dickdee:

Never did like George Will and his arrogant attitude...remember him with kookie cokey and sam. Hey fake Robert, Murtha is right about 8 times a day...when he has to pee and ask his secretary to hold it for him. I'd like to see him go to Iraq and meet with the troops...we'd likely not ever see him again. Notice how Kerry steered clear of the boys when he was there...he mistook the word fag for frag and immediately thought he was a target! ha ha ha

Mike Boelter: I'll second ... (Below threshold)

Mike Boelter: I'll second that!

Back in the time that Georg... (Below threshold)

Back in the time that George Will was part of National Review, which itself was in its infancy, such ponderous nonsense would not have issued from his pen! Apparently he doesn't remember when National Review was merely a struggling dream of William F. Buckley's, but I do! NR has grown and flourished, George Will hared off on his own ego trips and, to my mind, has not!

Further - memo to George Wi... (Below threshold)

Further - memo to George Will: there are many GENIUS writers in the blogsphere and I've read most of them!

The unfettered exchange of knowledge and opinion in the blogsphere is uniquely American and this specifically American genre is spreading through the world more rapidly than many people realize.

As to the accuracy of bloggers? We fact check each other constantly - any blogger who routinely publishes lies, half-truths and poor research is dealt with in the best way possible - they become UNREAD!

I'm old enough to ... (Below threshold)
I'm old enough to remember when George Will was one of the very few conservatives to be found anywhere, before blogs, before Fox, before Rush.

Him and William Safire. Safire ended up voting for Clinton in '92.

Young conservatives don't remember the bad old days before Reagan when liberals controlled virtually the entire everything and the only conservative outlets were:

1. National Review
2. Human Events
3. the occasional conservative columnists already mentioned.

Whenever the MSM wanted "the conservative view", they would haul out this CINO named Kevin Phillips and he'd dutifully agree with whatever the liberal talking point happened to be that day.

Then came Reagan and then came Rush and then came the internet.

And now liberals are pissed. Which is why Jeanne Kirkpatrick was shouted down when she tried to give lectures on college campuses and why David Horowitz needs armed guards when he does the same.

And for the past few years now, liberals are squealing about "incivility" in public discourse, but that's only because they're being regularly confronted with ideas they don't like. And so they react like spoiled children throwing a temper tantrum.

No modern-day Paine on the ... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

No modern-day Paine on the internet? I'll add another vote for Bill Whittle proving George Will wrong.

If Reagan had lost you woul... (Below threshold)
lonetown:

If Reagan had lost you would not have heard of Gearge Will. The MSM needed Will to explain Reagan, that's how lost they were.

I think what's throwing Will off now is the explosion of ideas and voices.




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