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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Joseph Rago Thinks He's Got It All Figured Out

It's tiring when we have to continue teaching this lesson, but eventually, the monkeys in the MSM will get this. On 20 December, Joseph Rago penned a particularly scathing indictment of blogs and bloggers. Now, the MSM has had a fixation on coming after the blogosphere as a whole since we took down their "saint," Dan Rather. But Mr. rago doesn't seem to comprehend the worth of the blogs when it comes to the media. In fact, he states, in part, that we're overinflating ourselves:

The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.

More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.

We "ride along" with the dead tree industry? If we were to ride along, as he states, then we would be sharing the mantra and the same shameless ignorance of facts that the media has perpetuated in recent years. It was bloggers that caught Dan Rather peddling phony memos to the public in a 60 Minutes II expose against a sitting president. It was bloggers that caught Eason Jordan making up lies about the alleged abust journalists were suffering at the hands of our troops. It was bloggers that led the charge against John Kerry and his lies that he continued to push about his military record during Vietnam, which was the focal point of his 2004 campaign. Bloggers uncovered the "fauxtography" of Reuters during the Israeli/Hezbollah war. And bloggers have called the AP on the carpet recently over whether or not Jamil Hussein exists in Iraq, and whether or not he is truly an Iraqi police officer. Where was the media in reporting these stories? Oh, that is right; they were not there. They refused to report these stories for whatever feeble excuse they could find.

As for the quality of blogs, we can only speak the truth of those that we read consistently and daily. Hugh Hewitt, Captain Ed @ Captain's Quarters, Michelle Malkin, Professor Glenn Reynolds @ InstaPundit, Charles Johnson @ Little Green Footballs, Hot Air, and Pajamas Media are the big guns iun the center-right blogosphere. They are the best of the best, and show it each and every day they post. We have run across smaller sites, like those from the 101st Fighting Keebees that are good, and near the par set by the elites. But let us face hard facts. There are ovger fifty million blogs on the Internet. Not every one of them will be stellar and astounding. But those blogs out there do their best to do the job they believe is their niche. For example, Thomas, Sabrina, and myself all do our best everyday to bring news to our readers, and provide thoughtful commentary. If Mr. Rago has a problem with that, then it is perhaps the writing style he dislikes as opposed to the blogger.

The way we write affects both style and substance. The loquacious formulations of late Henry James, for instance, owe in part to his arthritis, which made longhand impossible, and instead he dictated his writing to a secretary. In this aspect, journalism as practiced via blog appears to be a change for the worse. That is, the inferiority of the medium is rooted in its new, distinctive literary form. Its closest analogue might be the (poorly kept) diary or commonplace book, or the note scrawled to oneself on the back of an envelope--though these things are not meant for public consumption. The reason for a blog's being is: Here's my opinion, right now.

The right now is partially a function of technology, which makes instantaneity possible, and also a function of a culture that valorizes the up-to-the-minute above all else. But there is no inherent virtue to instantaneity. Traditional daily reporting--the news--already rushes ahead at a pretty good clip, breakneck even, and suffers for it. On the Internet all this is accelerated.

My turn. First off, we have a rule at the Asylum, and on our new site (the link will be available shortly): Always professional, Never personal. We take the news we have, as up-to-date as it can be, and not only relay that information, but offer our thoughts on it. The thoughts will not change because they're based on our ideology. Our ideology is what drove us to begin blogging in the first place because we could clearly see the bias in the media. The difference between the media and blogs is that they refuse to admit that there is a bias in their reporting, and we openly admit it. ANY visitor to The Asylum knows they're coming to a center-right site. There is a distinctive conservative side to our ANALYSIS, but it's not there in our reporting. The reporting, literally, comes from the media. We cite a portion, or all, of the story, and let the reader see where our complaints are. There's no argument that we're taking anything out of context because you can clearly read it in it's context--the exact and precise manner in which it was reported.

And I take issue with the idea that he perpetuates that news moves at a "breakneck" pace. Dan Rather made his phony report, and withing HOURS of that report, his piece was debunked by a team of experts that had worked on those sorts of typewriters. By the next morning, Hugh Hewitt was lining up typewriter experts for his afternoon show to "testify" about what they knew. Where was the media? Asleep at the switch, or circling the wagons to protect a colleague. Is that what he calls reporting? Where was the media demanding an explanation and proof of Eason Jordan's unfounded allegations? Where was the media in asking Reuters why they were doctoring photos to show more devestation in Lebanon during the Hezbollah/Israeli affair earlier this year. They were, much like the moderate Muslims after a terrorist attack, noticeably absent. The one complaint that many bloggers have regarding the media is that they don't fact-check enough, and it has become painfully obvious in recent years that this is a true statement.

The blogs must be timely if they are to influence politics. This element--here's my opinion--is necessarily modified and partly determined by the right now. Instant response, with not even a day of delay, impairs rigor. It is also a coagulant for orthodoxies. We rarely encounter sustained or systematic blog thought--instead, panics and manias; endless rehearsings of arguments put forward elsewhere; and a tendency to substitute ideology for cognition. The participatory Internet, in combination with the hyperlink, which allows sites to interrelate, appears to encourage mobs and mob behavior.

This cross-referential and interactive arrangement, in theory, should allow for some resolution to divisive issues, with the market sorting out the vagaries of individual analysis. Not in practice. The Internet is very good at connecting and isolating people who are in agreement, not so good at engaging those who aren't. The petty interpolitical feuding mainly points out that someone is a liar or an idiot or both.

We do not institute panics or manias. A swarm develops on the heels of a story that bloggers all take notice about, such as the Eason Jordan incident. Eason Jordan sat at the Davos Conference in Switzerland and literally indicted our troops in a war crime. No proof was presented then, or after the fact. And he did not come out and state that he misspoke. His silence was deafening on the issue; basically a "shut up and deal" sort of response to the bloggers who immediately demanded answers. The swarm grew from a few into a full on attack. Put up or shut up, was our response to his allegations. There was no panic involved. The argument was reasoned, and shared by the majority of bloggers demanding answers. We wanted to see his proof. We did not think he was an idiot for making the comment. We wanted his proof. When none was forthcoming, the pressure intensified to the point where CNN was left with no alternative but to cut him loose. They could not have a loose cannon like him working for them. His statement was a detriment to their network because the readers of those sites were levying pressure on them.

As for his insinuation that we refer to people who do not agree with our opinions as idiots, that is completely untrue. Thomas and I are in chat rooms on a daily basis dealing with people who disagree with us, and vice versa. They are not idiots. We disagree, and we debate the issues. The "idiots" that he may believe are out there are those who engage in partisan rhetoric, and vitriolic, personal attacks. But those we disagree with we hold no personal grudge against. For example, our editor Thomas Lindaman is a libertarian, by his own definition. We do not always see eye-to-eye on an issue. However, he respects our opinions, and never puts us down for them. Likewise, he recognizes the talent that comes along with our work. Otherwise, we would not be writing for him. Personal attacks, as Thomas pointed out above, are not welcome here. Now, the odd slam we occasionally put up (referring to someone as a "nutter," a fool, or an imbecile) is not meant to be a personal attack. We do not mean it that way. WE are simply stating our opinion at that moment regarding their argument. William F. Buckley is equally brilliant as he is foolish at times, but we still have a healthy dose of respect for the man.

Because political blogs are predictable, they are excruciatingly boring. More acutely, they promote intellectual disingenuousness, with every constituency hostage to its assumptions and the party line. Thus the right-leaning blogs exhaustively pursue second-order distractions--John Kerry always providing useful material--while leaving underexamined more fundamental issues, say, Iraq. Conservatives have long taken it as self-evident that the press unfavorably distorts the war, which may be the case; but today that country is a vastation, and the unified field theory of media bias has not been altered one jot.

The "party line" argument that Mr. Rago presents here doesn't hold water. Yes, there are favorite "beating posts" that the center-right enjoy (It's not like we're forcing John Kerry to make a fool of himself), and the idea that we aren't critical of certain issues is positively preposterous. Hugh Hewitt was joined by a chorus of blogs hammering away at the Senate over judicial nomineesa. Michelle Malkin ahas a veritable cadre of blogs that are on her side when it comes to the issue of immigration. And the list of center-right blogs that have been critical of the strategy in Iraq is longer than we have room for in this post. WE are intellectually honest in our arguments, which sets us apart fromt he media on another level. We're willing to question the president and the administration when things don't seem right. We have no problem with that. On the flip side, the Left attacks us for the same reasons that Mr. Rago has outlined here, and they stand in lock-step loyalty to their party. If there is any disingenuousness in the blogosphere, it is profoundly on the Left side.

The simple fact of the matter is that Mr. Rago has failed to grasp the idea of the blogs. I would suggest a couple of books so he might bone up on the subject, and understand it better. Blog by Hugh Hewitt is an essential book for the new blogger who wants to understand the 'sphere, how it works, and what people expect from a blog (and no, it does not have to be a poli-blog). Additionally, Professor Reynold's work, An Army of Davids, takes us beyond the blogs, and shows how the blogs started a technological revolution that is devestating the status quo establishment.

Instead of taking dirty swipes using fifty-cent words that the average reader couldn't comprehend, Mr. Rago should have taken a closer look at the conglomerate he decided to indict. They are, after all, having a significant impact on the world. We have broken more "scandals" than I can count, and have shown the media that there is a new sheriff in town. It's the people, and we do weild the power around here. If he doubts that, he might want to take a close look at the MSM ratings on TV, and the circulation numbers for what my beautiful wife terms as the "dead-tree industry." They're dying a slow, painful death right now. In the end, we may not be the ones who deal the death blow, but we've driven enough stakes into their hear tthat they're little more than the punchline to a very bad joke. It shows, and that's where we opened up some eyes. We're a legitimate group of people, and we're anything but amateurs. Every one of the bloggers we listed here are working professionals that are experts in their own right. Likewise, the trio here aren't slouches. We have our expertise in areas that I'm sure Mr. rago only dreams of. But, then again, what can you expect out of a twenty-three year old kid who thinks he has it all figured out?

Thomas and Marcie


Anonymous TLindaman said...

Ah, the self-righteous rantings of another media talking head against those who do the media's job better than they do. The guy's just mad that bloggers are "crashing" the media's elitist tea party.

Keep up the good work, Thomas, Marcie, and Sabrina!

8:27 PM  

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