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September 29, 2004
Nick Coleman, Off His Meds

A number of high-profile members of the Fourth Estate have gotten mighty testy about the blogosphere lately, writing poisoned-pen columns about how we have the audacity to write criticisms of professional journalists who write criticisms of everyone else. It was just a matter of time before the third-rate hacks took up the same mission, and as Nick Coleman shows us in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, that time is now.

Nick starts off his factless tirade by sniffing about an odd characterization of Democrats:

This just in: I am a very wealthy man, born into privilege and power, and a stooge of the Democratic Party.

Oh. That reminds me, Smithers: Bring me the heads of some Republicans, would you? Also, set out the good silver. Fritz is coming over to give me my marching orders.

Dad-ums would be so proud, wouldn't he, Muffy?

Nothing in the opening paragraph is true, but bloggers and talk-show barracudas have said so, tossing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. I happen to enjoy the idea of me as to the manor born, so I have taken to wearing an ascot to my corner pizza parlor. ...

My dad was a Democrat (the first one to lead the Minnesota Senate since statehood). But he was a part-time politician and a mainstream Minnesotan who hated extremists of all kinds and enjoyed the company of many good Republicans, especially thirsty ones.

He'd be amazed that my $10,000 share of his Navy insurance policy -- the sum total of what he left to each of his six children, in addition to various knickknacks -- makes me a rich boy. Or to learn that he raised me in a mansion (actually, a split-level rambler) or sent me to tony schools (I believe St. James Grade School charged $30 tuition. A year).

Well, I think what Nick is getting at is the fact that the average Democratic contribution for president is slightly larger than that for the Republicans, who have raised more money through small contributions. Or it could be the knock on the Kerry tax plan that considers the top of the middle class at $70,000 per year. Actually, it's impossible to understand what the hell Coleman's talking about here, because he never explains it -- he just throws this out as if it's a common argument among bloggers, when I've never really heard it at all.

Sorry that you grew up in a middle-class household, pal. So did I. But if you are that sensitive to criticism about your upbringing, then you've just gotten a mere taste of what Republicans hear all day long.

And then Coleman breaks into a non-defense defense of Dan Rather:

But this is not about me. It is about the war against the media. A lot of it, we deserve. But a lot of the attack against the mainstream media is coming from bloggers, which is like astronomers being assaulted by people who swear that aliens force them to have sex with Martians.

Why don't you admit we are being invaded by Venusians?

I say: If you think Dan Rather is kooky, read some blogs and you, too, will be found in a daze, muttering, "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" But put on haz-mat gloves before you touch the mouse. ...

Do bloggers have the credentials of real journalists? No. Bloggers are hobby hacks, the Internet version of the sad loners who used to listen to police radios in their bachelor apartments and think they were involved in the world.

Bloggers don't know about anything that happened before they sat down to share their every thought with the moon. Like graffiti artists, they tag the public square -- without editors, correction policies or community standards. And so their tripe is often as vicious as it is vacuous.

Funny, that's the way we've always viewed your column, Nick. This edition provides a great example -- plenty of invective and insults and almost no facts whatsoever.

Here are a couple of facts, Nick. CBS News and Dan Rather -- who is their managing editor, a position you claim gives "professional" journalists an advantage over bloggers -- ran a story smearing the President during an election, using forgeries so bad that anyone who spent two minutes in the military could have recognized it. The checks and balances you point to with pride all managed to turn off their hearing aids when their own experts told them the documents were faked. And after they were caught -- by who, Nick? You? -- they spent eleven days emulating the Nixon White House, stonewalling and having Dan Rather tell us he "personally vouched" for the documents' authenticity.

Another fact: They still haven't admitted the documents are fakes, only that they cannot authenticate them.

And we're supposed to trust the mainstream media because ...?

I have been a reporter longer than most bloggers have been alive, which makes me, at 54, ready for the ash heap. But here's what really makes bloggers mad: I know stuff.

I covered Minneapolis City Hall, back when Republicans controlled the City Council. I have reported from almost every county in the state, I have covered murders, floods, tornadoes, World Series and six governors.

In other words, I didn't just blog this stuff up at midnight.

This, ladies and gentlemen, represents all of the facts that Nick Coleman presents in today's column, and it don't mean squat. Rather's been reporting almost as long as you've been alive, Nick, and he lied to us. It isn't about incompetence, although in your case it's a part of it. It's about bias and prejudice, and in CBS News' case, it's about malicious intent. CBS News allowed its producer, Mary Mapes, to sate her five-year personal obsession about skewering George Bush on his National Guard service by knowingly putting evidence on air that was faked.

Their viewers aren't fooled, Nick. They're abandoning the Tiffany Network's news programs in droves. CBS News made it up, at midnight or some other time, and it was the "hobby hacks" you decry that uncovered it.

Nick takes a swipe at the Power Line guys as well, specifically Scott Johnson:

Last week, one fashionable Minnesota blogger -- a bank vice president who is getting a lot of ink and TV time lately -- posted a scurrilous piece about U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, calling him, "Minnesota's contribution to the psychiatric profession."

Whoa. Maybe bank vice presidents never need counseling. But they sure must need more to do. This suddenly renowned bank vice president posted his ishy Dayton item at 10:30 a.m. on a weekday, making me wonder exactly what it is a bank vice president does. ...

We are not dealing with journalism, people. We are dealing with Internet chat rooms: sleazy and unreliable, with no accountability. Most bloggers are not fit to carry a reporter's notebook.

I'm curious, Nick: exactly what kind of accountability do you have? What kind of accountability does the Strib have? Is there some magic about putting words into newsprint that automatically assigns truth to your words? Because from where I sit, having read your column for several years and laughing at all the wrong parts, I'd say that you're not fit to carry Scott's pen. Scott and John helped unmask an electoral fraud at a major news organization while you write paeans to editors, for Pete's sake.

Besides, in the interest of full disclosure, one of your senior editors just came out on the losing end of a public war of words about Power Line's coverage of the Swiftvets campaign, which your paper never bothered to cover in its news sections but decided to trash in another content-free editorial instead. After writing a pair of dueling columns each, we invited Jim Boyd to appear on our radio show to debate the subject, mano a mano with Scott, and Boyd chickened out. I know; I was there.

We have accountability, Nick, to our readers. We write opinion pieces, which means that we at least reveal our biases, unlike most of your brethren, who resort to the ludicrous "Some of my best friends are Republican" defense. We link back to our sources for our readers to check out themselves, and the blogosphere and the readers hold us accountable. If you read blogs about Venusian invasions and Martian body-snatching, that's your problem, not the blogosphere.

And by the way, did you check the links on those Martian/Venusian posts? Perhaps they led back to the print world after all. (via Wog's Blog)

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 29, 2004 4:18 AM

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