Monday, January 03, 2005

Attention, Bloggers, Attention, Attention 

We're getting their attention, my good citizens. Attention from the right wing pundetry is a good sign. The Andrew Sullivan "dismissal" of bloggers is a good sign:

On the Internet, a volunteer army of bloggers escalated their guerrilla war against the mainstream media… Nevertheless, they stay on the margins—because, like all insurgents, they're about sniping, not governing.
—Andrew Sullivan, in Time's "Person of the Year" issue.

No, Mr. Andrew, the bloggers, the media ought not to govern, anyone but themselves. I would say though, that the blogger spirit of self-governance is a bit more honest, direct and real than the self-governance within the press.

We respond, and have the freedom to respond, exactly as we feel and believe. Why do we have this freedom? Because we nurture it with our writings, and it is our inherent right as individuals. We police and govern ourselves, and each other, with criticism, comments, reviews, essays, emails; we are the only form of free press remaining in this country.

The press's need for self-governance reflects a whole other set of values: what will the corporate sponsorship think. There may no longer be a need to ask such a question, though, because the identity of corporation and media have so merged, to be now indistinguishable, even to the parties involved.

Does a news anchor on MSNBC question the version of the news she is to read that day? She might feel twinges of remorse, or awareness of the deliberate bias, but she might also set aside these thoughts as not belonging in her newfound reality any longer. She has arrived. She has succeeded. And she can't do without the salary because the house has been bought, along with the BMW. She is another willing dupe of the corporate machine that same machine that gobbles bites of freedom of the press whenever it can, and shits the news you and I hear.

We are expected to ingest this shit as though it were the holy grail. Day after day, night after night, the talking heads bobble and gaggle in their self-importance, sucking a cock or two or being fellated themselves, it is all about me, they say and my views, only they don't see that they have already been swallowed by the machine, and are completely deluded by their self-promoted sense of importance, pawns in the matrix itself, willingly self-delusional, paying homage to the king of all delusions, that cock-sucker in the whitehouse, and his gang of follies.

Blog on, fellow citizens, Blog on a though your life depended on it. And it may. Blog on as though it were the truly democratic thing to do. Because it is. Blog on as a form of individualistic, self-expression, the kind originally encouraged and enhanced by our Constitution. It may be the one Constitutional freedom, this freedom of speech, that in the end, saves all of the others.

I give you Matt Taibbi's response, in the New York Press, to Andrew Sullivan's quote above:

It's amazing how useful a bad writer can be in exposing the vagaries of mainstream thought.
Sullivan probably doesn't mean to use the word "governing" in the above passage. He probably needs a phrase, something like "being good citizens," or "behaving responsibly." Sullivan is trying to compare bloggers to the Iraqi insurgency—a wrongheaded and unfair comparison to begin with, one that outrages both parties—but the way he writes it, he implies that the real media's natural role is to govern. In the shaky parallel structure of this sentence, bloggers and guerrilla insurgents make up one pair, while mainstream media and legitimate ruling government make up the other.
We know what he means, but this is the kind of thing one doesn't usually say out loud. Last time I checked, the press was not supposed to be part of the ruling structure in our system of government. On the contrary—and I'm just going by Jefferson and Madison, so I may be out of date—it's supposed to be an antagonist to it, a check on civil power. Sullivan's sentence would make fine rhetorical sense in Myanmar, the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, but in the United States one hopes it is just bad writing.
It's a very odd thing, watching the reaction of the so-called mainstream media to the phenomenon of blogs. The response is almost universally one of total disdain and disgust, but the stated reasons vary.
An argument I see sometimes and occasionally even agree with is that bloggers don't have the same factual and ethical standards that the mainstream media supposedly has, which leads to such fiascoes as the bogus Kerry-mistress story sweeping the country, or the name of Kobe's accuser being made public.
But more often than not, the gripe about bloggers isn't that they're unethical. It's that they're small. In the minds of people like Sullivan, not being part of a big structure intrinsically degrades the amateur, makes him a member of a separate and lower class; whereas in fact the solidarity of any journalist should always lie with the blogger before it lies with, say, the president. Journalists are all on the same side, or ought to be, anyway.
Not Time magazine, though. Time lay with the president. Time big-time lay with the president. What was great about Sullivan's "Year of the Insurgents" column last week was how beautifully it threw the rest of the "Person of the Year" issue into contrast. Here's Sullivan bitching about bloggers needing to stay on the margins where they belong; meanwhile, his "respectable" media company is joyously prancing back and forth along 190 glossy pages with George Bush's cock wedged firmly in its mouth.
The "Person of the Year" issue has always been a symphonic tribute to the heroic possibilities of pompous sycophancy, but the pomposity of this year's issue bests by a factor of at least two or three the pomposity of any previous issue. From the Rushmorean cover portrait of Bush (which over the headline "An American Revolutionary" was such a brazen and transparent effort to recall George Washington that it was embarrassing) to the "Why We Fight" black-and-white portraiture of the aggrieved president sitting somberly at the bedside of the war-wounded, this issue is positively hysterical in its iconolatry. One even senses that this avalanche of overwrought power worship is inspired by the very fact of George Bush's being such an obviously unworthy receptacle for such attentions. From beginning to end, the magazine behaves like a man who knocks himself out making an extravagant six-course candlelit dinner for a blow-up doll, in an effort to convince himself he's really in love.