Wednesday, August 10, 2005

CITIZEN JOURNALISM: DON'T TRY IT OUTSIDE THE HOME! A few years ago Jonah Goldberg laughed (spraying cracker crumbs and globules of Marshmallow Fluff, no doubt) to think of Al Franken and his sissy liberal colleagues trying to compete in the rough-and-tumble world of talk radio. "Conservatives are more entertaining than liberals," said Goldberg, because liberals always had to watch what they said -- "They respect all sorts of false pieties which conservatives can poke fun of. They dance around politically correct landmines and confuse themselves for ballerinas" -- whereas wingers could let the good times roll a la, well, Jonah Goldberg. And of course the straitjacketed libs were always bitching and moaning that oooh, the wingers were being demogogues. Bwa ha ha. Fuck those guys.

Flash forward to last weekend, when liberal op James Carville managed with the rhetorical equivalent of a pinky thrust to knock crusty old Bob Novak right off his rocker. Jonah Goldberg, now scowling parentally in his toga, reacts:
This all illuminates the rot in cable-news political discourse...

...I disagree with the Bush administration on a wide number of issues — from immigration policy and “compassionate conservatism” to its grotesque overspending. But it’s very hard to offer a balanced defense when your opponent is shouting that you’re a whore to the GOP and that Bush is a liar with his pants on fire...
Yes, the world of talk TV is too rough-and-tumble for Goldberg. Maybe the addition of visuals pushes the thing over the edge for him.

Now to be fair, this is not the linchpin of Goldberg's argument. Maybe he started out like that, then realized how ridiculous he, wielder of the NatRev whoopee-cushion, sounded in Comstock mode. In any case, he guides our attention to the harrumph-harrumph real problem: too many political operatives on TV, as opposed to creatures of pure air, light, political philosophy, and barbecue sauce such as Jonah Goldberg.

Tucker Carlson and Bob Novak "are journalists," says Goldberg, "opinion journalists, to be sure, but journalists nonetheless. They speak for nobody but themselves and they have a long-term interest in maintaining their credibility." Whereas trash like Carville and Paul Begala, he informs us, are "party operatives and always have been. They were even advisers to the Kerry campaign while still keeping their 'analyst' jobs at CNN."

Yes, Jonah Goldberg is arguing that professional journalists are more credible than outsiders with other jobs. Good thing Ole Perfesser Reynolds is on vacation, because I'm sure the celebrated Citizen Journalist would pounce right on that elitist thinking! In fact, I'm sure all the pie-eaters are rising up against Goldberg as I write this. There must be something wrong with Technorati, which is not showing any such activity.

I wonder if Goldberg would consider the problem solved if the nets replaced operatives like Carville and Begala with -- oh, let's say Eric Alterman and Juan Cole. I'm guessing not.

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