Friday, June 22, 2007

STALK THE PLANK! I have been saying for years that blogging is absurdly overrated. One valuable measure of its triviliality is to see what happens to a famous blogger upon contact with real journalism -- contact beyond the usual link-mining and fist-shaking, that is.

In fact, to make it interesting, let's make it mainstream opinion journalism, which is sort of like tying one of journalism's hands behind its back. And let's make it The Plank, the in-house blog of the New Republic, which is to say mainstream journalism embarrassingly dressed in hipster threads and trying to get into a club.

The Plank's Christopher Orr took notice of the latest Althouse insanity previously mentioned at this site. Althouse doesn't respond well to criticism, but something about that little sailing vessel woodcut at the top of the page drove her to new depths of madness, and she began to stalk The Plank. In a series of comments she assailed Orr for incompetence ("Really, why are you writing for TNR when your diligence and comprehension are at such a low level"), then demanded an apology for something Orr didn't say.

Orr came back in a tone more of sorrow than of anger ("She's demanded multiple apologies... I'm rather sorry to have engaged her at all. Readers can judge for themselves my diligence, comprehension, prissiness, etc"), and Althouse returned to comments, announced "I am aware that my writing is popular," and then laced into poor Orr with the sort of blogger's boilerplate we all know too well from countless chest-beating posts:
Finally, you say "I fear the best I can do is to say that I'm rather sorry to have engaged her at all." Ha! You'd prefer to slam people and have them silently take it, right? Bloggers don't do that. The comfy old days of MSM are gone. Thanks for admitting that you can't handle the new situation where the people you attack have a way of fighting back.
Admittedly, not every blogger who goes mwah-ha-ha over what he or she imagines to be the corpse of the "MSM" is the online equivalent of the Simpsons' Cat Lady. But if we are tempted to believe that blogs represent some kind of massive paradigm shift that changes everything forever -- that is, if we forget how foolish that sort of triumphalist blather almost always turns out to be -- we should remind ourselves: Just because someone is using relatively new technology does not necessarily mean that he or she is the wave of the future. The screaming fellow with the Bluetooth earpiece may not in fact be connected; he may in fact be screaming to himself, only using technology to conceal his madness from the world.

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