Tuesday, May 09, 2006

[political-researchp] Bloglines - Chait has defended himself

Bloglines user bill.giltner@gmail.com has sent this item to you.


JON CHAIT AND THE ART OF "BLOG-BAITING." Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to propose the introduction of a new term: "Blog-baiting."

The idea came to mind reading the ongoing fight over Jon Chait's column arguing against a primary for Joe Lieberman. Chait has defended himself with this post over at The Plank, and while I'm normally a big fan of his writing, his latest salvo struck me as disingenuous in the extreme.

The whole thing started when Chait attacked Lieberman's left-wing foes as crazed lefty ignoramuses, and though these alleged loonies went unnamed, it wasn't a stretch to assume he partly meant Lieberman's most prominent blogospheric critics. So Kos and Atrios struck back -- and not surprisingly, the word "wanker" made an appearance, not to mention a curse-word or two. Now Chait's returned fire by arguing that his original contentions about Lieberman's simpleminded and fanatical foes were confirmed by the attacks Kos and Atrios hurled his way.

But come on, this is just bogus. Whatever you think of blogospheric name-calling, it was Chait who threw down the gauntlet first and set an "uncivil" tone in the initial column. In it, Chait described Lieberman's "left wing" foes as "fanatics" who indulge in "simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent." He also said -- while faulting Lieberman -- that Lieberman's allies were "basically right" to say that the "lefties are a pack of crazed, ignorant ideological cannibals."

This, I submit, is "blog-baiting." While plenty of criticism of blogospheric tone is legit, there are times when it's just gratuitous and illogical and seems designed to provoke the very "blog rage" the critic professes to be upset about. This is one of those times. After all, Chait appears to agree with the anti-Lieberman cannibals. He himself points out that he's very critical of Lieberman, and indeed, some anti-Lieberman arguments very similar to Chait's have been made, with at least as much nuance, by the very left-wing nutjobs Chait is lamenting. Yet even though Chait basically agrees on substance, we're supposed to believe, based on no evidence whatsoever, that somehow these unnamed lefties -- who we all know are bloggers -- are "fanatics."

No more blog-baiting, ladies and gentlemen. And one more suggestion: If you call people "fanatics" and describe them as "crazed" and "ignorant," then (a) don't be surprised when they get angry about it; (b) don't complain when the folks you've described in this way aren't particularly civil in return; and (c) and don't use the anger you provoked to argue you were right in the first place. Agreed?

--Greg Sargent


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