In December, Time magazine dubbed Power Line “Weblog of the Year” for the part they played in highlighting RatherGate. But Time’s praise was the exception that proved the rule. The world “pajamas” became synonymous with bloggers in September of 2004, as a result of a crack on The O’Reilly Factor by Jonathan Klein, a former CBS executive, and now with CNN. As John Fund wrote:
A watershed media moment occurred Friday on Fox News Channel, when Jonathan Klein, a former executive vice president of CBS News who oversaw “60 Minutes,” debated Stephen Hayes, a writer for The Weekly Standard, on the documents CBS used to raise questions about George W. Bush’s Vietnam-era National Guard service.Mr. Klein dismissed the bloggers who are raising questions about the authenticity of the memos: “You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at '60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.”
He will regret that snide disparagement of the bloggers, many of whom are skilled lawyers or have backgrounds in military intelligence or typeface design. A growing number of design and document experts say they are certain or almost certain the memos on which CBS relied are forgeries.
Mr. Klein didn’t directly address the mounting objections to CBS’s story. He fell back on what high school debaters call the appeal to authority, implying that the reputation of “60 Minutes” should be enough to dissolve doubts without the network sharing its methods with other journalists and experts. He told Fox’s Tony Snow that the “60 Minutes” team is “the most careful news organization, certainly on television.” He said that Mary Mapes, the producer of the story, was “a crack journalist” who had broken the Abu Ghraib prison abuse story.
(Note to self: Must not make jokes about crack and a CBS journalist…Must not make jokes about crack and a CBS journalist….Must not make jokes about crack and a CBS journalist…..)
Also during the fall of 2004, Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News anchorman, praised at least one blogger to his face, but would be quoted saying this:
Williams, 45, is capable of showing good humor and a dry wit in public. When Time magazine held a lunch to discuss candidates for its person of the year, he exposed a side of his personality that is seldom seen on the air.When a fellow panelist mentioned that bloggers had had a big impact on the reporting on Election Day, Williams waved that point away by quipping that the self-styled journalists are “on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem.”
Perhaps the ultimate hitpiece on blogs, one that incorporated virtually all of the previous attacks on them, as well as dusting off a few of the first generation prototype shots that founding father Matt Drudge received, was this classic screed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Nick Coleman, who decided to vent spleen–buckets’ worth–when his fellow Minnesotans at Power Line won that “Blog of the Year” sobriquet from Time:
Time magazine’s “Blog of the Year” is not run by Boy Scouts. It is the spear of a campaign aimed at making Minnesota into a state most of us won’t recognize. Unless you came from Alabama with a keyboard on your knee.My ancestors came here as Irish sod busters in the 1850s, and they would be spinning beneath that sod if they saw powerful people trying to tear down what they built. But they’d enjoy how the Extreme works now: How it hammers all its opponents in the Mainstream as limousine liberals.
I keep wishing the Ivy League boys had told me I was rich before I took my first job cleaning bathrooms in a factory at night, or my next job driving a school bus, or my first newspaper job at the old Tribune for $147 a week.
But Extreme bloggers don’t tell truths. They tell talking points. Powerline is the biggest link in a daisy chain of right-wing blogs that is assaulting the Mainstream Media while they toot their horns in the service of … what?
The downtrodden? No, that was yesterday’s idea of the purpose of journalism. Extreme bloggers are so hip and cool they can make fun of the poor and the disadvantaged while working out of paneled bank offices.
That last sentence (note the extreme bloggers tag. Not just bloggers–but Extreme Bloggers!) prompted this humorous exchange between a reader of Instapundit, and the man himself:
Reader John Raynes emails:
I’m really confused . . . . First MSM told me that you guys all wore pajamas. Now they tell me that you work out of “paneled bank offices”. So do you guys blog from bank offices in your pajamas? The public has a right to know.
Yes, but they’re Brooks Brothers pajamas.
But of course. Incidentally, the above paragraphs by Coleman are only a taste. Like Beam’s 2002 piece, the original appears to have been tossed down the memory hole by its newspaper, but can still be found here, which I found via about five minutes worth of Googling.
Another of Glenn’s readers, in the same post linked above, explained how significant Coleman’s attack was. He described it as “a milestone for how far the Internet has come”:
One of the nation’s leading papers now has an opinion writer who has picked a fight with a leading blog. It’s practically incidental that the columnist appears to be losing. One of the rules of politics is that you try not to give your adversary any publicity, unless you have to. You don’t mention the fellow’s name. Even just a year ago, no one in the MSM would have entered into a debate with a blogger. Today, Coleman seems to feel threatened enough by Powerline that he has to attack them. How much does that say about the extraordinary growth of the Internet – and bloggers – as sources of news? To me, it seems that we’ve reached another major marker of the decline of the MSM.
Responding to Alex Beam’s 2002 column, James Lileks wrote:
Blogs need papers. But newspapers don’t seem to realize how they feed this new medium – instead of taking advantage of it, they treat it like a school of minnows nibbling on their toes. And Gulliver was no doubt amused by the Lilliputians until he woke up and found himself tied by a thousand small ropes.
Funny how that works.