Ed Driscoll

That Was Then, This Is Now

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a statement by early blogger Ken Layne became a rallying cry to the nascent Blogosphere, much like “Go West Young Man” was to an early generation of Americans (or “Food Fight!” to a newer one, to borrow Roger Ebert’s riff). Layne’s original quote went like this:

It’s 2001, and we can Fact Check your ass. And you, like many in the Hate America movement, are no longer able to dress your wretched “reporting” in fiction. We have computers. It is not difficult to Find You Out, dig?

In the course of massive repetition, Layne’s statement was boiled down to its essentials:

We have computers. We can fact-check your ass!

But 2001 and the spirit of the early days of blogging is increasingly receeding further into the distance, as this passage near the end of Howard Kurtz’s new profile of Michelle Malkin illustrates:

Sometimes, though, Malkin seems to use the same howitzer against every provocation. After she started crusading against the “Girls Gone Wild” culture as a “liberal assault on decency,” the satirical site Wonkette received — and posted — a picture of Malkin’s head on the scantily-clad body of a college student, whose image had been plucked from the Web. Malkin denounced what she called the “hate-filled cowards” at Wonkette’s parent company for “repeatedly smearing and attempting to humiliate me.”

After being contacted by Malkin’s lawyer, Wonkette ran a snarkily worded semi-retraction. The site’s West Coast bureau chief, Ken Layne, says he doesn’t know or care whether the picture is real and calls Malkin “incapable of getting a joke.”

“People send us dumb stuff all the time, and if it makes us laugh, we post it,” he adds.

As Ann Althouse wrote last year:

People blog for lots of different reasons, and blogging is still burgeoning and developing. Don’t cave into nostalgia for a Golden Age, especially one that got its golden glow from the horror that was 9/11. Things were bound to change and shake around, and some bloggers that you liked then may put you off now. But there are always a million new bloggers, and blogging is a beautifully fruitful format.

If not always a beautifully truthful format, of course. But these days, what media is?