Roger L. Simon

Bring Back the Union of Soviet Writers

Around 1987, I had the pleasure of visiting the Union of Soviet Writers as the guest of my late friend Julian Semionov, known as the Russian Robert Ludlum. I had heard the writers union building was one of the most sumptuous in Moscow with a grand wood-paneled dining room with fabulous food and free-flowing vodka. That proved to be true. At the next table to us was the chic and handsome Yevgeny Yevtushenko, spooning dollops of Beluga on his plate. Poets never had it so good, sanctioned ones anyway.

I thought of that visit while reading this risible article about blogs in Editor & Publisher. What we are dealing with here in the Rather Affair is a full bore nomenklatura and a richer one at that.

James O’Shea, managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, is quoted as saying of blogs: “It lends itself to a lot of manipulation. You can have information anarchy. You have to look at who these people are. We have to put some scrutiny on the bloggers.”

Who these people are? I’m assuming the editor is not a functional illiterate and uses search engines. Five minutes on Google would reveal the obvious truth that many of the bloggers involved in this controversy are lawyers, some of them even professors, and most of them well over forty with long legal careers. This particular blogger is a screenwriter who got an Academy Award nomination for adapting a Nobelist. Anybody on the Chicago Tribune do that? I don’t write that to brag (well, maybe a little), but to emphasize that in a battle of bona fides, the blog side has nothing to be ashamed of.

This Trib editor sounds like a member of the nomenklatura fighting for his survival at the end of the Soviet Union. Let’s hope he’s not Putin.

Meanwhile, on the CBS front, we are watching a gradual Watergate-style “limited hangout” unfold. Even the rhetoric will reappear. Of course, it’s not going to wash. They of all people should know better. (Not with us unqualified hacks watching.)

UPDATE: Some poetic justice here.

MORE: One of those blogging lawyers, Willam Dyer, is urging a Congressional investigation, calling Rathergate “a national disgrace and a national tragedy.” I’m not a lawyer (as that tedious phrase goes) but it would seem to me CBS violated some or many provisions of their broadcast license agreement. They hold a public trust. I’m sure at this moment their lawyers are working overtime (a partial explanation of the continued delay). They want to stay in business.

AND: SoxBlog weighs in on the MSM versus blogosphere… throwing a few bouquets this way. [I hope he’s not a Celtics fan!-ed. He’s excused.]