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Posted by on Jul 30, 2008 in At TMV | 14 comments

Morning Joe Tanks (Updated)

Pete Hamill, of New Yorker fame, made an appearance on Morning Joe today and decided to jump on the bandwagon with Joe Scarborough’s daily tirade against “the Cheetos brigade.” (His name for bloggers.) Joe was talking about some mass e-mail he received with smears against one of the candidates, and then moved into saying how unreliable bloggers were, as if they were one in the same with the mass smear-mails. Hamill had the following to say about blogging:

It’s not journalism, it’s therapy.

It’s the literary style of a ransom note.

Never practice irony in an underdeveloped country. (The blogosphere.)

I really do like Morning Joe, but these endless attacks on bloggers with no rhyme, reason or examples is getting tiresome. Joe takes the time each day to have his producer read hateful e-mails that he receives, and without fail immediately lumps the letter writers in with “the Cheetos brigade” without batting an eye.

Say it ain’t so, Joe. You’re coming to the end of your shelf life. I interviewed Nancy Pfotenhauer and Bob Barr this week. Who’d you talk to? Pete Hamill? Nice get.

UPDATE: In the comments, Neocon (after some very nice compliments for TMV… thanks!) points out the following:

For now. Blogs are new frontiers. It’s the wild west and the sheriff hasn’t been hired yet to clean up the mess. Anything goes………and does.

And ChrisWWW adds, “Ego wars!” (which I’ll get to in a minute.)

Is there a wild west element to the blogosphere? Sure, and plenty of it. But when you get down to some of the really successful, high traffic blogs, (of which we’re proud to note that TMV is part of today) you see a lot less of it. And you’re getting a different product delivered to you than you find on the MSM. And yet Scarborough trots out these tired, hack metaphors on a daily basis about “coming out of your mom’s basement” or “wiping the cheeto dust on your chest hairs.”

Ego wars? Perhaps. But stop and think about this for a moment. In addition to the recent interviews some of us have done, I just this morning received confirmation that we’ll be interviewing Russ Verney on our radio show tomorrow. He’s Bob Barr’s campaign manager and ran the show for Ross Perot in 92 and 96. (Edit: Just found out that Russ will be on next week. Tomorrow we’ll be talking to Derek Barr… also a rep for the Barr campaign) I work regularly with Ed Morrissey on his show and he has interviewed damned near half of Congress by now and most of the presidential candidates. James Joyner can pick up a phone and reach pretty much anyone in the Senate on short notice. Rick Moran constantly gets called to be interviewed by the MSM. Ok, maybe you don’t want to call it “journalism” but if you only had the choices of that or “therapy” which would you say it’s closer to? We get these interviews and report back to you folks so that you can get an inside look at politics and campaign information in a format and style that you’ll never see on the alphabet networks’ evening news shows or these cable TV chattering class gab festivals. Joe Scarborough is talking to Tiki Barber tomorrow while Cindy and I talk to Derek Barr. Don’t get me wrong… I got nothing but love for the Tiki. But come on… Cheetos Brigade? Who’s doing the heavy lifting for the public in politics here?

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  • Neocon

    Jazz I would agree somewhat with their assessment with a caveat.

    Many bloggers in this game are good and honarble and decent people who check their facts and attempt to bring something to the table.

    I spend time at TMV because this is a good stie that is full of good, well intentioned and intellectual bloggers who try to bring something to the table. Even if I personally dont agree with their politics that does not alter the fact that I respect their acheivements and their ability to put pen to paper and publish coherent thoughts.

    Kudos to TMV.

    However if you surf around the blogsphere you will find pure lunacy in their blogging and you will find nitwits, morons and the like on all three sides of the issues blogging.

    I see a pattern emerging in the blog sphere. Just like newspapers used to dot the country. Blogs of note are sprouting up and gaining in popularity. This is noted by watching cable news and seeing… and so from daily kos, or huffington post or Captians quarter, or Hugh Hewitt etc.

    When people grow tired there will be a few standing that have an impact and people will go to them and get their news. AS they realize more and more their own importance they will Im sure spend more time checking their facts.

    For now. Blogs are new fronteirs. Its the wild west and the sherriff hasnt been hired yet to clean up the mess. Anything goes………and does.

  • Ego war!

  • Updated to reflect some of your comments.

  • Jazz – I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying. I like watching Joe, but this seemingly endless screed against bloggers is getting pretty old, pretty fast.

    I do see his point about those who do not or cannot have an intelligent discussion of ideas being annoying as I hate it when someone would rather shout at you versus have a dialogue about differing viewpoints (a la O’Reilly). But that is not license to lump all of those who choose to log their thoughts online into one group of Cheeto-eating, knuckle-dragging ideologues.

    Well said. Keep up the good work.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    Think of the pure ignorance revealed by those comments. How could anyone who actually understands even a moderate amount about the vast and varied universe of blogs equate someone sending a complaining e-mail with every blog in existence? They couldn’t, of course. But the negative comments flow in any case. And the listeners to his show probably don’t know any better and if they believe what he is saying they never will.

  • lurxst

    Can someone remind me of Joe’s journalism credentials that make him so superior to citizen journalists? Far as I know he was a lawyer and congressman and is now part of the cable noise machine.

  • Jazz,
    For the record, I like you better than Joe S. 🙂

    How’s that for your ego?

  • I was pretty flattered until I remembered an old girlfriend who once told me that I was “cooler than Where’s Waldo”

  • Jazz,
    Well, for the record, she was probably lying.

  • runasim

    As is my curmudgeonly wont, I agreee with Jazz TO A DEGREE.

    Interviews are laudatory as information sources, but there is a paucity of interviews without acompanying commentary and what passes for analysis, but is, in fact advocacy. (NOT MEANT FOR YOU, JAZZ) That brings us-maybe- back to the era when the MSM were at their imperfect best, but does not surpass that era.

    Then, too, unfair as it is to characterize all blogs by the worst examoles, you can’t ignore that they exist in an atmosphere dominated by the worst. While I fervently hope that I’m wrong, I see no reason currently for the optimistic view that the chaff will fall away and the wheat will flourish. That is the identical hope expressed by members of the MSM as they began to notice the beginning of the end of their own reign. Their predictions didn’t work out well for them, and in the competition between hard core news and trash talk, it’s trash talk that draws the most attention and is, therefore, the most influential.

    How do bloggers aim to immunize themselves against the same effect without a sheriff of one kind or another?

    I’ll save my sermon about clustering for another time, but a preliminary question is: how is anyone better informed if he/she relies on the same opinion compatible bloggers for affirmation?

  • kritt11

    Obviously blogging serves a need for folks to feel more participatory in our democracy, and for those who are sick of the predictable coverage of a lot of the cable shows. There are a lot of news stories that we are not hearing about on these shows— and a lot of what IS shown has been vetted by producers who are nervous about offending corporate owners or sponsors.

    The web may be wild but it offers a freedom of expression and a means for the media to be interactive with its readership. I think we’ll see the end of cable news and print media before we see the end of blogging.

  • A fair question, runasim, and of course I take no offense. But in the case of blogs, how do we *define* the wheat and the chaff in terms of separating them. There are some obvious, highly partisan blogs who only show one side of the issue (from the left or right) which are still out there burning up the virtual shoe leather doing the hard work of getting interviews and presenting new information which blog enthusiasts won’t get otherwise. I consider, for example, Hot Air to be a good example on the right and Jerelyn Merritt a good one on the left.

    TMV is an odd duck in that you will find writers here doing that sort of work from all sides. (Though I admit, the conservative / GOP / Libertarian views are not currently represented in as strong numbers as the more left / Dem / progressive voices, but Joe is working on that and bringing new people on board for the GOP side.) But still, it’s not just “people eating cheetos and using google to comment on MSM stories” here. We DO get original material, interviews, take part in campaign conference calls, and provide more depth on those things than any sound bite on the evening news or 4 minute cutout of an interview on a cable talk show. So I see a value there. Does it separate the wheat from the chaff? I don’t know. But I like what I see on many of the highly developed blogs from the left, right and middle and hope to see more of that. It’s a way around the traditional gatekeepers and gives us access to new things we didn’t use to get from television.

  • runasim

    It’s your fault for bringing on my clustering sermon 🙂

    Before we get to defining wheat and chaff, we have to cross the comfort hurdle. Having found and read blogs that affirm one’s own opinions, how open is anyone to information and/or opinions that contradict that? I would say not very open. In fact, I think the tendency is to dismiss what’s not a comfortable fit as nonsense, or worse, because people come armed with their opnions, which are now on the steroids of affirmation by compatible blogs.

    A lot of the information served up by the wheat among blogs is lost, totally lost, while the chaff flourishes, because it feels good, it’s comfortable.

    I read blogs from all directions, but I admit I’m biased. I come equipped with my own philosophy, my world view, and although I can append and amend if I read something that challenges that philosophy, it would take a large dynamite blast or a sudden epiphany to dislodge me from it. I have no doubt that I’m liable to look at information that contradicts with a jaundiced eye and gobble up information that affirms without sufficient doubt. And I try to be my own conscientious watchdog, Hah!!
    Since blogs, like cable news, provide too much opnion and the news they provide is highly and purposefully selective, I ask myself (and others) how much better informed really am I at the end of the day?

    And that’s the ultimate yardstick by which to measure that vast mass of the blogosphere.

  • runasim, while I find it depressing, I have to agree with a large portion of what you just wrote there. But for now, I’ll keep trying to be part of the wheat and looking for other wheat from both sides. I agree that, even for the really good original stuff, there will only be an audience for people who want the echo chamber. But even then, a well done echo chamber blog will still give you more meat on the bone than sound bites on the alphabet networks. And we can all try to avoid the chaff. And I will also try to do more positive stuff on Obama. Hell, I may wind up voting for the guy (or McCain!) depending on what Barr does in the next few months.

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