Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Understanding Liberal/Progressive Political Blogs: Polite Advice for Mainstream Journalists

Print this out and you have a one-page summary which you can keep in your pocket for those rare times you need to write about political blogs. The rules are simple:

1. You can choose from these assessments: Either liberal blogs don't matter, because nobody reads them. Or liberal blogs don't matter, because they are only read by fringe elements (dirty hippies) who don't matter or shouldn't matter. Or liberal blogs don't matter, because though they might be read by a whole lot of people, these people are still a fringe, even if their opinions might be those of the majority of Americans or at least of the majority of Democrats. Picture a very, very long fringe and you get the idea. Or liberal blogs don't matter, because they are read by rabid lambs with venomous teeth. That last one is handy to mix with all the others. You can never go wrong by distancing yourself from such mananimal hybrids.

2. If you need a firmer storyline, how about comparing liberal bloggers to fascists? Never mind that liberal bloggers are not in power and that their activities don't satisfy the definition of fascism. Should you not want to go that far, McCarthyism is another nice label to slap on all those angry, screaming faces. Both of these serve nicely to make the powers-that-be look like the really innocent victim, too.

On the other hand, the dirty-hippies-for-peace metaphor might still have mileage in it. You could argue that the vitriolic bloggers are just like those flower-kissing weirdos of the past, and that they will destroy, destroy!, the Democratic party. Unless they don't matter at all, of course.

3. Don't forget the anger. The anger! Liberal bloggers are angry! Never ask why they might be angry or what their grievances might be, because this might make the liberal bloggers look...human and reasonable. Make sure to write a lot about the viciousness of liberal blogs. You can dig in the comments to the blogs for material, even if this material isn't written by bloggers themselves, and you can go as far back in time as you need to do to build up a truly frightening picture: The barbarians are ready to scale the wall surrounding the last shreds of civilization, and if they manage to get inside they will use naughty words!

4. Ignore the conservative blogs. They don't usually have comments so it's harder to get really nasty slurs, and they don't say shit and fuck. Ignore what they are writing, even if it's advocating lynching of the Supreme Court Justices. This advocating is done in a polite language (have another cucumber sandwich, dear), and in any case we all agree that the radical right is supposed to say these sorts of things. The liberals and lefties, on the other hand, are supposed to be peace-loving turn-the-other-cheek types.

If you have to compare the conservative and liberal blogs, make sure that the conservative ones come out looking great.

5. Never remind your readers that the anger and viciousness in the political arena was initiated by the radical right. Never remind your readers about the right-wing pundits in the media spewing hatred day in and day out.