It appears John Cruickshank has dumped Kathy English as his designated useful idiot in The Toronto Star’s ongoing asymmetrical (and largely one-sided) proxy tussle with the intertoobs. This time the projectile has been launched by the normally not-failtastic columnist David Olive, who, in a fit of self-satisfied pique, has convinced himself that the blogosphere has finally and decidedly been overtaken by the “MSM” (See? He’s totally down with our kooky lingo!) in what Olive describes as a “war” between New and Old Media. All because “bloggers” *gasp* like to get paid.
His examples, though, make one wonder if Olive actually reads a broad cross-section of blogs (political, music, pop-cult, etc), or merely browses a tiny cross-section of select Old Media exiles who have, at some point or another, utilized the medium, usually as part of a pre-existing business relationship with traditional print venues:
There was always a tendency for bloggers to save their best stuff for the MSM.
For instance, when it came time for a Rush Limbaugh takedown, David Frum penned a cover story last March for Newsweek. But now, even the pretence of independence is going by the wayside. Andrew Sullivan has moved his one-man blog to The Atlantic. Fellow former independent bloggers Andrew Coyne and Eric Alterman (Altercation) now blog for Maclean’s and The Nation, respectively.
Let’s see: Andrew Sullivan (former editor of The New Republic, longtime Times of London columnist); Andrew Coyne (longtime National Post columnist, mainstay of The National’s At Issue panel, and now Macleans national editor, not merely a ‘blogger’); David Frum (former Bush 43 speechwriter, columnist for Sun Media & formerly The National Review, author of numerous books); and Eric Alterman (OG Bearded Librul, longtime Nation columnist, also an author of numerous books and someone who, AFAIK, has, um, always been a paid blogger, going back to the early days of Altercation when it was hosted by MSNBC.com).
Not exactly what I’d call a representative selection of insurgent hostility to mainstream conventional wisdom.
If Olive REALLY wanted to make his point, he could have mentioned recent Old Media wagon-hitchings on the part of Ezra Klein and Ross Douthat. Of course, both Klein and Douthat sold out ages ago (to The American Prospect and The Atlantic, respectively). See, despite the “us” vs. “them” narrative Olive has constructed, us “independent” online opinionators have been reaching for the brass ring of mainstream acceptance (and monetization) since before there was a cool catchphrase to describe the world of “Internet diarists” (Hello? ‘Big Media Matt’?) But, of course, one would have to actually be a regular consumer of blogs to actually be aware of this; wading into the fever swamp of online discourse is clearly below Olive’s paygrade.
Plus, the fact that Olive also neglects to mention recent defections from old media to those online venues Olive sniffily dismisses as mere ‘aggregator’ sites (eg, Dan Froomkin, formerly of the Washington Post and now Washington Bureau Chief of The Huffington Post) is a pretty telling omission. But, hey, no need to hightlight that inconvenient fact, nor the extensive original reporting done by purportedly parasitic (sigh) venues like Talking Points Memo or HuffPo. Because Nico Pitney is such a dick.
That few if any ‘independent’ political bloggers (other than some of the brighter lights of the far-right wingnutosphere) are under the delusion that a few scrappy Cheeto-eaters in sweatpants are going to eventually topple the mighty Fourth Estate with WordPress accounts and collective chutzpah is apparently irrelevant. You see, Olive has to fill 800 words for his Sunday column, and if he has to construct the mother of all straw-man arguments to do so, well, so be it.
Look, I’m sure SOME bloggers do see their relationship with Old Media as antagonistic, rather than symbiotic. I’m also sure SOME columnists will never allow the overwhelming burden of unbelievable ignorance to prevent them from offering an opinion — especially one that conveniently dovetails with the biases of his or her boss.
Hey, we all gotta eat.
Update: Wow, that was fast — haven’t seen someone backpedal this quickly since Sebelius threw the public option under the bus.