Matt Lewis has his pajamas all knotted up because bloggers just don't get no respect. And in Lewis' view, Sarah Palin deserves a large share of the blame for that sad state of affairs:
While defending South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley from accusations she had an affair with a prominent South Carolina blogger, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said: "Nikki categorically denies the accusation that was spewed out there by a political blogger who has the gall to throw the stone, but then quickly duck and hide and proclaim he would not comment further on the issue. Quite convenient."One could also add that Sarah Palin has hired bloggers to be trusted members of her team, as Dan Riehl points out here. One could also say that the governor, when she criticizes the legacy media, doesn't digress to the point of mentioning that there are still some reporters and media outlets (though most of them are local, not national) that are fair and balanced, though they are largely a disappearing breed.
It's no surprise that Palin would defend Haley -- she recently endorsed her. And I have no idea whether the allegations are true or fabricated. What caught my attention was Palin's use of the term "political blogger" as a pejorative -- as if that, in itself, discredits the critic.
This seems to be a trend with Palin, who now mocks bloggers with regularity. During an interview on Fox News, she criticized the media for taking cues from "some blogger probably sitting there in their parents' basement, wearing their pajamas, blogging some kind of gossip or -- or a lie."
She ought to know better. The "pajamas" reference was famously employed as a dismissive insult against conservatives by former CBS News executive Jonathan Klein, who ridiculed bloggers questioning Dan Rather's bogus Air National Guard memos, saying: "You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at '60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing."
In that instance, the mainstream media finally did take their cues from bloggers, and in so doing finally got the story right. The blogosphere was hardly intimidated. Out of that episode grew a conservative online outlet, Pajamas Media, run by Roger L. Simon, and Klein himself is now president of CNN, which recently hired Erickson to provide commentary.
On yet another occasion, Palin referenced "bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie to annoy me."
In fairness to the former vice presidential candidate, she has every right to be angry with some bloggers. She and her family have endured scurrilous attacks, including one from a liberal blogger who "broke" the bogus story of her divorce. Worse yet, right after her nomination as John McCain's running mate, Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic invented a new type of "birtherism" when he went on a bizarre and misguided quest to prove Trig was not really Palin's baby. Sullivan went so far as to demand a paternity test.
On the other hand, it was blogger Adam Brickley (my former intern) who began the "Draft Sarah Palin" blog -- and was widely credited with helping to bring her, then an obscure governor from a distant state, to the attention of the McCain campaign. One could argue that Palin owes her fame to a blogger.
Lewis would prefer that Gov. Palin perhaps explain the difference between "good" bloggers and "bad" bloggers every time she mentions those who blog. She of course has neither the time nor the inclination to point out the distinctions between the good, the bad and the just plain ugly of the blogging genre when she is trying to make a larger point. Besides, what convenient terminology exists to succinctly mark those distinctions?
The governor could break it down by political ideology and only criticize "liberal" bloggers or "leftist" bloggers, but not all conservative bloggers are "good" and not all liberal bloggers are "bad." She has been roundly criticized, remember, by some of the leading bloggers on the right for simply choosing not to attend the CPAC convention and for her choice of candidates to support. We do frequent blog searches in our research efforts at TX4P, and we have found that perhaps the best way to break down the blogosphere is into responsible bloggers and irresponsible bloggers. While bloggers on the right generally tend to be more responsible than their counterparts on the left, there are without question some irresponsible bloggers who lean to the right. Anyone can become a blogger, and there's nothing apart from their own sense of ethics which compels them to at least make an effort to confirm facts or to back up the allegations they make. Again, while the practice of making things up and distorting the rest is more widespread in the leftosphere than in the rightosphere, there are bloggers of all persuasions who play fast and loose with the truth. One can start a blog in a matter of minutes and immediately publish on the web some of the most vile slurs, bizarre conspiracy theories and bald faced lies, and do so without offering a shred of proof or risking penalty of law. Some even get paid for doing so, and we introduce Andrew Sullivan into evidence as Exhibit A. But he unfortunately has plenty of company. A tool and his money are soon parted.
And where are bloggers to find inspiration for doing the right thing? Certainly not in the corrupt and disgraced legacy media, which has undergone a devolution back to the bad old days of yellow journalism at its worst. The old reporting standard of finding multiple independent sources to confirm facts has been thrown under the press bus. The public doesn't trust the legacy media, and they have the good sense not to believe everything they read on blogs as well. When Sarah Palin criticizes "blogs" and "bloggers" her intended audience knows exactly who she is talking about. Too bad that Lewis doesn't yet feel that the common folk are capable of that level of sophistication, but we have high hopes that he will eventually come around.