The Week Opinion Awards

The Week Opinion Awards

: I’m at The Week‘s second annual opinion awards and a couple of forums cosponsored by the Aspen Institute. Will live-blog as deserved….

: Walter Isaacson says that in the old days, Washington pundits were not independent; post-Watergate, they were “feisty and independent,” and now he asks whether being independent works.

Ana Marie Cox says it’s not necessarily about staking out a position but about being shrill. Her case in point: Coulter. If you’re tall and blonde and shout, you get attention, she says. You also get attention from sodomy jokes, she adds — but that’s about being clever.

She says bloggers pride themselves on their ideological independence.

Arianna Huffington says she goes after both conservatives and liberals — after liberals mainly for being “spineless.”

Peter Beinert of The New Republic: “I actually want to be pigeonholed. The problem is that people on my side don’t want me in their pigeonhole.”

I know the feeling with my pigeons.

He argues that we should not throw out the terms “left” and “right” for that is “to discard history.”

Isaacson says the new media forces this and he issues his mea culpa doing that at CNN, pigeonholing people on the left and right to put out Crossfire.

David Brooks: A straight reporter, he says, is always curious. An opinion journalist wakes up in the morning with an assumption and goes to bed with a conclusions.

Simon Jenkins of The Times of London says that 10 years ago, opinion journalism was almost dead but the audience shows “they want opinion, they want to know what you think.”

Ana Marie says the strength of American journalism is that it is noncredentialed. For years, a J-school degree was a proxy for a credential. But now blogging brings back uncredentialed journalism.

Huffington says the blogosphere takes on a story — like Dan Rather — and sticks to it. Isaacson says that it’s like cable news taking on O.J.

AMC says that bloggers stick on only partisan stories.

Brooks says British journalism is influenced by the tradition of Johnson: conversational. American journalism is influenced by the spirit of Walter Lippman: heavy, earnest, and self-important.

Beinert said the problem with Fox is not that it is a conservative network but that it is a Republican network.

Brooks: “I have never met an elected official who reads a blog… They’re not in the conversation.” He says he reads blogs. But he says that blogs are at a war among themselves and there is a different conversation — the one that matters, is the implication — among elected officials.

I think that’s looking at it the wrong way: Do the people in power care to listen to what the people say?

Beinert argues that the value for speed means that bloggers don’t say things to remember.

AMC says the reason she has a blog is because no one would print her.

Jenkins argues that blogs are just opinion but the “process of editing and mediation” at papers is why people turn to them. Insert standard argument here.

Huffington says big media is about not rocking the boat and the blogosphere is about rocking the boat.

Beinert says there is a real value in people writing about people without having to meet them.

Jenkins says that if the future of our journalism is going to be the web — unmediated and often not truthful, he says — we will miss newspapers.

Beinert says that many of the liberal blogs “are mainly interested in enforcing discipine.” Uh, yeah. “There is a great desire to have people in lockstep.” But he says there has not been a conversation about what it means to be liberal while on the right, that conversation on for years before the lockstep discipline began on that side.

Jenkins says we are “at the virtual collapse of the American newspaper industry.” He says the current debate on the web is very much like the growth of newspapers around 1900 when they were all affiliated with parties and ideologies and over 50 years a standard of professionalism emerged. He predicts the same will happen with the web. He is reminded of the founding of the Guardian when it was said that opinions are free but facts cost money. He says that people will be drawn to sites that offer facts.

Brooks says he is tired of generalizations about the blogosphere and mainstream media. When Arianna champions the blogosphere, he says “that battle is over, the blogosphere is around.”

Brooks says that you have to choose how to use your time and if you have a choice between blogs and books, he’ll take books.

: Then there’s a panel about Iraqi coverage. I’m getting blog fatigue. But I love this line from Salameh Nematt, D.C. bureau chief of Al-Hayat: “Saddam himself was a weapon of mass destruction.”

Then there’s this: Geraldo Rivera is asked whether he was convinced there were WMDs and he replies, “Kind of.” Close enough for Geraldo.

Asked whether he bears some responsibility for the euphoria right after the invasion of Iraq, Geraldo says yes. He says that he and his colleagues were cheerleaders and were patriots. Richard Perle tells him, “there was every reason to cheer.”

Geraldo says that the people in Iraq were all shouting, “Boooosh Boooosh.”

Interesting to see bitchslapping between the D.C. outposts of Al-Hayat and Al Jazeera. Now there’s bitchslapping between Geraldo and Al-Jazeera.

  • Dean

    Jeff:
    Does anybody really care what these hyperventilating blovators have to say anyway? The whole thing has the airs of the Oscars — self-important, self-congratulatory, hypocritical and pontificating; ultimately empty.

  • Jeff B.

    All I know is that this poseur phony – “Peter Beinart” – is CLEARLY not a real Democrat. Probably a Rove DINO plant. Who does he think he is, anyway?

  • APF

    Brooks: “I have never met an elected official who reads a blog… They’re not in the conversation.” He says he reads blogs. But he says that blogs are at a war among themselves and there is a different conversation — the one that matters, is the implication — among elected officials.

    That’s an interesting point that I’d like to hear more about; is the idea that blogs are too “meta” for the EOs (and hard to follow), or that they are focused on things which are unimportant in their minds (which seems odd, since blogging need not be different than opinion writing or commentary in other media)?
    -Adam

  • HSAWDI

    No, the point is that elected officials do not *care* what bloggers think, just like they don’t care what anyone thinks unless they believe it can assist them in getting re-elected. And now, since most of our Federally elected officials are Republicans, it is highly unlikely they read at all… just like their leader Predisdent Moron who is quite proud of the fact he never finished a book (including “My Pet Goat”) and would rather reveal his old drug test results than read a newspaper.
    People who understand what’s going on don’t expect elected officials to give a toss about what they say or do unless you can *force* them to care through threat of their seat in power.
    So called “progessives” and/or “liberals” need to wake up. 2004 should have been a loud alarm in your ear that expressing your opinion doesn’t mean a damn thing if you still except the same old paradigm.
    First things first, not everyone’s opinion has merit: the current administration is WRONG in their intent and their actions. You can’t get anywhere by sitting across the table from someone who buys into the fascist drivel of this White House and meekly retort “I see what you’re saying… but, if you’ll just read my little blog I think you’ll find, muhh, muh, muh muhh…”
    While they go off and steal your Social Security benefits, bankrupt the nation, and kill millions of poor people in your name.
    Stop being so lame.
    FIRST RULE: THEY ARE WRONG, THEY MUST BE STOPPED. After all, that’s how they view you.
    Get that down and you might be getting somewhere.

  • EPH

    Beinart was right, Jeff. Pope Ollie and the Torquemada Twins (Kos and Black) won’t like this one.
    Repent, repent now or forever be dammed you heretic you.
    Because, of course, they represent tolerance and diversity and pluralism. And when they criticize American shortcomings, they’re just trying to make it better. But when you criticize excesses on the liberal/left, well that’s just not permitted.
    Just remember: ne pur si muova [nevertheless it does move]
    Eric

  • MWB

    “…opinions are free but facts cost money.”
    That’s almost right. I’d just say facts are more expensive. Opinions aren’t free either, at least in the blogosphere, where you have to have the time and technological know-how to blog with any regularity and build a following.
    Of course, you can always slip in an opinion as a commenter if you’re a “too-busy-to-blog” guy like me.

  • Faramin

    …But I love this line from Salameh Nematt, D.C. bureau chief of Al-Hayat: “Saddam himself was a weapon of mass destruction.”
    Of course you do. When years of lies don’t work, you have no choice but resort to Bullshit.

  • richard mcenroe

    Jeff

  • http://www.lafn.org/~zeppenwolf zeppenwolf

    “Beinert[SIC] said the problem with Fox is not that it is a conservative network but that it is a Republican network. ”
    T’other day in the N.Y. Post, Peter had some excellent advice for y’all dems; hope ya take it. Unlike too many of “you”, I am not willing to put party over country– I’d like to pick up a few Senate seats in ’06, but I don’t want y’all to continue forever down this self-destructive road you’re currently on. A healthy U.S. needs two healthy parties, period. And right now y’all are puking– anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-ownership, anti-choice (other than abortion), anti-the whole dang universe. Get a grip on your party, guys. Next time, how about not inviting Michael Moore to sit next to F.P. Jimmy Carter? Matter of fact, if you had a collective conscience, I think you would lose Carter, too.
    At any rate, Peter is wrong about FNC– the record will show that contributions 04 from Fox employees went (slightly) more to the Dems than to the GOP. Obviously, (duh), the margin is not nearly as great as that of the other “BS” networks, but still.
    For we conservatives, the liberal complaint “What media bias?” is ever amusing. Does a fish think he’s wet?
    If you want to disagree with the GOP on just about everything… well, fine– you have a right to your opinion. But you *don’t* have a right to your own facts, you don’t have a right to your own history. The reason Fox news has been an unprecedented success is that they addressed a hitherto starved demographic who you refuse to admit exists: 59 million Americans, including but not limited to moi.
    Good luck.

  • J. Peden

    HSAWDI: “So called “progessives” and/or “liberals” need to wake up. 2004 should have been a loud alarm in your ear that expressing your opinion doesn’t mean a damn thing if you still except the same old paradigm…FIRST RULE: THEY ARE WRONG, THEY MUST BE STOPPED. After all, that’s how they view you.”
    Yeah, that’s a new one. Maybe if you just read a few more newspapers, you’ll find out how to stop “them”.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    Jeff, WTF do you bother with this shit? Like Ana Marie Cox is some kind of expert on…well, what?
    Like journalism is a profession. Find a profession and then match it up with journalism.
    I can always tell a rigid bureaucracy on its way down for the count….look at journalism, look at education. Similar problems. Lots of people with their heads in the sand. That’okay. Easier for me see….
    Jeff, you have the power and the platform. WTF are you waiting for???

  • http://www.oregoncommentator.com Timothy

    So called “progessives” and/or “liberals” need to wake up. 2004 should have been a loud alarm in your ear that expressing your opinion doesn’t mean a damn thing if you still except the same old paradigm.

    Ahh…Kossacks, gotta love ‘em.

  • EverKarl

    Jenny D asks:
    “Like Ana Marie Cox is some kind of expert on…well, what?”
    Rum, sodomy and the lash. Not necessarily in that order.

  • http://www.aboutwrite.com GregBurton

    re: elected officials reading blogs.
    Apparently Peter B hasn’t met Barbara Boxer…who has read, and has posted, at dailykos.
    Just saying.
    G

  • Del

    zeppenwolf,
    Beinart is correct, imo. FNC is a “Republican” network – moreso than a conservative one. If it were conservative, they’d be doing stories all the time about how much Bush is growing government, and how much he’s spending.
    What the employees there believe is irrelevant. They’re there to do a job, they know that. So that they contributed more to Dems doesn’t surprise me at all. Its what the higher ups think that matters, especially Roger Ailes. And even then, it wouldn’t surprise me if their politics aren’t exactly “Republican” either, but thats who their audience is – and so thats who they target.
    FoxNews is a product made for a target market, and both liberals and conservatives that work there know that.

  • Bob

    But I love this line from Salameh Nematt, D.C. bureau chief of Al-Hayat: “Saddam himself was a weapon of mass destruction.”
    Gawd, that was a meaningless cliche’ two years ago.

  • http://americandigest.org Van der Leun

    I’m entranced by the concept of Wonkette’s cleverness in exposing the adventures of her rectum to the world. She’s obviously in the front ranks of these intellectuals.

  • Del

    Van der Loon,
    At least she doesn’t have a stick up hers. ;-)