Holier than thou

David Carr takes his turn writing a weasely column about bloggers. Apparently, everybody in journalism, or at least at The Times, gets that turn.

Carr quotes me, incompletely, from an email exchange. He emailed me complaining about a Gawker post and said that “some blog discourse does not have the vocabulary or termprament [sic] to deal with serious shit.” Well, sure, some doesn’t. He asked whether this was “an immature medium in immature hands.”

My full response to him, in email:

Sure. But not every Onion story is a gem.
I haven’t seen a Saturday Night Live skit that clicked in, oh, at least a generation.
And I’ve been offended by plenty of stories ripped from the headlines by Dick Wolf or Commander in Chief.
Do do we dismiss print? Do we downgrade all TV? Or do we blame the writers who missed the mark?
Looking for an excuse to write off a medium? I’d keep looking.
As for serious shit, Judy Miller causing war — in Iraq and in the Times newsroom — beats this.
And personally, I think that Kentucky Fried Chicken creating avian flu marketing schemes is a lot funnier.

He didn’t quote anything in bold, after “missed the mark?” I’d say that was convenient editing. He wanted me to say in his column that I agreed with him that Gawker missed the mark when, in fact, I was saying that he was missing the mark with this column idea.

Yet even after that bit of loose playing, Carr gets on his journalistic high horse — one whose shit apparently does not stink — and tries to dismiss all blogging because of the Gawker post he doesn’t like:

Blogs can be serious enough and conventional enough in execution to fit in with mainstream media (as will be the case when Time.com will begin running AndrewSullivan.com in January). But because blogs can be amended or erased, the people who write them tend not to be held to account. The expectation is that bloggers will transgress lines in terms of efficacy and tone and anybody who complains is viewed as a weenie.

And he accuses others of cheap rhetorical tricks? He continues:

A generation of Web writers – many of them excellent and genuinely hilarious – sees the world and its travails through a hail of nasty e-mail messages, tips and other blogs. That’s a different job than leaving the computer screen to interview the mother of an eight-year-old who has been run over by a car.

Man, did they have to replace your keyboard after you slammed that sentence out with a two-by-four?

Ms. Coen of Gawker and some of her fellow bloggers are fond off pointing out that they are not reporters, which explains everything and excuses nothing.

And now he calls in the big guns: The Ethics Group! Uh-oh.

“It could be a maturity issue,” said Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a journalism organization in St. Petersburg, Fla. “It is just now coming of age as a journalistic medium and tends to wallow in crass humor and sarcasm. Everything gets made fun of, including the Holocaust and genocide.”

Now where did the Holocaust and genocide come in? Gawker tabbed up a crime — it’s something that happens in newspapers, too, folks.

The great thing about the Web is that people can say almost anything they please. But it will only mature as a medium if people see that as less of a license than as a burden.

Yes, and the great thing about newspaper columns, too, is that people can say almost anything. Come on, David, you can do better.

: When I cut-and-paste my email, I didn’t pick up the first word, which I’d said in the intro to the quote. Now corrected.