Monday, July 29, 2002

Letter from Gotham's author, Diane E., partially ascribes her movement away from liberalism to, oddly enough, Instapunditwatch. A relevant quote:

I'm downright uncomfortable with sites like Instapunditwatch...He's a blogger, fer goshsakes, not a paid pseudo-pundit like Sullivan and Kaus. I have my differences with him. I can do without yet another post directing us to a blogger who thinks that targeting Arab-Americans is not racial profiling. I have reason to believe -- though cannot prove -- that after I wandered off the reservation with respect to Sully he studiously ignored my blog. So what? He's got a right to post what he wants on his blog. It's his goddamn blog.
Which is true, just as anybody else has a right to respond. And it's nice to acknowledge that Instapundit is, much of the time, about as fair in his choice of sources as the Weekly Standard. Yet she goes on to say..

I want to say publicly that I am forever grateful to Glenn Reynolds for being a clearinghouse of information about anti-Israel bias in the press, especially the British press.
See, here's the first problem- he's a clearinghouse of claims of anti-Israel bias in the press... I've looked into some of those claims, and they're based on specious and useless arguments usually based on quotes taken out of context and frustration that anyone would take a different perspective on the issue. Even aside from that, though, the earlier paragraph that Diane wrote argued that Instapundit either has a clear agenda or simply picks his links from the same sources. It makes him unreliable- you never know whether there might be a scathing rebuttal or brilliant defense that Instapundit doesn't link to because it doesn't fit his beliefs on the subject.

I am positive that the Jenin non-massacre was exposed as a fraud as quickly as it was by the amount of information that passed through the Reynolds' blog, which functions as a central nervous system of alternative analysis during crises.
I doubt blogs had anything to do with it.. it was likely the fact that the press was allowed into Jenin and hysterical rumors turning into sober reality that caused it.

In any case, this is the real problem, and proof of the inconsistency in Diane's argument. If the Reynolds blog serves as a "central nervous system of alternative analysis", then it serves a real, important function. Yet Diane's first paragraph shows that he either has an agenda or a clear bias, and perusal of any site that discusses Instapundit in critical terms makes it abundantly clear that such a bias exists, even if the simple fact that he writes for an unabashedly libertarian website didn't. This means that he's important and directly influences what information people recieve (as any editor is), and yet entirely untrustworthy... and therefore, utterly deserving of criticism.

As someone who has despaired of the unanswered influence of Robert Fisk for years, I commend Reynolds for simply holding Fisk up to the clear light of the day and exposing that man for the fraud that he is.
Rebuttal, especially the invective aimed at Fisk and his type, is hardly "holding Fisk up to the clear light of day". Fisking is just an argument style based on Usenet quotation conventions that can take arguments out of context unless handled very carefully... and I wouldn't describe most warbloggers as "careful". While it's tempting for those who agree with the person doing the rebuttal to characterize it as some sort of "washing away the profane with the sacred", that's almost never the case, and certainly not with any rebuttal of Fisk I've ever read. I'm not a big fan of the guy, but let's be honest here.

One other thing... calling the act of dumping a pitcher of water over E.O. Wilson's head fascist is an insult to those who have been the victims or dupes of fascists in the past. It was ill-advised and unwarranted (although understandable- sociobiology is a huge threat to Marxian analyses, because it undercuts historical materialism, and therefore the hard leftists that do exist in universities), but not fascistic in the slightest.

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