Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Irrelevance of the Right-Wing Blogosphere

I hadn't been tracking this story much, so I was pleasantly surprised when I finally came across Glenn Greenwald's comprehensive breakdown of the "Jamil Hussein" situation.

Who is Jamil Hussein, you ask? Well, that was the question. The Associated Press named him as an Iraqi police officer, and a souce for many of their stories in Iraq. Problem was, others questioned the claim, most prominently the various right-wing bloggers out there. So what happened? Well, check it out:

Packs of right-wing bloggers spent the last several weeks trying to destroy the credibility of Associated Press's war reporting by claiming that one of its sources, an Iraqi policeman named Jamil Hussein, does not exist, that AP simply invented him. As it turns out -- and as AP itself had the great pleasure of reporting (and then rubbing in the face of its irresponsible, taunting accusers) -- the Iraqi Government, which previously denied it, now acknowledges that Jamil Hussein does exist and he is a police officer in Iraq, just as AP reported accurately.

Eric Boehlert has written extensively about the right-wing blogosphere's attempt to destroy the credibility of AP's war reporting by insisting that their source was non-existent (and, needless to say, then became the immediate target of a campaign of personal attacks, assaults on his integrity, and childish name-calling).

And within the last twelve hours, multiple people have written comprehensively about the profound and long overdue humiliation which these right-wing bloggers just suffered. Greg Sargent re-caps how this incident exposes - yet again - the complete lack of credibility of the reckless, truth-free lynch mobs that compose the "right-wing blogosphere" and which hilariously see themselves as watchdogs over the media even though they traffic in the most reckless innuendo, gossip, and rank, error-plagued speculation that exists.

Here, Dave Neiwert documents but a fraction of the false accusations they made against AP, and during the controversy itself, he made the excellent point that this whole "controversy" was based on denials by the "Iraqi Government" and the U.S. military of Jamil Hussein's authenticity -- military and government denials which they mindlessly ingested and accepted as True like the good little authoritarians that they are.

To this superb commentary I want to add but one point -- there is nothing new, unique or surprising about this incident. Exactly this has happened repeatedly, time and again. This is what the right-wing blogosphere does. It is who they are and how they function. The only difference here is that they were so shrill and relentless in their attacks on AP, having prattled on about it for weeks without pause, that they actually pushed their accusations against AP into the national media.

And, to their great credit, AP -- which continues to aggressively defend its imprisoned-without- charges Iraqi photojournalist Bilal Hussein (whom right-wing bloggers repeatedly accused of being a Terrorist) -- fought back against these accusations. And now the right-wing blogosphere stands revealed as what they are -- a pack of gossip-mongering hysterics who routinely attack any press reports that reflect poorly on their Leader or his policies, with rank innuendo, Internet gossip, base speculation, and wholesale error as their most frequent tools of the trade.
He goes on, at some length, about the lack of credibility that the right-wing bloggers have. He's right in pointing out that this was inevitable- they're so intent on finding bias or errors in the "MSM" that they are relentlessly prone to jumping the gun with accusations that, as it turns out, have no merit.

Here's the thing, though- they don't have much else. I've mentioned before that the striking difference between the American left bloggers and right bloggers is that the former seems to have ideas, credibility, and some sway in the party, whereas the latter just haul out the same old talking points, accusations, and paens of devotion to The President. Not the actual man, mind you, but the ideal of "President Dubya" that they seem to have built up in their heads that the real guy falls tragically short of.

(Sort of "Dubya as Platonic Form", if you will.)

With this gotcha stuff now completely discredited--these guys are going to get hammered from now on everytime they try to play this game--what's left, exactly? They have no ability to derail their leftie counterparts, these accusations make them too much of an embarrassment to play a role with the MSM even if they were interesting commentators (which they aren't), and most aren't actually knowledgeable enough to get into the think-tank game. Sure, they can maybe show up on Fox, but Fox ain't doing so well nowadays, either.

It's striking. As frustrated with the exclusion as people like Markos Moulitsas are, they're far bigger players than their counterparts. I wouldn't have expected this- it shows how much things change. And, for once, they've changed for the better.

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