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Tuesday, September 17, 2002
...Nor a Threat
There are those who have objected to lumping analysts, commentators, and pundits in with true journalists---that is, those who do the heavy reportorial lifting. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a catch-all phrase which includes the pundits and excludes the reporters, so I will continue to refer to them all as "journalists". Those who find this distasteful will please avert their eyes.
There are some Professional Journalists who have commenced blogging, and have found themselves the target of simply vicious attacks. Some of the Professional Journalists have hinted at (or predicted) legal action against the attackers. Unfortunately, I cannot judge for myself whether these Professional Journalists are (as they claim) the targets of attacks which seriously impugn their characters or which spread outright falsehoods about them, because the Professional Journalists refuse to name or link to them. So I am left to wonder whether they are outraged at simple name-calling, dismissive critiques of their work, or sarcastic remarks about their writing ability. If the latter, the Professional Journalists would do well to consider this incident, which led a court to declare, "One does not seriously attack the expertise of a scientist using the undefined phrase 'butt-head.'"
Our Professional Journalists have dismissed their critics as envious riff-raff who have no ideas of their own so must snipe at more competent writers who have real jobs. But they wouldn't want you to take that the wrong way. No. They wouldn't want you to think that they believe only Professional Journalists are entitled to opinions, immune to criticism from the unwashed. No, indeed! Riff-raff means only, well, the riff-raff, such as those whose low self-esteem led them to believe they were included in the term riff-raff.
The Professional Journalists in question seem to be particularly incensed that some puerile slimebags and small-minded sludge have resorted to name-calling, if you can imagine. They hasten to note that their readers should absolve them from any charge of hypocrisy, because they did not name the names of those whom they're calling names. This is not cowardice, mind you, but discretion (as in "the better part of valor," one supposes).
Discretion is my watchword, so in like spirit I will not name these professionals when speculating that they have hugely engorged, throbbing, turgid---yet extremely fragile---egos, coupled with a rather charmingly naive notion of how much respect a position at a national newspaper should buy you. They also seem to be somewhat paranoid, believing that they are being ridiculed because of jealousy, because they are "famous". It does not occur to them that the riff-raff have always been somewhat unimpressed with the skills of many newspaper pundits---especially those who spew long streams of overheated prose, filled with poorly-reasoned, short-sighted ideas supported mainly by indignation. Nowadays, however, the riff-raff get to say so, en masse.
You know, come to think of it, in these thin-skinned times, one wonders that Professional Journalists would dream of siccing the law on their detractors. Wouldn't that be, you know, intimidation? Which is a form of censorship? Gosh, and here, because of certain darkly hinted legal threats, I've been wondering whether I should even post this! Chilling atmosphere! McCarthyism! Crushing Dissent!