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Monday, September 09, 2002

Norah Thorn...

Muahahahaha! Several bloggers expressed great pleasure that Norah Vincent, Real Journalist, now had a blog. I was not so sanguine, because I remember this article of hers in the LA Times. In this web incarnation (no, I don't know why the web page title is screwed up), it's titled "Intimidation is a Form of Censorship".

Yeeehaaaa! This is exactly what many idiots were saying without saying all this past year, and the Blogosphere ripped them up one side and down the other for it.

In this article, Vincent argues that there's no free speech if you can be fired for saying something unpopular. She apparently has the government confused with private employers, a confusion made manifest in this paragraph:

Yanking advertisements from network television shows should also be unconstitutional. This happened recently to Bill Maher, host of the late-night talk show "Politically Incorrect," after he said a few politically incorrect things about the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack.

She goes on to say that if Bill Maher's conduct annoyed his sponsors, they could have just sent him a written statement. (It'll probably work on Saddam, too.) She (apparently seriously) suggests we pass a law forcing advertisers to continue to support shows, no matter what their personal corporate feelings as to the show's contents. At least, once they sign up for a show, they should be forced to pay for it for a certain amount of time.

Almost as mind boggling as her idea is the fact that some editor at the LA Times let it slip past. Wouldn't that mean the Times is forced to pay Norah, no matter what kind of crap she spouts? No wonder she's in favor.

Matt Welch had his own take.

But that was just one article, written ten months ago, possibly in a huff. I haven't heard anything really stupid from her, until this:

But, I must say that the so-called blogosphere, liberating as it can be, is-as I have had the misfortune of discovering in recent days-also full of nasty riffraff and wannabe pundits who because they haven't an earnest, original idea in their heads, fill their empty existences sniping impotently at legitimate targets. By legitimate targets I mean people who have actually had some measure of success in their professional lives, people who get published regularly in the mainstream press because, yes, they have a certain degree of talent, but moreso because they have something more to say on a weekly basis than "boo hoo" or "look ma, no hands."

Oh, my God! Have we been mocking Real Journalists? Shame! Shame on us! Why, Real Journalists got where they are by being smarter than a locomotive! They are Real Journalists because they are better writers than a speeding bullet! They are Real Journalists because they can check facts faster than a tall building! The very gods on Olympus have reached down and imbued the Real Journalists with their Journalism superpowers. You, you Maureen Dowd---you Cal Thomas---you over there, Ted Rall! You're a Real Journalist too! You all have been selected into the Order of the Sacred Notebook by virtue of your keen intellects and wise pens, and not at all because you lucked out or attracted some other idiot with pull or were marginally more talented than all the no-talent hacks who managed to stay sober through Journalism School.

I, too, have been guilty of the sin (wait? is it venal or mortal? must check) of criticizing a Real Journalist. I must shrive myself immediately.

Sadly, as one friend of mine put it recently, the internet is something of an "echo chamber," and this means that even the flimsiest vitriol gets posted and reposted, annotated and updated ad nauseam until the accumulated pettifogging becomes a kind of beslobbered palimpsest that looks and reads like a snot rag.

Weeelllll, doggies. That must be summa that thar fancy rightin' yew kin dew when yer a Real Journalist. Hot damn, I shore wish I could right like 'at.

(Actually, I think she wants Usenet. Through the bathroom at the end of the hall, Norah! Move the giant spiderweb out of the way and crawl behind the toilet. That's right, the dank stairway. Be sure and take a flashlight! And a gun.)

All of this has made me regret one of my earliest posts on this site in which I took a hatchet to Maureen Dowd. I was wrong to do so. It was a perfect example of the kind of parasitic, attention-getting crap I'm talking about. The truth is that I, like every other opinion journalist on the planet, would kill to have her spot on the NYT page. I envy her. I also find her snarky attitude irksome, but that, my friends, is my problem, not hers. Nobody is forcing me to read her.

Now this is rich. So it's OK for Dowd to have a snarky attitude and maybe even be unfair and wrong and not write worth a damn because she writes for the New! York! Times! But an equally snarky takedown of Dowd, involving not only her snotty attitude but her actual facts or reasoning is just childish, eh?

Maybe it suddenly occurred to Vincent that people might be reading her little blog, and that it might behoove her to stay on good terms with Dowd. I have no idea; I don't know how them thar Real Journalists act toward one another.

Besides, there's nothing more loathsome than someone who blames her own career shortcomings or dashed ambitions on the successes of someone else. There's also nothing more toad-like than someone who uses another person's fame to raise her own profile, or uses righteous indignation as an excuse to pass off pure small-minded bitchiness and cheap sarcasm as real critique. Maureen Dowd may be taking up space, but she's not keeping anyone else down.

Gosh, I'm sorry, Norah! I see you weren't talking about me. I could never blame my career shortcomings on Maureen Dowd or even Robert Fisk. That's because I'm not any kind of journalist. I'm small-mindedly bitchy and cheaply sarcastic for the sheer malicious hell of it.

She is keeping someone else down, assuming you think that somewhere there's a better, smarter writer who could fill that space. Me, I'm doubtful. More, if Maureen Dowd is influencing the opinions of voters and varous government officials, then she cheapens the national debate.

There are plenty of constructive criticisms to be made of Dowd's opinions, and I will, no doubt, make them here from time to time. But I am determined to do so civilly and with the respect due anyone who labors under the heavy burden of producing two columns a week for the newspaper of record.

Genuflect! Genuflect all! Two colums a week for the Newspaper...of...Record! (Man, this post would've been a lot easier if HTML had SmokeNFlames tags, or SparklyDiscoBallFX.)

Yep, sounds like someone may have pointed out that Vincent should be nicey-nice to the Big Dogs if she aspires to so much as Chew Toy status. Let's see you fetch, baby...that's roll over...good girl.