Tuesday, March 28, 2006

An Open Letter to the WaPo's Jim Brady (post-Domenech)

JFTR, nobody cares about Ben Domenech. OTOH, I do care very much about the integrity of the Washington Post, which I've been reading for four decades. I want them to journalism, rather than suckupitude. The WaPo's kinda schizophrenic these days - it's got some great reporters who aren't going to suck up to anyone, but it's got some reporters and editors who clearly do. People like me who care about the damned paper want to see it come down on the side of journalism. Hence the following, which I emailed yesterday:

Dear Jim Brady:

As a subscriber to the print version of the paper, and as a regular reader of the website, I have some thoughts about your continuing search for a specifically conservative blogger.

You seem to be convinced of the WaPo's need for such a blogger. Needless to say, many of your readers are wondering why a specifically conservative blogger should be elevated to such visibility, ahead of many quite possibly more accomplished bloggers of various political orientations. Honestly - why don't you just steal Kevin Drum from the Washington Monthly? He's a first-class writer, and he's got a track record for levelheadedness and backing up his ideas with factual cites.

But since you're not likely to do this, maybe you should give us Washington Post subscribers an idea of what's missing from that only a righty blogger could provide. Here's how you might go about this:

1) Read a week's worth of posts on some of the major righty blogs, such as The Corner, InstaPundit, PowerLine, and RedState. [Doesn't have to be *you*, of course; that's what interns are for.)

2) In the (, reprint, or link to, posts that you feel are the sort of thing you'd hope to see from a conservative blogger on the site.

3) Stop and ask yourself - and your readers - how many such posts fly in the face of facts and logic. (I'm a more than occasional reader of such websites. They seem to suffer from a lot of this. Not to say it never happens on the left, but I'd say it happens to a much lesser degree on the lefty equivalent of the sites I mentioned above. Feel free to compare a week's worth of those four for factual accuracy and soundness of argument with a week's worth of the DailyKos main page, TalkingPointsMemo, Political Animal, and Firedoglake. No contest.)

4) What's left over is the maximum potential worthwhile output of a reasonable right-wing blogger. Note that any individual blogger will probably hit no more than 50% of the M.P.W.O. Note further that any blogger worth his pay will be posting a few times a day, and the remaining posts will not be part of that group of worthwhile posts. Think about the signal-to-noise, worthwhile-to-garbage ratio that implies.

5) Ask yourself, and your readers, if that ratio suggests that a conservative blog can make a positive contribution to the WaPo website.

I'm quite serious about this. Unless you've spent some time actually reading the righty blogs, you may have this idea that there's a pool of conservative blogging talent out there that is busily making strong, factual intellectual cases for socially conservative ideas. I can't say I run into anybody out there who's any more sound and factual than, say, Cal Thomas. I hope Cal's beneath the Washington Post's standards, and I expect that any socially conservative blogger you'd find wouldn't be any improvement over him.



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