I had a dustup with John Cole over on his site the other day. Normally I don’t take blog spats onto FDL (it’s a waste of time) but weirdly Glenn Greenwald’s mom saw it, emailed Glenn and Glenn emailed me laughing. Cole had written a smear job grounded on several outright fabrications, notably that the "Jane Hamshers of the left" routinely called soldiers war criminals for using white phosphorous weapons, and that I had attributed comments to Ben Domenech that he never made.
I’ve never written about white phosphorous, nor have I ever called soldiers war criminals. Cole’s defense? "The Jane Hamsher’s of the left" does not include me. No, I’m not kidding. I hounded him quite relentlessly for proof and eventually he found some equally contorted logic to try and squirm out from underneath the Domenech accusation (which was just as patently untrue), but not before even his own commenters had turned on him. He eventually scurried away to sulk in Dick Cheney’s bunker.
I probably would never have mentioned it again but Glenn wrote me the following email and I think he makes a valid point:
I do think that what he did illustrates an extremely important problem that you – given your past history leading the whole Jim Brady/Debbie war – are in the best position to comment on. It has become conventional wisdom that the blogosphere – and specifically the "Left blogosphere" – is filled with irresponsible, inaccurate, crazed commentary. The reality is – as the John Cole post shows, and as the whole Jim Brady/Debbie thing did, too – it is usually those who are making that accusation who traffic in inaccuracies and then cover them up when called on them. You basically did to John Cole what you did to Jim Brady – pursued with a shocking, relentless (and appropriate) tenacity their inaccurate comments to the point where – because they couldn’t admit error – they decided to resent and hate you instead and, by extension, the whole "Left blogosphere." So much of the hatred and demonization of the blogosphere stems from people who hate being held accountable for their statements and actions.
That’s the common theme I see in the John Cole, Wash Post, episodes, as well as even people like Joe Klein and the New Republic who hate the blogosphere because it holds them accountable, so they attack it with inaccuracies and irresponsible charges – in sum, THEY do what they accuse us of doing. I wrote about that once a while ago here – when attacking the disgustingly snotty anti-blog mentality at The New Republic, but it’s an amazingly important issue to protect the value of the blogosphere and you argue that as well as anyone. I can see using the John Cole inaccuracies to talk about this – he is representative of all the people who attack us with inaccurate and crazed charges. I thought one of the most significant developments of the whole Ben Domenech debacle was that the "left Blogosphere" – whom Jim Brady now HATES – did his job for him, and he was forced with great humility to genuflect to its value in his "Ben resigned" statement. You know that killed him, but we need more of that (and I think that Brady’s acknowledgment should be trumpeted) – people who previously depicted the blogosphere as a crazed fever swamp having to admit that we work as substantively and responsibly – often much more so – than the most established media outlets.
Ben Domenech is notable because he is the shining example of the moral and intellectual fiber of the right at present, not the exception. Cole pissed me off because he’s got nothing in the tank except a bunch of right-wing talking points — that liberals hate America, hate the military — and he doesn’t care if he has to invent facts out of whole cloth to make them fit the contours of his inchoate rage.
George Bush cannot admit he made a mistake with Iraq, and the commitment to arrogance of the authoritarian cultists is top down. Ben Domenech never would have admitted his error but for the fact that Red State was headed into the shitter — their own readers were turning on them — and the friends he lied to, the ones he stabbed in the back even as they defended him, had no choice to save their site but to give him the bum’s rush. Even then, wingnut bloggers continue to call Michelle Malkin a "traitor" and defend him blindly as a holy, persecuted martyr.
If this incident proves nothing else, it’s that we members of the "fever swamp" are vindicated in all our dealings with the Washington Post. And the right-wing blogosphere is a wasteland.