Debating a Dinosaur

Why George Will Doesn’t Understand the Blogosphere

Every now and then, I make the mistake of reading one of George Will’s columns. This is because George has a knack for finding interesting topics, which gets me to read, but he constantly proves his own bias and error in his columns, which causes the regret. On this occasion, Will started by taking on TIME magazine, for its narcissist trick to sell covers by appealing to the readers well-fed egos (link Courtesy of Real Clear Politics).

So far, a good choice, especially since TIME magazine’s predilection for how they discuss certain personages and their portrayal is more than slightly tilted to the Left. Unfortunately, before very long Will starts in bloggers. And in so doing, he displays the sort of ignorance and prejudice which he ostensibly finds poor practice in others. A good example is this section from the column, where Will writes:

There are expected to be 100 million bloggers worldwide by the middle of 2007, which is why none will be like Franklin or Paine. Both were geniuses; genius is scarce. Both had a revolutionary civic purpose, which they accomplished by amazing exertions. Most bloggers have the private purpose of expressing themselves, for their own satisfaction.”

Certainly it must be acknowledged that there is a good deal of dreck in blogging, and that many bloggers are in fact just as vain as Will suggests. However, Will throws out diamonds with the sewer water, and his comments not only assail a large number of very fine bloggers and astute minds, his column seems to imply that the old-school media is not even more arrogant and self-indulgent. I should like to ask you, Mister Will, who is more credible:

Kofi Annan or David Limbaugh?
Katie Couric or Little Green Footballs?
Rosie O’Donnell or Betsy Newmark?
Dan Rather or John Hinderaker?
Joy Behar or Lorie Byrd?
Mike Nifong or Hugh Hewitt?
Harry Reid or Bill Roggio?
Ray Nagin or La Shawn Barber?
Joel Stein or The Anchoress?
Mike Wallace or Bruce Kesler?

You get the idea. Between the old media and their chosen figureheads to adore, there is much to criticize and precious little to praise, especially compared to the Blogosphere in similar efforts. As the Rathergate scandal demonstrated, many bloggers are intelligent and skilled professionals, whose dedication to much higher standards than anything exhibited by the New York or Los Angeles Times is beyond question. Some write well, some are amazing at digging below the surface, and as Bill Roggio and Michael Yon have demonstrated, some back up their claims with action, going to the source even across the world, far beyond the self-imposed limits by the nominal media to verify claims and deliver true reporting. You owe them better than derision, Mister Will. You owe them respect they earned years ago. The fact that you are paid well as the MSM is, should not mean you side with them against bloggers, who pursue truth often for its own sake, rather like Tom Paine and Ben Franklin, though you have shown you are slow to admit that fact.

I should not be too hard on George Will, I guess. In some respects, he is simply showing loyalty to the media he knows; print and television. That does not make him right, however, and he really needs to discover what tens of millions of Americans already know – that the blogs supply entertainment, conversation, debate, information and education on a scale beyond anything the Mainstream Media can even dream of. Not that the MSM is going to become obsolete, but commentators who don’t know what they are talking about may expect to lose their readers and viewers. And that includes self-important columnists, even George Will.

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