Truth In Labeling

Recently, I had a bit of a flare-up in a series of skirmishes I’ve had with a “diarist” over at Daily Kos. As has happened more than once, I offended enough of the readers over there to get some of my comments “HR’d” — which means that enough of them thought they should be removed that it was removed. Or hidden. Or something.

That’s when I was reminded of something that I knew going in, but let myself forget: Kos’ site is not for open discussion. It is not for open exchange. It is not for freewheeling conversation and dialogue. Kos himself spells out the site’s mission:

This is a Democratic blog, a partisan blog. One that recognizes that Democrats run from left to right on the ideological spectrum, and yet we’re all still in this fight together. We happily embrace centrists like NDN’s Simon Rosenberg and Howard Dean, conservatives like Martin Frost and Brad Carson, and liberals like John Kerry and Barack Obama. Liberal? Yeah, we’re around here and we’re proud. But it’s not a liberal blog. It’s a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory. And since we haven’t gotten any of that from the current crew, we’re one more thing: a reform blog. The battle for the party is not an ideological battle. It’s one between establishment and anti-establishment factions. And as I’ve said a million times, the status quo is untenable.

There it is, in black and white. Kos’ entire purpose is to advance the Democratic Party. Period. Whatever advances that goal is good; whatever detracts from it is bad. That is the only metric that applies — ethical and moral principles be damned.

In that respect, it reminds me of Media Matters For America. They’re often accused of hypocrisy for their laser-like focus on attacking Fox News and the right wing, while overlooking even worse offenses on the left.

Nonsense. They’re not being hypocritical. They’re being true to their stated principle:

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Note that key word — “conservative.” Their only problem is when conservatives give out misinformation. They don’t care when liberals do it. Hell, they don’t care when they do it. The only real problem is when conservatives do it. So their “blind spot” is not accidental; it’s by design. They are not a “media watchdog” group; they’re a liberal watchdog group whose whole purpose for being is to attack conservatives and provide cover for liberals.

No dishonesty, no hypocrisy. They’re up front about it — if you’re willing to look and take them at their word.

And that puts me in mind of how I’ve never put forth my own “mission statement,” my own statement of purpose for why I blog. I’ve never actually put it in words, but here’s a rough stab at it:

I blog to express my opinions on matters that I find important, and believe I can make interesting for the readers. My purpose in doing so is to generate responses from others, both to seek affirmation and to expose my thoughts to criticism with the intention of improving my understanding of matters. I will make mistakes on occasion, even be flat-out wrong at times, but what I write will be as accurate as I can make it at the time of writing and be an honest portrayal of matters as I see them.

Of course, like any good rule, there are exceptions. One of my proudest pieces was one where I laid out a whole series of opinions that were, quite frankly, lies. I stated beliefs as my own that I do not hold. I said I believed in many things that I do not believe in. But thanks to the magic of blogging, I was able to express “I don’t believe any of this, but I’m saying so to make a series of very pointed political points” without having to say so in so many words. (Damn, that was a fun piece.)

Do I always live up to those previously-unstated principles? Hell, no. I don’t have the resources and staff that Kos and Media Matters have here at Stately Tea Manor. I’m a solo operation, and a part-time one at that. I do what I can.

So, keep that in mind when dealing with Kos, and Media Matters, and others of their ilk: look for their declared purpose. In many cases, they’ll tell you up front what their biases are. They can be remarkably open about their prejudices.

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