Monday, October 31, 2005

Michelle Malkin takedown

Michelle Malkin is one of my favorite conservatives. Snappy. Witty. Snarky. Timely. And smart. I have linked to her site several times since I started blogging and will continue to do so, but after reading this assessment of Malkin I will keep a salt shaker handy as I read from now on.

Malkin continues unabated and unabashed, since being conservative means never having to say you're sorry. She's lately taken editors at the "MSM" to task for failing to join her in taking up cudgels against the spooky threat of creeping Islamism in the memorial to Flight 94 victims. More recently, there's been the Oklahoma suicide bombing and her confusion over the failure of the nation's editors to leap to the obviously dubious conclusion that this suicide was potentially part of an evil Islamist plot extending its tendrils to every corner of the nation.
This is just the latest in a string of encounters that David Neiwert has had with Malkin.
I have something of a history with Malkin. I edited her column at the Bellevue Journal American in the early 1990s, while she was syndicated through the Los Angeles Daily News. The LADN only ever employed her as a columnist. Likewise, when Malkin moved to the Puget Sound to go to work for my friend Mindy Cameron at the Seattle Times, it was only as a columnist.

Now, it's true that while at the Times, Malkin did make the occasional foray into providing original reporting within her columns. Indeed, she was rather eager to write various exposes -- but unfortunately, she had trouble doing the requisite legwork to make those exposes actually stick.

This is a long post with many links. Drilling into the links also takes a long time, but I read far enough that he got my attention. Whenever I think I'm ready to become more conservative, some really impressive writer like David Neiwert comes along and gives me a reality check. Being conservative means never having to say you're sorry....Now that's a great line.

And while we're at it, that Cathy Young article he mentions is a quickie and worth a read. She comments on what passed for reporting following the suicide bomber in Oklahoma a few weeks ago.

ON OCT. 1, a tragedy shocked the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman: 21-year-old engineering student Joel Henry Hinrichs III killed himself with a homemade bomb while sitting on a bench about 100 yards away from the university's football stadium, packed with 84,000 fans. Since then, this sad event has mushroomed into a story that touches on some important and controversial issues: vigilance and paranoia in the age of terrorism, and journalistic ethics in the age of the ''new media."
In the Hinrichs seems that the blogs and the mainstream media have brought out the worst in each other, with local TV stations picking up Internet rumors and feeding them back to the Internet.

And, yes, the hysteria has done real harm. The conspiracy theories on the right will still flourish even after the case is closed; meanwhile, many on the left will use this fiasco as an excuse to dismiss legitimate concerns about terrorism as right-wing paranoia and anti-Muslim bigotry. Hinrichs's family has been put through the additional hell of having to publicly defend a dead son and brother against accusations of being a murderous fanatic.

The mainstream media can be arrogant. But the bloggers and their readers are sometimes too willing to accept trafficking in rumor and speculation as a process from which the truth will ultimately emerge through the self-correcting power of debate.

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