Friday, February 22, 2008

Always Opinionated, Sometimes Wrong, But Rarely Hackish

If, unlike me, you don't spend much time surfing the liberal blogosphere, you may have a general impression that it consists of highly partisan attack dogs whose primary interest is not the truth but rather finding weapons they can use against their enemies on the right.

Interestingly enough, this is actually not true--at least not when you consider the liberal bloggers I most often read (most of whom I link to in the blogroll on the left side of your screen). Case in point: reactions to the New York Times's recent story about McCain's relationship with a telecom lobbyist. If liberal bloggers were merely partisan operatives, you'd expect them to be hugging this story to their bosoms. After all, not only does it take a swipe at the man who is probably the most important conservative Republican of 2008, but it also puts a few dents in what is probably McCain's single most important political asset--his reputation as a straight-shooter above politics.

But no. Most of the liberal bloggers I read have spent the last two days criticizing the Times's reporting, questioning the story, and in many cases concluding that the piece should never have been published. Look, for example, at Kevin Drum, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Yglesias, Eric Alterman, Ezra Klein, and Greg Sargent, just to name a few.

Of course, all these liberal bloggers have continued to hit McCain himself--hard and fair--on issues where he deserves it, including those related to telecom lobbying. But they haven't hesitated to point out flaws in a story they would at least tacitly support if partisan hackery was their style.

And while this is a particularly striking example, it lines up with what I've usually observed in the liberal blogosphere. I'd go so far as to say that I recognize a higher degree of intellectual honesty in a typical day's offerings there than I do in an average op-ed page in the Times or the Washington Post. Which of course is one of the main reasons I invest time in reading blogs in the first place.

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