Tuesday, April 8, 2008

If Althouse is the Payless Paglia

does that make Megan the Target Althouse? (N no, Megan, that's not a complement. Pricier mass produced crap is still mass produced crap.)
Megan has officially given up on doing anything but preaching to her choir, the only ones who "get" her. Thus she can begin in responding to Glenn Greenwald with a huge ad hominem.
Reading is fundamental:

Sigh. Glenn Greenwald lashes back. Mr Greenwald's anger at the establishment power structure seems to be rapidly transmuting into anger at the non-Glenn-Greenwald power structure:
Yes, Megan, NYTimes bestselling author and big dog blogger Glenn Greenwald, who you effectively trolled for the cheap boost in your traffic a derisive link from him produces, sure is bitter about his lack of success. Unlike, say, your outstanding achievements in wankery and asskissing.
Obviously, I know who John Yoo was, and what he did. From the point of view of the American public, however, he is a minor government functionary, much like--oh, say, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Please try this exercise: without using Google, name the US Trade Representative. The chair of the CEA. The head of OFHEO. The other members of the Federal Reserve's FOMC. The deputy secretary of the Treasury. The head of the White House Office of Management and Budget. The current commissioners of the SEC. The Chairman of the FDIC. The leaders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

I know all of their names, because that's my job. I am willing to bet that Glenn Greenwald couldn't name all of them on the spot; he might well not be able to name any of them. That's no slur. Almost no one whose professional life does not depend on the knowledge has any idea who they are.
This might be the single stupidest paragraph or so I've ever read. I've read the websites of schizophrenic conspiracy theorists who have a better understanding of their own place in the world than Megan evinces here.

Dear Megan,
Who gives a flying ratmonkey fuck that you know these things? Most cell phones today have access to Google. Your amazing wisdom is worth about 30 seconds saved time. You know what is important? Knowing the hows and whys of the most fundamentally unamerican act by our government since... McCarthyism? Nixon's illegal wiretapping? Reagan's manipulation of the hostage crisis? Pick your poison.
To the great American public, these are, yes, minor government functionaries--minor functionaries whose rounding errors probably result in more lives saved or lost than could ever plausibly be attributed to John Yoo. I do not like this fact, but I do acknowledge it. Nor do I think that yelling at journalists will much change it.
If this is true, then Megan is sitting on a major story. She knows men and women whose small failures in their jobs literally cost.. what dozens?, hundreds? of lives, but doesn't report on it. If Megan wants to pretend to be a journalist, she just admitted to being an absolute failure at it. (I know, she was being hyperbolic.)
I do not mean to thereby conflate torture with economic development; the former has a moral horror, even in small numbers, that even very bad development policy lacks--which is why, yes, the Holocaust is worse than the Ukrainian famine. But if torture is important enough to be front page news, so is knowing who is responsible for guiding trade policy in the world's leader on liberalisation, who will be steering us through a financial crisis that could cause economic problems around the world, and who is working on fixing the globe's deepest and broadest capital markets.
So there it is, Megan does, as Greenwald said,
think[] that John Yoo is basically the DOJ version of Lynndie England -- just some low-level guy who went off on his own and did some isolated, unauthorized bad things in the past that our political leaders have now corrected.
It's not about torture, it's about John Yoo, boring legal guy. Issues have nothing to do with anything, journalism only involves specific people.
Moving on, M. already noted the beginning of the following, but there's even more
Greenwald error number two: I don't cover politics; I cover economic policy. These are not the same thing, which seems like the kind of thing that people who set themselves up as media critics should be aware of.
How can Greenwald call himself a media critic if he doesn't know specifically what Megan does? And, ummm, Megan? If you don't cover politics, why do you post about the topic so often?
And given that I write about something that roughly 99% of the population considers less interesting than the newest diet fad, it's clearly ridiculous to assert that I am happy about the American public's raving disinterest in complicated policy stories. I spend much of my life whining to editors that the eight paragraphs on financial math are really interesting, dammit!
... we're talking about torture, Megan.
I am not defending John Yoo, or his memos, or the government's behavior. I am simply pointing out that when it comes to the journalistic coverage of same, Mr Greenwald has the correlation running the wrong way: the public doesn't know because it doesn't care, not because the journalists don't want to tell them. If the public did care, Mr Greenwald would have more readers.
Fuckin plebs, huh?
Frankly, his assertions sound bizarre, even lunatic, to anyone who has ever met a journalist or a newspaper editor. And the later part of his rant, during which he accuses me and Dan of supporting the media establishment because it is helping us cover up our war crimes, ranges into the kind of frenzied conspiracy-theorizing that I generally associate with Ron Paul's more wild-eyed supporters. You know, the ones who tell you that when the rEVOLution comes, you'll be the first one with your back against the wall. The ones who aren't really arguing with you, but rather using you as a stand-in for everyone they've ever disagreed with, including the kids who made fun of them for wetting their pants in first grade. The ones who are filing their bizarrely capitalized missives from atop the massive stockpiles of canned goods and ammunition they have stored in an abandoned copper mine.
Everyone in the club says he's a doodyhead, and if you're not in the club but a writer you're de facto a crackpot, what with that whole torture is unamerican and illegal and that's only one of countless crimes against the Constitution and people of the United States committed by this Administration line of thought. Mistakes were made, sure, but how else are we gonna learn? Sure, it sucked for the people of New Orleans then, but if there's another hurricane they won't make the same mistakes again, and look at how many people are already evacuated, or dead.
I'd also like to take this moment to remind you that Megan McArdle writes these words as a paid employee of The Atlantic.
Let's finish up.
Now, some of my readers are arguing that we journalists have a duty to give the public what they don't particularly want. Okay, well, you really should know how to calculate a bond duration; if you have fixed income investments, as you should when you're near retirement, you'll want to know the weighted average maturity in order to balance your income across time. The mathematics for simple instruments is fairly easy; I can explain it in perhaps ten minutes of moderately involved reading, then you'll want to spend perhaps an hour or so doing excercises at home to make sure you've really nailed it. Ready?

That's ridiculous. You didn't come here to be bored by some formula you can look up if you need it; you're here to talk about foreign policy!

. . . oh hear that hollow laugh. That, my friends, is the sound of an eager young journalist's soul dying just a little bit every day.
That eager young journalist isn't Megan, tho, thankfully. She never had a soul, plus she doesn't cover politics.
I need a break, I'll get to Megan's extended argument on the stupidity of the average media consumer after I grill a steak n drink a beer.


Blake said...

Who do you do those blue block quotes?

My posts on Megan's site where I quote her don't work as well.

brad said...

I had to mess with the code for the site, it's not an html trick. I don't even quite remember how I did it.

spencer said...

"the non-Glenn-Greenwald power structure"

This is another of Megan's recycled joke; she used it several months ago when writing about one of her ex-boyfriends. I notice it only because I thought it was mildly amusing the first time. However, it seems not to hold up well under repeated usage.

Clever Pseudonym said...

I hope you enjoyed that steak and beer. After this takedown, you deserve it.

"I know all of their names, because that's my job."

I have a hard time believing it's anybody's job to know those names by heart. Especially, since Brad pointed out, in the age of Google, you could learn them in a four second click. It's not like she's going to dinner parties with them or anything. I'm sure we'd hear about it if she did. A person like her couldn't resist the name-dropping.

Anonymous said...

"I spend much of my life whining to editors that the eight paragraphs on financial math are really interesting, dammit!"

What? Has she actually written eight paragraphs on financial math recently? She has editors dictating what she can write about? Presumably, financial math would be more along the lines of what editors want her to write about anal discussions of the proper way to melt butter.

And who cares if Greenwald can't name a bunch of government economists? That's not his job. I doubt either Greenwald or Mcardle can name the ambassador to Botswana, but there are surely some people out there for whom that is relevant information for their jobs.

spencer said...

Anon raises another point - since when does Megan actually have an editor?