Friday, December 11, 2009

Emphasis on 'slightly'

"Stacy McCain is Hunter S. Thompson with better political sensibilities and a slightly healthier lifestyle. Ace of Spades is the smartest and funniest guy you’ve ever met in your life. You should read their blogs several times a day, and you should send them money. Thus endeth the sermon portion of this blog post."
-- Joe B., NoVaTownhall

And let all God's children say, "Amen." Also, the reason I call him "Joe B." is not because he's anonymous, but because his last name is one of those buy-a-vowel deals -- like Wlady P. at the American Spectator -- and I'm too lazy to look it up.

Joe and I go way back to 2006, when I was blogging for Donkey Cons. That blog nearly got me fired from The Washington Times -- an interesting lesson in Journalism Ethics.

Long story short: The editors sent me down to Georgia to report on the 2006 GOP primary for lieutenant-governor, which pitted Ralph Reed against Casey Cagle. Meanwhile, at the Donkey Cons blog, I was reporting the exclusive scoop: Ralph Reed is a two-faced crapweasel.

Just a neutral, objective fact, but my editor (Ken Hanner, who is now managing editor of Human Events) didn't see it that way, so I was (a) ordered to stop blogging, and (b) placed on a rigorous 90-day probation that kept getting extended -- to about six months -- because I wasn't scrupulous about complying with the absurd jumping-through-hoops requirements of the probation.

Weirdest thing about it? My editors had given me permission to blog independently to promote the book, but ignored what I was doing until my Election Night analysis of the Reed-Cagle race got quoted in Hotline, Congressional Quarterly's daily summary of major political news. My editors always considered it a coup when anything from The Washington Times got quoted in Hotline, but the Hotline citation of my analysis nearly got me fired.

Over beers at a Reason magazine happy hour this summer, Ken Hanner admitted that I was never employed to my fullest capacity at the Times. I kept telling my bosses that, but they never believed it until after I quit, went freelance and turned a Blogspot site into a phenomenon whose "controversial" status is both lucrative and (mostly) accidental.

"Controversy" is just another word for "publicity" and there's no such thing as bad publicity. To repeat: Just because you don't know what I'm doing, don't assume that I don't know what I'm doing.

Journalism Ethics lesson? Ethics, schmethics. Just get the facts right and to hell with everything else.

Neutral, objective fact: Joe B. of NoVaTownhall is a gentleman and a scholar, even if I can't spell his name. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Joe.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know which is more self-affirming, to be linked by The Other McCain or to be linked thereto AND having the post tagged with "Ralph Reed". I'll take it any way I can get it, of course. Merry Christmas to you and the McCain household also, sir.