Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gloat not, Eric Boehlert

Checking for the latest news about Tucker Carlson's, I came across this recent gloatfest from Eric Boehlert of Media Matters:
[T]here is not one site in operation today on the right side of the Internet that consistently produces original and dependable journalism. And why is that? Because conservatives don't do journalism. They don't respect it and they don't have the foggiest idea of how to produce. They're clueless.
Now, as every regular reader knows, my reaction to Carlson's May announcement was not one of enthusiasm. Announcing at a Heritage Foundation luncheon that you're going to create the "Huffington Post of the Right"? Bad move. As I said, it had better not suck.

The seven months that have since elapsed -- first a projected July launch, then October, then November, now Jan. 11, with an announced capitalization of $3 million -- have not exactly inspired confidence. Neverthless, it occurred to me this evening that, my own profound doubts aside, failure of would give the Eric Boehlerts of the world an opportunity for more of their "conservatives don't do journalism" gloating.

So I've resolved to stop slagging Carlson and his project. He's obviously got enough problems without my perching on the bust of Pallas by his chamber door, croaking proclamations of impending doom.

UPDATE: Richard McEnroe of Three Beers Later commented below:
Not sure I agree with your decision to lay off Carlson.
Let me explain it by reference to Culture 11. I saw that as a debacle from the outset, but said so privately in an e-mail to a friend -- who had solicited me to write for the site -- and then mostly ignored them, until they started publishing idiot crap.

It would not be fair to continue slagging Daily Caller until we see whether it sucks or not. If Daily Caller turns out to be non-sucking, it will be a very helpful addition to the Right's online presence. And with $3 million in start-up capital, they're likely to be around more than the 6 months that Culture 11 lasted. As long as they are an ongoing effort of the Right, they are likely to have some beneficial impact.

I'm clearly on record about my doubts, so continued slagging would be redundant and vicious. And here's another analogy: John McCain. On the day Mitt Romney quit (Feb. 7, 2008), effectively ceding the GOP nomination to Crazy Cousin John, I resolved to vote Libertarian in November.

What was I to do, as a conservative political journalist, under those circumstances? Among other things, I covered the denouement of Hillary Clinton's campaign and the LP convention in Denver, and then turned my attention to the prospects for an Obama meltdown.

While much of mainstream journalism was swept up in the "historic Hope" theme, I noted with skepticism the Obama campaign's electoral calculus for winning without Ohio, and their belief that they might win Alaska (heh). And on July 14, I published this:
Evidence of conservative despair isn't hard to find nowadays in Washington.
"We're doomed!" one veteran communications operative of the Right exclaimed last week when I asked her to assess the current campaign.
Similar views are expressed privately by many other Republicans, including some professionally employed as part of the GOP election apparatus. Talking to them is like walking into the Redskins locker room before a Dallas game and being told by Washington players that the Cowboys are unbeatable. . . .
Perhaps overwhelmed by the media enthusiasm for Sen. Barack Obama . . . many conservatives seem to have accepted the Democrat's victory as inevitable, or even desirable. . . .
You can read the rest, but the point is that I can't stand to see a team just lay down and quit. Although there was never any possibility I could vote for my erratic cousin, nevertheless I wanted to see the GOP at least try to win the election. And the fact that there were people on the Republican Party payroll telling me they had zero hope of winning -- well, it infuriated me.

So I kept reporting about reasons to doubt Obama's inevitability until, finally, on Oct. 7, I published "How John McCain Lost," explaining that his endorsement of the Wall Street bailout had irreparably doomed the GOP ticket. (A verdict that has since been vindicated by every other account of the campaign.)

Looking back on the 2008 campaign, then, despite my vehement opposition to Maverick's nomination, I gave the Republican every benefit of the doubt until it was finally time to stick the fork in.

Same deal with Daily Caller. The possibility that it might succeed requires me to hope for its success -- or at least not to be a cheerleader for failure -- so long as there is a chance the venture can accomplish anything useful.

UPDATE II: Thanks to the commenter who tipped me to this background on Eric Boehlert's journalism career as a defender of jihadist professor Sami Al-Arian:
The American Left sprang to Al-Arian's defense. Their efforts included articles in The Nation and, whose reporter Eric Boehlert lamented "The Prime Time Smearing of Sami Al-Arian." . . .
One FBI surveillance video of Al-Arian's fundraising tour of American mosques showed him being introduced as "the President of the Islamic Committee for Palestine . . . the active arm of the Islamic Jihad movement." . . . Al-Arian declaimed, "God cursed those who are the sons of Israel ... Those people, God made monkeys and pigs ... Let us damn America, let us damn Israel, let us damn them and their allies until death."
In other words, Eric Boehlert defended a man as dangerous as Jeremiah Wright!


  1. What is journalism? Getting somebody in government to feed you info so you can pretty it up? Just because somebody wants to say something doesn't mean you're doing journalism.

  2. For certain "propaganda" values of journalism, Boehlert is correct.

  3. Not sure I agree with your decision to lay off Carlson.

    After all, "A Bad Plan Is Better Than No Plan at All..." -- George Armstrong Custer

  4. Hatred of liberalism or liberal claims, leads to the uniting of those on the right. What a wonderful conundrum. As far as I can see, the right is not sure what to think of Carlson, I believe he is a bad advocate for us and we don't need him, however, we shall see.

  5. Journalism indeed! Google 'Eric Boehlert+Sami Al Arian'. You might want to run with this Mr. McCain.