Nonviolence.org readers may not be aware that my personal site has been the talk of the political internet for the last few days. Since posting an “account of getting a phone call from a CBS News publicist”, I’ve been linked to by a Who’s Who of blogging gliteratti: Wonkette, Instapundit, The Volokh Conspiracy, Little Green Footballs, RatherBiased, etc. For a short time yesterday, the story was a part of the second-ranked article on Technorati’s Politics Attention index.
A hack from CBS News called me to say they were doing a program on an issue that’s central to Nonviolence.org’s mandate: conscientious resistance to military service. After looking over the material, I thought the interviews of resisters who have fled to Canada would be interesting to my readers and so wrote a short entry on it. Thinking it all a little funny that a publicist would care about Nonviolence.org, I mentioned the incident in the “Stories of Nonviolence.org” section of my personal site. One by one the leading political sites of the blogosphere have run the story as further proof of the vast left-wing mainstream media conspiracy. It’s rather funny actually.
I have to wonder is who’s kidding who with all this feigned outrage? For those missing the irony gene: the Nonviolence.org PayPal account currently has a balance $6.18, the bulk of which comes from the last donation – $5.00 back on November 20th. My corner of the left wing conspiracy is funded by the vast personal wealth I accumulate as a bookstore clerk.
Wonkette’s pages advertise “sponsorship opportunities,” she’s a recent cover girl on New York Times Magazine, her husband is an editor at New York magazine and in October she cashed out her blogging fame for a $275,000 advance for her first novel (“It’s not Bridget Jones does Washington, it’s Nick Hornby does politics”: good grief). Eugene Volokh has clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court (for Sandra Day O’Connor), teaches law at UCLA and just had a big op-ed in the Times. Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds teaches law at the University of Tennessee, has served on White House advisory panels, and is a paid correspondent for MSNBC. Yet he, like the others, calls a two minute phone call “recruiting”?
I’m beginning to think the real interest comes from the fact that this top tier of bloggers is totally in bed (literally) with the MSM. Their income comes from their connections with media and political power. Their carefully-crafted fascade of snarkish independence would crumble if their phone logs were made public. They’re not really blogging in their pajamas, folks.
By mentioning the existance of blog publicists, I’ve threatened to blow their cover. Pay no attention to the men behind the curtains: my social gaffe was in publicly admitting that the mainstream media courts political blogs. Kudos to journalist Derek Rose on admitting the practice:
But why shouldn’t a news organization’s publicity department court bloggers? As a MSM member, I get emails from TV flacks all the time promoting their scoops. From ABC, for example, I’ve received emails regarding a tape they got of the Beltway sniper’s call to the Rockville police; Barbara Walters’ Hillary Clinton interview; and their ‘Azzam the American’ video … as well as a Rush Limbaugh drug laundering story that never panned out. I even got attention from publicists when I was working for a newspaper that didn’t have a 20th of the circulation of Instapundit…
Rose aside, there’s incredible distortion in the “reporting,” a term I have to use very loosely. Wonkette says “Kelley claims that a CBS minion put the screws to him to post something about a ’60 Minutes’ package on conscientious objectors” yet all readers have to do is follow the link to see I never said anything like that. Why do the cream of bloggers feel like a posse of self-absorbed seventh graders? When I started Nonviolence.org back in 1995, I thought the brave new political world of the internet might be All the President’s Men. Boy was I wrong: it turns it’s just Heathers. God help us.