Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Burning Issues of the Day

I have been slow to comment on Ward Churchill - probably because the controversy is so obviously manufactured, and because there's not much I might say that hasn't been said already. It's boring! But I do want to put something up - here's Brien Leiter commenting at some length on the case, on Churchill's actual argument and whether any of it comprises a firing offense. And the Volokh Conspiracy, not surprisingly, has a very intelligent analysis fromt he conservative side. (Here, by the way, is the thing itself - and a more recent revision.)

I can't add much. I think this is mostly about intimidation. Kevin Drum runs down the chronology - a local story, an AP story, a New York Post story, Joe Scarborough, O'Reilly, The Washington Times, " the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune Review - and then the New York Times - and then the world. Sez Drum:

It's fascinating how a trivial story like this managed to spread so far, isn't it? The right wing machine pushed, the New York Times responded, and then the rest of the press followed. Within days, the previously insignificant Ward Churchill had become a household name and a virtual poster boy for lefty nihilism based on something that no one on either the left or right had cared a whit about in the three years since he wrote it. Truly an object lesson for us all.

Or as Majikthise put it, "brutal political theater. In a dazzling display of demagoguery Bill O'Reilly, Joe Scarborough and their minions spun a hackneyed 3-year-old essay by a nonentity into a scandal that culminated in death threats and demotion." I think that is what it has all been about - smacking down someone, not so much because of what he did (however loathsome - "depraved", says Eugene Volokh - it might have been), but in order to show their power.

Meanwhile - cramming All The Great Issues of the Day into One Lazy Post - this story is just mind boggling. (Beware! naked reporter pix within!) It's one thing when the guy lobbing softball questions to Scott McClellan and President Bush is an amateur hack, writing for a fake news site run by a partisan organization. It's another when he's using a pseudonym. And another when he's plagiarizing from White House press releases. And another when he has gay-themed personal ads up on AOL. But when he registers gay porn sites? No - he registers gay escort sites? No, he is a gay escort?

What the fuck?

And this guy had access to information about Valerie Plame?

Anyway, I imagine sooner or later the right wing might have to stop missing the point - like here, trying to turn Russell Mokhiber into a left wing version of Gannon. That can't work, can it? Gannon maybe got criticized for being a hack - but he got run out of town on a rail for being a criminal. (And, of course, for the hypocrisy - you know, the Bush White House, defenders of decency and traditional values and all, using a gay prostitute as a plant in the press. Oh, the irony! Oh!) It's not about his politics (though that is where it started - but it would have stayed as ridicule and abuse if that's all there was) - it's not about his personal life, per se - it's about the fact that his personal life turned out to be so incredibly disgusting.

Anyway - the best source of information has beena nd remains, Americablog.

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