Friday, March 24, 2006

Blogity Blog

Fun day on the blogs. What do these two stories have in common?

1. Britney Spears "Pro-Life" statue.
2. Ben Domenech, erstwhile Washington Post blogger, resigns.

Nothing? Probably. The first is comical - quite a few blogs had links that took it (kind of) seriously - Pandagon, Pharyngula, Digby - though it turned out to be satire. There's a lesson in there somewhere about the right or the left - that someone could hesitate about whether that ridiculous thing was parody or not...

But meanwhile - Ben Domenech. Set up by the Washington Post as a blogger, more or less explicitly to provide a conservative voice - he wasted no time getting hammered by the left - see the Poorman's response to his first post. See Steve Gillard for the more serious issues - Domenech's race baiting. See - anyone you want.

What got him, though, was plagiarism. He swiped jokes from P. J. O'Rourke; he swiped movie reviews, starting in college and still doing it years later, for the NRO. He swiped news stories - he even swiped a top ten records list, though that turned out to be stealing from himself (on Crosswalk). This is very hard to believe - I guess people do it, but how could he not think he was going to get caught? Domenech responds here, whining about the rough and tumble of politics (which he's part and parcel of), then explaining away all those plagiarism accusations. Some of them - like the Crosswalk story - he's obviously right about - but really. Take a look at the Corner's comments again - they aren't out to get him, and they're coming up with stuff all over the place. "Put alongside other pieces that we're looking at and that have been linked to elsewhere in the blogosphere, it's hard not to conclude there was something amiss." There's so damn much - it's too much to believe that he would have dishonest editors at his college newspaper, the New York Press, and the NRO, isn't it? Is there anything more to his defense?

There's not much doubt the left went after him - bloggers go after one another all the time, and his appointment was very suspicious from the start. Domenech of course acts as if this is somehow the other bloggers fault... Meanwhile, some say that this is typical of the right - Oliver Willis, for instance: "This once again proves my point about conservatism being unable to exist outside of its self-created echo chamber" - I don't believe that. I think most of the big bloggers, on either side, could survive this kind of attack. Domenech did bad things - and did things that were bad professionally. I can't imagine that Glen Reynolds or Atrios or Charles Johnson or Ezra Klein would do something like Domenech - most people really do know better.

UPDATE: I do want to add something. First - that the kid (Domenech) probably got this job because of his connections in Washington - his father, his own job as a speech writer for John Cornyn (where he may have provided the culture with one of its great laugh lines - "It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle." It's one of the things this story does have in common with the Britney statue story - if you notice that the artist is from Williamsburg - if you notice that Domenech's father had connections to Jack Abramoff - the rest follows.

I also want to add that plenty of people on the web have suggested - joking or not - that the Post picked this kid knowing he would flame out, knowing he was a clown. And in the end - how would we know the difference? He turned out to be such a perfect disaster...

1 comment:

PZ Myers said...

Hey, I recognized the statue as irony to the max!