War Zones, Real and Virtual

Today in the 'sphere, the debate over Ben Domenech's "Red America" flameout continues, and Lara Logan draws praise for her spirited defense of the reporting being done in Iraq.

The fallout from the newest young plagiarist to be exposed — Ben Domenech — and his resignation from the Washington Post’s recently launched “Red America” blog continues, with conservatives lighting into one another.

On RedState.org, the blog Domenech co-founded, some of the writers are unhappy with Michelle Malkin’s call last week for him to resign. Machiavel, in a post titled, “Michelle Malkin: Dead to Me,” claims that those taking shots “don’t know Ben, so it’s easy for them to criticize a faceless blogger in order to take an abstract position against the monstrous actions he stands accused of.” Apparently, Machiavel thinks it’s only fair to take on people you know — which would wipe out a good chunk of most blogs’ content. (We can’t help but wonder if Machiavel knows Malkin, or if he’s, you know, just being hypocritical.) Either way, “Beware befriending Malkin,” the blogger warns, “Because the moment something goes wrong, you will be thrown under the bus. You will be judged before you have a chance to speak. And whatever mea culpa you offer will be judged inadequate for 120,000 readers to see.” Judging before the accused has a chance to speak? Why, that doesn’t sound like the blogosphere at all.

John Hawkins at Right Wing News wasn’t having any of it, and rushed to Malkin’s aid, writing that “Newsflash, geniuses: Michelle was absolutely right and Ben was not only absolutely wrong, his huge flameout was so prominent that it was actually bad for blogging. If you want to be mad, be mad at Ben. He’s the one who handed the left a club to beat him with by article after article. He’s the one who put National Review in a position where they felt compelled to apologize to their readers for posting Ben’s plagiarized work.”

In other bloggers-in-the-news news: Markos Moulitsas of leftie blog Daily Kos was on Howie Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday to promote his new book and discuss how blogs are influencing politics today. Politico CafĂ© wasn’t happy with what they viewed as Kurtz’s “mischaracteriz[ing] the nature of the allegations against Ben Domenech” by bringing up only instances of Domenech’s plagiarism from his college years and ignoring the stuff he ripped off while writing for National Review’s Web site. Politico complains, “Certainly Kurtz must have known” about the NRO plagiarism, “So, why does he try to pass off the Right Wing talking point about the instances of plagiarism only being during his college days (i.e., youthful indiscretion)? Well, he tells us why — to defend Jim Brady and the WaPo … Not exactly sharp media analysis, is it? Of course, why would Kurtz want to bite the hand that feeds him, right?”

Also on Kurtz’s show was CBS Baghdad correspondent Lara Logan, whose defense of criticism she and her colleagues are receiving for not reporting the “good news” from Iraq lit up the blogosphere. Roll the tape:

Kurtz: But critics would say, well, no wonder people back home think things are falling apart because we get this steady drumbeat of negativity from the correspondents there.

Logan: Well, who says things aren’t falling apart in Iraq? I mean, what you didn’t see on your screens this week was all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up, all the allegations here of militias that are really controlling the security forces.

… You don’t think that I haven’t been to the U.S. military and the State Department and the embassy and asked them over and over again, let’s see the good stories, show us some of the good things that are going on? Oh, sorry, we can’t take to you that school project, because if you put that on TV, they’re going to be attacked about [it], the teachers are going to be killed, the children might be victims of attack.

‘Oh, sorry, we can’t show this reconstruction project because then that’s going to expose it to sabotage.’ And the last time we had journalists down here, the plant was attacked. I mean, security dominates every single thing that happens in this country. … So how is it that security issues should not then dominate the media coverage coming out of here?

Logan’s comments, according to For Family and Friends, are “one of the best rebuttals to the Bush Administration (and their supporters, such as the silly and predictably partisan commentator Laura Ingraham) and their ongoing efforts to blame the media for their failures in Iraq.”

The Daily Background was also floored by Logan’s spirited defense of the Baghdad press corps, writing, “Holy shit, she whooped some serious ass, and made some excellent points. Seriously. I’m serious. Go check out the video now.” After watching the clip, The People’s Republic of Seabrook agrees with Logan, writing that “No matter how much we might like it to be otherwise, Iraq is simply not a nice story. You can’t spin murder and beheading. The sooner the spinmeisters on the Right stop their whining and recognize the reality that currently is Iraq, the less meaningless propaganda we’ll be subjected to — not that we should reasonably be expecting that anytime soon.”

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Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.