Yesterday, columnist Richard Cohen wrote a piece for the Washington Post entitled “Digital Lynch Mob,” about the venomous response he has received from readers after an earlier column criticizing comedian Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House correspondents’ dinner.
“Kapow!” writes Cohen. “Within a day, I got more than 2,000 e-mails. A day later, I got 1,000 more. … The Colbert messages began with Patrick Manley (‘You wouldn’t know funny if it slapped you in the face’) and ended with Ron (‘Colbert ROCKS, you MURDER’) who was so proud of his thought that he copied countless others. Ron, you’re a genius.”
“The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred,” adds Cohen. “This spells trouble — not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before — back in the Vietnam War era. That’s when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.”
“The hatred,” writes Cohen, “is back.”
To which bloggers have since responded en masse. Some sized up Cohen’s complaints and essentially noted: liberal hatred? Digital lynch mob? No kidding.
The headline from Michelle Malkin: “Welcome to Our World.”
“Newsflash, Richard: They’re still throwing rocks,” writes Malkin. “And hurling paint. And Molotov cocktails. And lucky for you, they save their worst invective not for squishy elite liberals, but for minority conservatives.”
“Yes, well, he ought to try posting something not-left-of-center over at the Huffington Post — because, by comparison, his email sounds downright friendly,” writes Carol Platt Liebau. “Sounds to me like the wrong-but-rational left is starting to become a wee bit afraid of the beast that’s been created — that is, the far-left Netizens.”
“The American left is where the American far right was in the 1950s — besotted with anger, boiling in conspiracy theories,” writes Austin Bay. “There is a difference, however. ‘Opinion leaders’ like Cohen have let the hard left take a large bite out of their own liberal ‘mainstream.’ Cohen has just now discovered it, because his email box got jammed with garbage. It is a step toward enlightenment, however hesitant a step.
“But read Cohen’s entire essay for yourself,” adds Bay. “Don’t snicker too harshly.”
But apparently much of the blogosphere didn’t get the don’t-snicker-too-harshly memo.
“Here’s my deep analysis about Cohen: GOTCHA!!!!,” writes Echidne of the Snakes. “Never show that you bleed, Richard. Never reveal the soft white underbelly to the ravening hordes of pulsing rocks of hate. I thought all the tough guy journalists and politicos know this stuff.”
“Poor Richard Cohen,” writes You Are Dumb. “He wrote a very stupid article about how Colbert wasn’t funny. For the Washington Post, by the way — widely known as the nation’s premier comedy experts. Anyway, the article got passed around the Net, and Cohen got a few thousand nasty e-mails about it. Cue collective shock and horror, I know. It’s only the way the Internet has worked since the day Al Gore thought it up. …
“If you’re that bothered by random strangers despising your opinion, quit writing for a newspaper and go to work someplace safer and less bruising,” adds You Are Dumb. “Something in, say, marshmallow tensile strength quality control. Clock in at 8, gently squeeze marshmallows for eight hours, and go home, never once fearing that someone on the Internet will write you a nastygram.”