Post Profiles Angry Blogger, Who Then Goes Forth and Multiplies

The paper profiles an outraged liberal blogger, and online scribes of all political stripes take it personally.

The Washington Post, a conspicuous target of irate leftist bloggers lately, took it upon itself to daringly profile rising blogstar Maryscott O’Connor, a woman who describes her writing output as “One long, sustained scream.”

Quite naturally, David Finkel’s front-page article “The Left, Online and Outraged” only ratcheted up the fury, giving bloggers of all stripes reason to let loose with yet more anger.

With Finkel’s profile (filled with the expletives of O’Connor and peers) in hand, wingnuts on the right charged that lefty bloggers are the most venomous and vitriolic out there. Moonbats on the left responded by charging that righty bloggers are even more venomous and vitriolic. O’Connor was called “the natural end of unmitigated hatred,” among other insults.

And, most notably for our purposes, Post scribe Finkel took a beating.

“I suppose if I con enough people into thinking I am an ‘angry blogger’ and kiss the asses of the A-list blogosphere, I, too, could make the Washington Post,” wrote Susan at Random Thoughts. “Pathetic,” contributed the Daily Howler. “There’s no other word for this front-page Post profile of fiery blogger Maryscott O’Connor.”

Why such anger? An annoyed Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings provided an example of one common gripe. “So: a reporter wants to write a story about blogs. He has never actually read a blog, but he had ‘a phrase weaving in and out of his mind: ‘The Angry Left.” Where did this phrase come from? We’ve already established that it couldn’t have come from actually reading blogs,” Hilzoy wrote, referring to O’Connor’s low-key account of her interactions with Finkel. “I think we can exclude omniscience, mind-reading, and divine revelation,” Hilzoy continued, leaving “the reporter’s preconceptions. He had this idea that there was an ‘angry left’ out there, and he set out to find it.”

Questioning “why the Washington Post felt it appropriate or even necessary to profile a blogger that is, in her own words, ‘insane with rage and grief,’” Chickenhawk Express concluded that, more than “an attempt to discredit bloggers,” the story was merely “cover” for the paper to bash Bush: “I think it was nothing more than an easy way to get another negative Bush message in print using a far left over-the-edge blogger as the article’s focus.”

Some liberal Web scribes, however, saw the story as something else entirely — “a classic ‘hit piece,’” as Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest put it, taking revenge on lefty bloggers for their role in the quick, embarrassing wipeout of the Post’s “Red America” hire, Ben Domenech.

Referring to the “appropriately unflattering picture of Maryscott in her bathrobe and keyboard ensemble, with a suitably anguished expression on her face” and other aspects of the Post’s coverage, Billmon at Whiskey Bar also called the piece “a classic journalistic hit job.” “[T]he liberal bloggers who dragged the Google swamp for the evidence of Baby Ben’s journalistic offenses not only cost a few brownie points with the White House, they humiliated the editors in front of all their friends,” Billmon wrote. “And by God, they’re going to pay, dammit! Do you hear me? Pay!

Firing back at the Post, Unclaimed Territory’s Glenn Greenwald saw a deeper purpose. Reviewing Finkel’s selective choices of “Angry Left” material, Greenwald wrote, “The crude tactics employed by this article are easily dismissed, but the objective of this article — to destroy the credibility of the blogosphere and what we do here, mostly because it is so threatening to the establishment media’s dying monopoly over the flow of information, news, opinion and analysis — should be taken very seriously. This is not some isolated hit piece.”

“[H]ere’s the thing that the right wing blogs in ecstasy don’t seem to get,” noted Musings of the Great Eric. “The article wasn’t an attack on liberal bloggers, it was an attack on bloggers. It wasn’t going after ‘The Angry Left,’ he was attacking the blogosphere. This is the old school media saying ‘Look! These bloggers are just nutjobs in bathrobes! Who could ever take them seriously?’ By joining the chorus and vilifying Maryscott, they’re only helping to prop up the real purpose of this piece: to marginalize and discredit the blogosphere.”

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Edward B. Colby was a writer at CJR Daily.