08 September 2009

Wazzamatter, Tom?

This post, somewhat related to the untimely and rather hasty departure of Van Jones, needs a short introduction about my personal outlook on the Van Jones brouhaha, since some people may have interpreted it incorrectly.

I don't espouse especially right wing (or left wing) views, I am not anti-Green, as long as Greens behave in a sane and logical way. I am even not anti-vegetarian, although PETA made a travesty of the whole issue from a long time ago. I could even sympathize with some activities of Van Jones, and I am in no way shocked by his use of the word "asshole", although in Washington it is something better said in the privacy of one's office, for the ever-present microphones and posthumous/post-retirement bios.

It is Van Jones the Troofer that caused me to laugh and be merry at his political demise. When insanity creeps into exalted government posts, it is only fitting to be happy when one of its carriers is rooted out.

That's it, now we can move to the point of this post. Which is Tom Friedman and his amazing show of histrionics in this clip (via Gateway Pundit, thanks to Dick Stanley):



I would recommend to start viewing the clip from its end - the last few seconds with "It's flat out stupid!" repeated. I think you will agree that you see an overly agitated person, losing the reign of his emotions. A person who doesn't necessarily control (or think through) what he is saying. The problem is that he doesn't seem to have been in control from the start, judging by what he is saying on the subject of the Internet, specifically on the subject of blogging. The discussion is triggered by the above mentioned Van Jones affair. Apparently, it is Gateway Pundit (a blogger) who exposed the fact of Van Jones being a 9/11 conspiracy nut, as well as his link to the cop killer Mumia abu-Jamal. So you would expect that the two veterans of the press, luminaries such as Tom Brokaw and Tom Friedman would congratulate Gateway Pundit with his investigative success. Nope. Instead both plunge into a lively discussion of "Internet disinformation sewers". So lively that one starts suspecting that the "sewers" are personally affecting their livelihood (not very likely, if the Wiki entry on Tom Friedman is to be believed). The real question that should be asked while viewing that extraordinary in its vehemence attack on the Internet and the bloggers is not whether Tom Friedman is presenting the bloggers as liars (he doesn't) or whether Tom Brokaw sees some injustice done to Van Jones (he doesn't). It is rather a simple question that could be embarrassing for the two: why do they blame the bloggers for doing what should be essentially their job? In fact, Friedman doesn't even try to defend Jones in that clip, he clearly states so himself. Even in his rage, Friedman understands that it would be way over the top to defend a man, who, quoiting a Washington Examiner article:

...that he signed a 2004 petition supporting the so-called "9/11 Truther" movement; that he was a self-professed communist during much of the 1990s; that he supported the cop-killer Mumia abu-Jamal; that in 2008 he accused "white polluters" of "steering poison into the people of color communities"; that he was affiliated with an anti-American publication called "War Times" from 2002 to 2004...
I can understand the feeling of impotence Tom Friedman experiences, seeing a scoop being published by a blogger, when his own NYT, as same Examiner aptly notices "did not inform its readers about the Jones matter until after Jones resigned". I can understand his anger at his own chain of command in NYT that squashed and sat on the story for obvious political reasons. However, when Friedman starts yakking about the need of some "filters" and "judgment" to be applied to the Internet, this becomes way too much. I can discount some of the ire on account of Friedman's state of excitement. But when a progressive journalist throws his considerable weight on the side of censorship, this really stinks. Especially when discussion is not about this or another libelous article on that or another blog and not about injustice caused to a person as a result of some blogger's malice or rush to publish unchecked information. You would think that NYT folks have learned something from Walter Duranty and Jayson Blair affairs (to mention two cases) to wipe off that smug and false feeling of being the sole guardians of truth. Apparently not. Tom Friedman got one of his Pulitzers for "his clarity of vision", between other superlatives. But this clip doesn't show a single vestige of clarity, just a lot of malice and incomprehension. And total lack of vision. Because our name is legion, and we'll out-write, out-investigate and out-scoop you and your colleagues, given time. And time is on our side, don't you ever forget it.