Dispatches > The Buzz

Blogwatch

Buzz From Online Journlas of Politics & Culture

Issue: "Capitol stampede in Texas," Aug. 9, 2003

The blogosphere remains largely jubilant over the news that Uday and Qusay Hussein are dead. "Lexington Green" of the Chicago Boyz blog (chicagoboyz.net) hoped that the brothers' deaths would discourage other attacks on the United States: "This sends a powerful message to the whole world in a language Neanderthal man would have understood. These guys took on the USA and its allies, and now they are dead." Uber-hawk Andrew Sullivan (andrewsullivan.com) agreed. "The best part of this event is that it focuses us back on what really matters: not quibbles over intelligence lapses months ago, but the war against terror and tyranny now ... no one but a few crackpots can be anything but thrilled by this news." Crackpot or no, Steve Gilliard of Daily Kos (dailykos.com) worried that the brothers' four-hour firefight would become the stuff of legend: "They're going to be spun as heroes throughout the Arab world.... You can bet within the month, drawings of their last gunfight will be all over walls throughout the Gulf."

Blogging can be considered the antithesis of traditional media, and there is nothing bloggers enjoy more than criticizing their centralized, better-funded older brothers. Deanna Wrenn, a reporter for the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, filed for the British wire Reuters an article about Jessica Lynch's homecoming. Instead of Ms. Wrenn's generally balanced story, which celebrated Miss Lynch's return while mentioning that "reports vary about Pfc. Jessica Lynch and her ordeal in Iraq," Reuters ran an anti-American screed: "Jessica Lynch, the wounded Army private whose ordeal in Iraq was hyped into a media fiction of U.S. heroism, was set for an emotional homecoming.... Media critics say the TV cameras will not show the return of an injured soldier so much as a reality-TV drama co-produced by U.S. government propaganda and credulous reporters." Ms. Wrenn's only contribution to the story was one quote near the end, taken out in later versions that nonetheless ran under her byline, even after she asked that her name be removed, leading Glenn Reynolds (instapundit.com) to ask, "Isn't 'byline fraud' at least as bad as Jayson Blair's 'dateline fraud'? ... Reuters should be ashamed. Experience suggests, however, that it won't be."

Bloggers also enjoy a good uproar about the latest academic kookiness. Psychologists at the University of California-Berkeley went through 50 years of conservative writings and attempted to ascertain the psychological factors that lead to conservatism. They found five: fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity, uncertainty avoidance, need for cognitive closure, and terror management. Prof. James Lindgren e-mailed the Dissecting Leftism blog (dissectleft.blogspot.com) in full debunk mode pointing out numerous studies that show that conservatives are happier than liberals, happiness not usually being connected to fear and aggression. However, the most astute comment came from Justene Adamec at Calblog (calblog.com). Quoting the study as saying, "This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes," Adamec observed, "that explains all those people on the Bushlied meme [the much-repeated theme that Bush lied]. They're secretly conservative."

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Will the mini-scandal over African uranium and the State of the Union ever end? Steve Hadley, No. 2 on the National Security Council, is the latest bureaucrat to accept blame for the miscue, but lefty Washington insider Joshua Micah Marshall (talkingpointsmemo.com) agrees with rumors that ultimately it might be National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice who gets the ax: "If Rice goes it won't just be as a fall-gal for the uranium business." While acknowledging that the job "requires slapping all sorts of people around," naturally creating enemies, Mr. Marshall thinks that Ms. Rice isn't enough of a disciplinarian. "One hears many stories of her presiding over meetings in the professorial manner of a seminar leader, asking interesting questions, and leaving the issue as unresolved at the end of the meeting as it was at the beginning."

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