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Friday, January 27, 2006

Comments or no comments. Indeed.

At the risk of boring my few readers I want to talk a little about the issue surrounding Glenn Reynolds and weblog comments. For background it all seemed to stem from this Washington Post discussion. Glenn, like many others, chooses not to have comments on his website. I think that is fair enough, there is no reason why he should have to have comments if he does not want them; people do not have the divine right to comment on his posts on his weblog. There is no issue of free speech here, you can say what you like if you get yourself a weblog of your own - just as I am doing right now.

However, I just want to point a couple of things out over the reasons stated by Glenn as to why he does not have comments. From the transcript:

I think that one reason has to do with media treatment. Charles Johnson, for example -- who does have comments -- has repeatedly faced media stories about his site in which comments made by his readers are directly attributed to him, as if he had written them. I certainly worry about that sort of thing, too.

OK fair enough. But the story did not end there, instead it was taken up by Stephen Spruiell at NRO who pointed to a subsequent story from reuters as vindication of Glenn's statement:

The article, which ran on the Times opinion page on Tuesday, was quickly linked on conservative sites across the Internet, where readers poured scorn on Stein, on the newspaper and on liberals in general.

"If I ever run into the a**hole, I'm going to knock his frickin' block off," one man wrote on the Little Green Footballs ( Web site, one of nearly 500 people who had commented on the article by mid-afternoon.

Emphasis mine.
Glenn then linked to this and said:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reuters proves my point about comments and the press very nicely, with a quote from LGF. Thanks, Reuters!

But hold on Glenn, that did not prove your point at all. NRO tried to say that it proved your point but then used weasel language:

The article doesn't directly attribute the comment to Charles Johnson, but his Web site is nevertheless represented in the mainstream press by this comment, which he had no control over

So in actual fact the comment was rightfully attributed to a commenter and admittedly might have been used unfairly in characterising the general tone of the conservative comments. But the main point here is that it did not do what Glenn Reynolds said that he was worried about, ergo it is in no way a vindication of what he said. I don't want to get into the debate over whether LGF was really represented in the media by that quote or if it was defaming. Especially as one could make the argument that Glenn had already done that:

I find the comments on Atrios, Kos, or for that matter Little Green Footballs, to be tiresome.

So LGF is tiresome is it? That's hardly a good representation in the mainstream press is it? OK I am not really serious here, but one can see how the two things mirror each other.

To clarify my position, Glenn could well be right to fear about misrepresentation in the media and I take his word for it that what he has described has happened. What I take umbrage with is this claiming of some sort of victory when there was none. It stinks of exactly what we complain about in politicians: saying one thing and then claiming that something tangentially related proves their point. We take umbrage with them and so it is right that those who comment on politics should be held to the same standard. Of course this could simply be a mistake on Glenn's part, perhaps he did not read the NRO article properly because he is certainly intelligent enough to see that what he originally said and what he claimed as a vindication were not the same thing at all.

I have emailed Glenn about this, and I know that it might seem a small thing but I just feel it is important that someone like Glenn, who people go to for useful information and links, should be held to the same standard that we should hold our media friends (I miss Spinsanity, bring it back!). I have not received a reply from Glenn, hence this post. I do not think I am being ignored, i think it is more to do with the fact that Glenn gets hundreds of emails everyday and there is only so much time in a day. In addition, I email from my Yahoo account and I often worry that it gets picked up by spam filters.

Indeed from what Glenn says in his latest post on this issue, I would not be at all surprised if my email never made it. That said I think that this plan, from a commenter here, is juvenile and sefl-defeating. I hope that nothing emerged from it.

Funnily enough I just saw parallels between what NRO said:
...but his Web site is nevertheless represented in the mainstream press by this comment, which he had no control over
and what Mister Snitch did:

A seemingly endless diatribe blaming Reynolds' famous lack of comments for most of the world's ills sets off a comment suggesting that the left send him hate-mail,

Of course the latter is hardly mainstream press so it is not really comparable but I thought it was vaguely amusing. Heh.


Boo said...

I am the ghost of NOOOOOOBODY CARES

Kav said...

The beauty of blogging: it doesn't matter if you don't care, it's my site.