Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 23, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

VANITY FAIR LOOKS AT THE BLOGOSPHERE....James Wolcott's Vanity Fair article about blogs hasn't gotten an awful lot of attention in the blogosphere, something that I initially chalked up to the iron law of blogging: if it doesn't exist on the web, it doesn't exist. And Vanity Fair very decidedly doesn't exist on the web.

But it turns out there's more to it than just that. I shelled out five bucks for a copy of the April issue today and discovered that there's one half of the blogosphere that definitely wouldn't be linking to his piece even if it were on the web. Here is Wolcott explaining the radio spat that Andrew Sullivan started with Atrios in January:

That Sullivan...felt impelled to pick a fight with a lesser-known blogger was a sign of insecurity shaky status. It signifies the shift of influence and punch-power from the right to the left. It is Atrios, not Andrew Sullivan, who is in ascendance in the blogosphere. Only a few years ago the energy and passion were largely the property of the right hemisphere, where Sullivan, Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, and NRO's Victor Davis Hanson fired up the neurons against the defeatism, anti-Americanism, and death's-head specter of Islamic terrorism billowing from the ruins of Ground Zero.

....But I parted sympathies with the bugle boys when they repositioned their bombsights for Iraq....It was the ugly rhetoric, fathead hubris, and might-makes-right triumphalism that repulsed. Warbloggers hunkered into B-grade versions of the ideological buccaneers in the neoconservative camp. Punk-ass laptop Richard Perles, they excoriated dissenters as wimps, appeasers, and traitors.

....When I stray into these sites now, it's like entering the visitors' center of a historical landmark. The rhododendrons need dusting, and the tour guide isn't listening to himself, having done his spiel endless times before.

Have you guessed which half of the blogosphere probably won't think much of Wolcott's take? And yes, there's more like it.

That aside, this is a very personal article about the blogosphere, and aside from a woeful lack of attention to me it's a pretty engaging one. It's not your standard "In the beginning...." history of blogs, and it's written by someone who actually reads and likes blogs, not someone who treats his assignment as an anthropological mission to darkest Africa. That alone is a refreshing change.

To be honest, it's not worth five dollars. But if you see a copy of Vanity Fair in your local library you might want to check it out. Or if you're a fast reader, do it at Barnes & Noble.

Kevin Drum 8:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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