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Tilting at Windmills

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August 26, 2010

'NUTPICKING' HASN'T GONE AWAY.... I'd hoped we were past this.

Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported news that a Muslim cab driver in New York City had been assaulted by a passenger simply because of his faith. [...]

Today on Fox News, right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin discussed the incident and argued that the real story is not about the hate crime, but rather, the progressive blogosphere. "Something really ugly happened," she said. "Time and again, when something like this happens -- any random incident of violence -- there are people on the left with a knee-jerk impulse to indict the right." As evidence, Malkin pointed to comments left on ThinkProgress.

Note, Malkin wasn't offended by what ThinkProgress wrote; she was offended when she dug through the comments section and found reactions she found distasteful.

Ben Armbruster highlights the fact that Malkin insists she bears no responsibility for what people say in her own comments section, making her entire line of argument rather odd.

But when I say we should be past this by now, I mean this is an old trick for right-wing bloggers that ceased to be interesting years ago.

For a long while, it was a standard strategy -- trawl through liberal comments sections in the hopes of finding provocative remarks. The right then would then take those comments to "prove" that the left is made up of intemperate meanies.

The practice has always been rather self-defeating. In fact, four years ago this month, on this very blog, Kevin Drum came up with a sensible maxim: "If you're forced to rely on random blog commenters to make a point about the prevalence of some form or another of disagreeable behavior, you've pretty much made exactly the opposite point." Eventually, the practice was even given a name: "Nutpicking."

The practice seemed to die down for a while. I guess Malkin is trying to bring it back?

Steve Benen 4:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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In the spirit of bipartisanship, let me offer a hand to our right wing friends in the form of just such a comment:

I wish Malkin would get a job as a New York City cabbie.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on August 26, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Still waiting for the prize for coining the word!

Posted by: BlueMan on August 26, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the progressives blogosphere used its amazing telekinetic mind powers to force that poor, drunken racist moron to stab the guy driving his cab.

Yes, Michelle, that IS the real story. How wonderful of you to take the time to point that out for the Fox viewers that missed it the first time around.

Posted by: GuFromOhio on August 26, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Right wing radio entertainers and bloggers whip their uninformed audience into a racially charged frenzy. The fringe run out and kill Ob/Gyns, shoot up jewish museums, and stab cab drivers. While accepting no responsibility for the acts of violence , they then criticize the reaction of the left. Sweet.

Posted by: RolloTomasi on August 26, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

It takes a nut to properly nutpick.

Posted by: John McKay on August 26, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

One wonders what Milkin would have said if the driver was a white guy and the attacker a Muslim. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on August 26, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

For once I agree with Steve Benen.

The comments sections of blogs are the cesspool of political commentary.

Posted by: Al on August 26, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ms Malkin! Ms. Malkin! Over here, over here! Political Animal, a comment , a comment!

DAY sez Michelle Malkin is a dumb fuck.

-and a second opinion: she's also ugly. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 26, 2010 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Epistemology of Nutpicking must derive from nitpicking - or at least one could easily see the conceptual likeness between the two terms!

Nitpicking, the useful term, saw its usage rise in the late 1950s when it was generally observed people who were not happy with themselves would find unjustifiable criticisms to make about others as a way to justify their unhappiness.

It seems Malkin is using Nutpicking to nitpick others because she is nostaligic for the late 1950s! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on August 26, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I guess Malkin's back from her years in the wilderness after her whole S-CHIP-family-stalking fiasco...Oh joy.

With a seemingly never-ending supply of new wingnuts willing to peddle garbage, why do they bother trying to recycle the used ones?

Posted by: grape_crush on August 26, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Just read your post Al, and I'm glad you continually decide to contribute to Mr. Benen's stagnant subterranean comment threads, as you always bring that needed odorous effect here in your own happy way!

I say bully for you, Al! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on August 26, 2010 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Michelle Squawkin':

Waaaah! We're the REAL victims!

Not sure why she would want to bring back nutpicking. I guess if her readers start getting visits from the Secret Service that will give her something ELSE to whine about.

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on August 26, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

A populist movement based on defending the smallest demographic , supported by the most strained conflations that say they are unrestrained in their devotion to liberty and justice , while prominently celebrating interment . Willingly absorbing the collateral casualties and death , of opponents , while piously defending abstract representations of theoretical possibilities . Philosophically opposed to social institutions but overwhelmingly attached to them individually and statewide for rudimentary survival .
Ted Frier points out
...conservatives will simply move onto some other rationale for cutting government, and then another, and another, and another until they find one that sticks. But the rationale is only a pretext for an objective they had from the start ...
It isn't the meat its the motion , HW Bush finally gets his answer .

Posted by: FRP on August 26, 2010 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

For once I agree with Steve Benen.

The comments sections of blogs are the cesspool of political commentary.
Posted by: Al on August 26, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Welcome to The Cesspool Al. Your usual table sir?

Posted by: krazeeinjun on August 26, 2010 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked,shocked I tell you that M Malkin would be such a blithering idiot.

Posted by: Gandalf on August 26, 2010 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Be prepared to see a LOT more of this sort of tripe in the next 60 days.
The Republican/Tea Party dare not run on its' record - they wouldn't even get all the Tea Party votes if they did that. The GOP has no policy changes to offer, when cornered they offer only the ones that got us into our current predicaments. The only hope they have is to lie and mislead enough voters to get them to the polls and vote against the Democrats. My hope is that they succeed only too well and by stooping so low they cause a boomerang effect. Registered Democrats and Republicans MAY be more partisan than they used to, but the "independents" certainly aren't. If they vote, they'll support the sane candidates (hint, hint).
I'm not counting on it, but I'm hoping...

Posted by: Doug on August 26, 2010 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Michelle, if you're reading this comment, I think you're hot. Insane, but hot. You've got a purty mouth.

Posted by: Speed on August 26, 2010 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Time and again, when something like this happens -- any random incident of violence -- there are people on the left with a knee-jerk impulse to indict the right." -- Michelle Malkin

Yeah, 'cause we're all such blinded-by-ideology puppets of the knee-jerk-left. But, stay... wasn't it Miz Nutshelle herself, who, upon hearing of the Virginia Tech gunman, within minutes (and no evidence) declared it had to be a Muslim terrorist (probably well connected and paid), rather than some "random act of violence"? Perhaps that's how she knows so much about ideologically driven knee-jerk impulses?

Posted by: exlibra on August 26, 2010 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Nutpicking - it was used right here against me just this past Saturday. Surprised me, it did. Disappointed me.

Posted by: Ten Bears on August 26, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Nutpicking? Is that anything like what Lefty bloggers and the liberal mainstream media do when they point out stray objectionable signs at Tea Party rallies?

Posted by: bsnyder on August 26, 2010 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'd guess that Ms. Malkin posted the offending comments herself.

Note, please, that troll-style commentors thrive on anonymity. The racist signs were ignored - care to bet what would happen to someone with a Vote for Pelosi sign at a tea party rally?

Posted by: RepubAnon on August 26, 2010 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

@bsnyder....what liberal media?

Are you talking about the 2200+ hours of conservative talk radio per week (compared to 210 hours of "liberal" chat)?

Or perhaps the oft-quoted Cato, Heritage Institute, Hudson Institute, Creator's Syndicate (Michelle's handler), American Enterprise, et al.?

Tell me more, please.

Posted by: PJ on August 26, 2010 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

I applaud bsnyder for his use of context.

"Stray" as in "there are millions of stray animals running loose."

And the signs held by these animals can be pretty funny, too:

Posted by: BuzzMon on August 26, 2010 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe she is trying to change the topic away from people who call her "anchor baby?"

Posted by: Perspecticus on August 26, 2010 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Malkin couldn't find the earth on a globe. Who cares what she or her commentors think about any subject?

Posted by: FGS on August 26, 2010 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Michelle Malkin, like pretty much every other rightwing nutjob in the media, was originally fired from working as a journalist in Seattle, for "unprofessionalism." She then wrote a book lauding the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II, getting on the wingnut radar, and then using that to create a new career for herself, based on the fact that - unlike 95% of her supporters - she can string 5 words together in succession that make sense, thus demonstrating that she is both a "writer" and an "intellectual."

Not to mention that being Filipino, she made all the old white guys who live to watch Fux Snooze remember why they wanted to take a "sex tour" of Olongapo in the Philippines, the only place where wingnut sexual failures can find a girl young enough to be their grand-daughter, who will shriek "give it to me, big boy!"

Michelle Malkin: proof there is a later career for retired failed Olonogapo "boom-boom girls."

Posted by: TCinLA on August 27, 2010 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK
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