Last week, both conservative and traditional media outlets did their best to turn some hateful and inappropriate statements about Vice President Cheney by anonymous commenters at liberal blogs into a broad commentary on the left in general. As Glenn Greenwald predicted, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz devoted his column to the “scandal”:
Stray, anonymous comments prove nothing. And those who rely on them to make an argument — especially without bothering to make any effort to prove that they are reflective of anything — should be presumed to have no argument at all. That is why they are relying upon such transparently flimsy and misleading methods to make a point.
During a WashingtonPost.com chat on Thursday, a reader confronted national political reporter Lois Romano about the coverage: “Selectively quoting anonymous posters from any political blog is shoddy ‘journalism’ at its worst. What does Mr. Kurtz have to say to defend himself on this?”
Romano had nothing to say about Kurtz. Instead, she bemoaned the “new viciousness in the process often generated by the blogs,” and likened herself and other reporters to Cheney, complaining that “we are not spared” the “nasty, vulgar e-mail” produced by “liberal blogs.”
Romano: We are watching the blogs, and just this month The Post assigned a young reporter to cover Internet campaigning. There certainly is a new viciousness in the process often generated by the blogs. You need to know that we as reporters are not spared — if we write an article the liberals blogs do not like we will be inundated with nasty, vulgar e-mail — which has no impact on our coverage.
While “liberal blogs” are lumped together with a tiny unrepresentative sample of anonymous commenters, the hate speech by leading figures of the conservative movement is ignored: today’s Post coverage of the Conservative Political Action Conference makes no mention of Ann Coulter’s inflammatory “faggot” remark.