Gratuitous Snark

Extreme Mortman nails the Washington Post for a bit of MSM gratuitous snark toward bloggers which seems to me to demonstrates the self wounding cluenessness of the established media in understanding the Titanic nature of their predicament or even the basic power of bloggers to widen the hole in their bow.

The mainstream media keeps raising the bar on what bloggers have to achieve before they can be taken seriously as a political force. Voter turnout, candidate election, fundraising — the standards keep getting higher and higher. We thought we had seen every skeptical measurement, every goal line movement … until we read Tim Craig’s Virginia political round-up in the Washington Post this morning:

“Liberal bloggers may have helped Webb win the Democratic nomination for Senate last year, but they have yet to prove they can help a Virginia candidate win a general election in a district in which a majority of voters are more used to voting Republican than Democratic.”

One of his commenters Gullyborg who blogs at Resistance is Futile sums it up nicely:

It’s the same thing the media does with everybody. First you need to topple Saddam. Then you need to catch him personally. Then you need a new constitution. Then you need elections. Then you need… Thirty years from now… they will STILL be …saying “well, not everyone in Iraq can play a musical instrument yet…”

As we can see from the above two examples the side of politics isn’t the issue – it is a matter of form, not content. The MSM have developed the habit of patronizing their readers by pretending to have a superior view of issues even when they have nothing of value to say.

I found a corker of an example in a computer magazine – of all places – yesterday and I’ve been ‘mad as hell’ ever since. APC (Australian Personal Computing), the only magazines I still buy because it covers tech stories I have missed and Australian specific issues had a story on the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) initiative. The main story is about Joel Stanley, a young Aussie who won a contest to join the OLPC design team at MIT. It is entirely appropriate that an Australian publication should feature outstanding local talent. The gratuitous snark comes in a two column sidebar headed

Half a laptop per child – OLPC project gets off to a shaky start.

Because it isn’t available on line I’ll just say the article bashes the OLPC unrelentingly for the first two thirds of the copy and then grudgingly admits for a single paragraph it might succeed because it has the best technology and rounds out the piece with a neutral summary of the specs. Here is a sample:

The ideals were noble. but in practice things haven’t happened…The gaudily coloured OLPC – originally lined up as the $100 PC – has seen its price double in its two years of development, which has surely soured many potential purchasers of the system. Even if you were interested in getting one for yourself, the XO’s two weeks of public sales – sold under a charitable ‘Give one, Get one’ banner – will have ended by the time you read this.

Pfui! Where to begin? First, the start is just too new to be judged shaky. Things have happened – like it is actually in production. Then the fall of the US dollar has contributed significantly to the price rise. Even Aussie conspiracy theorists know that such things are controlled by a cabal of NY bankers, not the knuckleheads at MIT. Give snark, get snark. The similar Asus eee PC has doubled in price too (touted at $200, selling for $400) and the OLPC has expensive features like a screen that swivels to convert it into a tablet. Me, I give ‘em a big Aussie thumbs up and say good onya mate to the geeks at MIT. And I did get one under the ‘Give one, Get one’ offer which was open only to US and Canadian residents by having my sister in the US order it for my grandkids. Aussies just didn’t get this opportunity. Not only did Mr Snarky got his facts wrong he missed a golden opportunity to winge about the Yanks excluding the Aussies. There, now I feel better.


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