Villagers Defined

Blogger criticisms get under the skins of some mainstream (corporate) journalists. Time's Joe Klein is bugged that people out there hate him and his breed. We'll spare you the part of his essay where he erects a false equivalence between independent bloggers and Fox News. But the part where he describes "Villagers" such as himself (reposted on Hullabaloo) shows that he at least comprehends the problem:

In the snarkier precincts of the left-wing blogosphere, mainstream journalists like me are often called villagers. The reference, so far as I can tell, has to do with isolation: we live in this little village on the Potomac — actually, I don't, but no matter — constantly intermingling over hors d'oeuvres, deciding who is "serious" (a term of derision in the blogosphere) and who is not, regurgitating spin spoon-fed by our sources or conjuring a witless conventional wisdom that has nothing to do with reality as it is lived outside the village. There is, of course, some truth to this. Washington is insular; certain local shamans are celebrated beyond all logic; some of my columnar colleagues have lost touch with everything beyond their armchairs and egos.

"Serious" isn't a term of derision per se--it's used ironically whenever an utter fool is held up as an expert (Newt Gingrich has serious views on foreign policy). Klein also omits to mention a major plank of the left's "snarky" complaint, which is that Villagers take their daily talking points from sites like The Drudge Report (ABCNEWS's political director and the national politics editor of the WASHINGTON POST once famously wrote "Drudge rules our world") and pack the chatting head shows with Republicans. The number of times John McCain has appeared on Meet the Press and the like staggers the mind, since he was the loser of the last election and generally has nothing to say on the topics in question.

In the Time essay Klein professes surprise that anyone would object to a government mandate to buy insurance from private companies who overcharge customers and deny coverage on a whim. But it upsets him that people think he's one of the pundits who have "lost touch" with everything. The "far left" critique that "Washington is controlled by crooks and sellouts," as he phrases it, is very different from the "far right" critique, which is more along the lines of "Washington is controlled by liberals who want to kill babies and grandmothers."

They Made Me Interview Him

I asked Deborah Solomon of the New York Times why she interviewed Bush torture memo author John Yoo:

TM: Do you regret interviewing John Yoo, author of the Justice Department memos that claimed that President Bush was legally entitled to ignore laws prohibiting torture?

Solomon: No, I had to interview him. It was my job. As a journalist, I had a public. The public needed information.

OK, that didn't really happen (satirical license and all that). Here's the conversation that actually ran in the Times:

Solomon: Do you regret writing the so-called torture memos, which claimed that President Bush was legally entitled to ignore laws prohibiting torture?

Yoo: No, I had to write them. It was my job. As a lawyer, I had a client. The client needed a legal question answered.