By: Dave Astor
When Ted Rall wrote a column Tuesday criticizing conservative blogs, it was no surprise that conservative bloggers would respond.
One of them, Edward Morrissey, wrote that Rall’s “problem is that he expected bloggers to exist only to agree with his radical beliefs. Of course, that’s Rall’s idea of free speech.”
Rall had revealed that, given the need to monitor the mainstream media, he was initially thrilled by the explosion of blogs. “Once you spend some time surfing this ocean of likeminded righties, however, you realize the awful truth: the ‘populist’ blogosphere is cowing the mainstream media even further into submission to the powers that be.”
The Universal Press Syndicate columnist, whose weekly feature has 40 clients, added: “At a time when simply having a conservative Democrat spar with a conservative Republican is enough to earn the tag ‘fair and balanced,’ the fact is that the political blogs are dominated by the hard right. Such a development might have served as a laudable counterbalance during the 1930s, a period of liberal political hegemony. But when talk radio, cable television news, and all three branches of the federal and most state governments are under the control of the right, the blogger wolf pack merely serves to further ossify a dangerously out of whack ideological imbalance. Moreover, conservative blogs mirror their mainstream counterparts by applying a far angrier and more violent tone than that of their liberal foes.”
Rall — who also does editorial cartoons for 150 clients via Universal — cited three examples of threatening language used by Republican bloggers, including one who wrote: “When I flush the toilet, it isn’t considered violence, is it? So killing Ted Rall should be no different.”
Among the bloggers responding to Rall’s blog piece was Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters. He wrote: “What qualifications does Rall have to write opinion columns for Universal Press Syndicate? He draws cartoons — badly — and expresses opinions similarly. I don’t pay much attention to him as a rule, as he generally makes almost no sense whatsoever, and [his Tuesday] column is a perfect example.”
Writing in her blog after Rall’s Tuesday piece, Creators Syndicate columnist Michelle Malkin called the Universal commentator a “liberal bigot,” and added: “Keep stepping in it, Ted. It’s the only (mildly) funny thing you do.”
Rall told E&P in a phone interview that some of the reaction to his column was “more restrained than usual.” He attributed this to his column mentioning the “far angrier and more violent tone” of conservative bloggers. So, Rall said, they didn’t want to prove his point by getting too nasty.
The columnist/cartoonist acknowledged that some bloggers have expertise in what they discuss, but many don’t. And he wondered how many bloggers are “fake independent voices” actually being funded by the right — or, in some cases, the left.
“I’m a fierce critic of the mainstream media, but the right-wing blogs are not an improvement,” he added. “Right-wing bloggers are trying to destroy the mainstream media, but they don’t have a plan for the occupation.”
Rall said mainstream journalists — while often wrong or biased — do reporting and sometimes take risks before writing stories. “A 48-year-old doing a blog in the basement of his parents’ house? That’s fine. That’s the First Amendment,” he told E&P. “But it ain’t journalism.”