Friday, December 24, 2004

In Defense of the American Prospect

Winds of Change reports that the American Prospect is throwing around legal threats at a blogger and anyone who even dares to reprint his "defamatory and false allegations."

The particulars of this are messy and the blogger in question, one Steve Sailer, doesn't seem like any angel. Still, is this how media outlets are supposed to act? No.

But of course the Prospect isn't really a media outlet and the folks who work there aren't really journalists--they're political activists. Not that there's anything wrong with it!

I only point this out by way of suggesting to Winds of Change, Glenn Reynolds, and others, that this action from the Prospect shouldn't be much of a surprise. (Consider the "journalists" the Prospect employs.) And unlike actual journalists, activists owe no particular devotion to honesty, objectivity, or free speech--except as it suits their interests. They should be free to use legal intimidation however they see fit.

So please, let's not have any hand-wringing over the American Prospect's "crushing of dissent." They’re not being hypocritical or unseemly or anything else bad. They’re just doing what they do.


ed said...


So American Prospect should be forgiven because they are activists and aren't journalists? Ok then. In the age of the Internet and blogs what exactly IS the definition of a journalist? And how is that different from an activist?

Is Dan Rather a journalist? Isn't Dan Rather, with regard to President Bush, an activist as well?

Frankly when people try to combine journalism with ethics, I just laugh. Yellow Journalism has never gone out of style.

Anonymous said...

The "moonbats will be moonbats" defense. Cute.

Maybe throwing a rock through a McDonald's window is also less of a crime when the rock-thrower is an "activist"?

Anonymous said...

Let's see how "activist" defenders of The American Prospect react if Steve S.'s supports chip in enough $ to hire a law frim to send intimidating letters to individual American Prospect staffers.

Or how about "activist" friends of Steve obtaining the home telephone numbers and addresses of TAP staffers?

"Activists" can call American Prospect staffers in the middle of the night to express and manifest "activist" memes. Also, said "activists" can send TAP staff persons anonymous paper mail messages reminding TAP staffers that "activists" know where TAPers live.

The endas justify the means, doncha know. There's no such thing as moderation in the defense of virtue.

Steve said...

Interesting post, and it ties in neatly with another piece I just read comparing partisan reporting to traditional journalism.

Frankly, I'm not sure if this guy is serious or not. But anyone who is still making an arguement FOR Dan Rather (even if it's not a particularly enthusiastic one), probably deserves some attention. Or scorn. Or both.

I never thought I would be saying this, but I think departing CBS anchor is getting a bum rap. Yes, he's certainly made some mistakes recently, and I think even he would admit that he's not the most natural news anchor in the business. But many of his critics are using him as some sort of pinata, as they whack away at all the things they think are wrong with the broadcast network news business.

Anonymous said...

"the American Prospect is throwing around legal threats at a blogger and anyone who even dares to reprint his "defamatory and false allegations"

No, the American Prospect made unfounded accusations that Sailer was a racist. Sailer pointed out the American Prospect writer attacking him had herself been subject to bogus accusations of racism by a third party ('Ana Sofia'). TAP then made legal threats to Sailer and anyone else making reference to the accusations of 'Ana Sofia'. Sailer himself never accused TAP of racism, he only pointed out the hypocrisy and irony of TAP's position.

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