I have been debating whether I should say anything about Pajamas Media’s
ridiculous publicity stunt important contribution to the world of journalism. Because it is clearly a publicity stunt and the sort of thing an organization comes up with mainly for fundraising purposes, I don’t want to invest it with very much significance and give the farce more attention than necessary, but there are a couple things worth saying. First, this does say something important about the miserable state of the conservative blogosphere as a journalistic medium, and it also tells us something about the thorough Palinification of the right. Palin was praised and embraced because of her perceved ordinariness, and her lack of expertise was regarded by her admirers as an advantage and a desirable trait, and now we are treated to the journalistic equivalent of Palin’s qualifications for the position she sought. In journalism as in politics, standards, qualifications and expertise are now to be thrown out; average-ness, ordinariness and ignorance are to be prized as proof of one’s authenticity. Like Palin’s pseudo-populism, which actually helps preserve and strengthen the hold the establishment has by making populism idiotic, this sort of “amateur” journalism does more to discredit amateurs and reinforce the pretensions of professional journalists than anything else. Far from marking the beginning of a serious rivalry with such outfits as TPM, this heralds the irrelevance of the conservative blogosphere as a vehicle for journalism.
Perhaps even more significant is the complete misunderstanding of the reaction to Joe the Correspondent, according to which Joe is to be admired because he annoys liberals. Unlike Palin, who really did inspire a visceral and vitriolic reaction among many liberals, the ascendance of Joe the Plumber has generated mostly confusion and bafflement mixed with delight that conservatives are so out of it that they have made such a person their icon. Much as many on the left fervently hope that the GOP is foolish enough to nominate Palin in the next election, they can only be overjoyed that the conservative blogosphere, rather than turning into an effective vehicle for political opposition, investigative journalism or policy advocacy, is turning into a caricature of the McCain campaign by continuing to elevate this man in such a prominent way.
Like the McCain campaign, PJTV’s correspondent decided to go to war with the rest of the media on his first day in Israel. By now I imagine most people are familiar with his call for journalists to be banned from war coverage, following by his pining for the good old days when government propaganda films were the order of the day. Indeed, in light of the Israeli elections committee’s decision to ban two major Arab parties in the forthcoming elections, I wonder if Joe was similarly “reminded” of the harrassment and imprisonment of dissenters that were official policy during WWI or perhaps he also fondly “remembered” the closing of opposition newspapers and jailing of dissenting editors and politicians during Lincoln’s war. Presumably these tactics would meet with his approval–we wouldn’t want to “down” our soldiers, after all.