December 22, 2008

One of the great lessons of the blogosphere: never Palmieri on an Yglesias.

"Maybe it’s just me, but this post is kind of creepy." That's the first of nearly 500 comments on a post at Matt Yglesias's blog -- a post that is not written by Matt Yglegias. Here's the post:
A Special Note Re: Third Way

This is Jennifer Palmieri, acting CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Most readers know that the views expressed on Matt’s blog are his own and don’t always reflect the views of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Such is the case with regard to Matt’s comments about Third Way. Our institution has partnered with Third Way on a number of important projects - including a homeland security transition project - and have a great deal of respect for their critical thinking and excellent work product. They are key leaders in the progressive movement and we look forward to working with them in the future.
If "the views expressed on Matt’s blog are his own," then what the hell is this? Lady, you are on Matt's blog! How did you get there? Did you just barge in like some burglar in the night? Do you know the first thing about blogging and a blogger's relationship with his readers?

I'd never heard of "Third Way" until I read this post. Now, I think it sucks. Not because of something Matt once wrote about it -- which I hadn't noticed -- but because of this completely creepy intrusion into Matt's space. Why didn't Palmieri email Matt and ask him to quote a statement from the Center for American Progress Action Fund? Maybe she did and he refused. But either way, the invasion of a man's blog is unjustified, wrong, and also stupid. It's stupid, because even if you don't mind pushing around a respected blogger, you're doing it where everyone can see.

Let me quote some more of the comments:
"Why did Matt leave The Atlantic? This ‘bullshit’ post reveals the limits how independent-minded one can be when associated with this website. (Not to say CAP doesn’t do a lot of good - it does) I think this really is a big deal - Matt needs to decide if he is a independent thinker or an activist. This post shows how hard it is to be both. Did he even approve this post - on his blog?"

"Think of all the posts that didn’t merit a ghostly materialization of the CEO! Perhaps CAP really does support all those other views of Matt’s. The CAP Action Fund hates turkey."

"Next post from Jennifer Palmieri: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia."

"VERY CREEPY. that being said, matt said he left the atlantic because he wanted some skin in the game. well, i think perhaps his indy days gave him some impolitic ticks that now coming back to bite him now that he’s part of The Movement."

"Fuck off Palmieri. If we were interested in what you thought, we’d read it on your own blog. Jeez."

"Sadly, after his workplace retreat in the Pine Barrens, Matt was never heard from again…"

"Dear Jennifer, Nice boneheaded move. Dear Matthew, You left The Atlantic for this? Take your fucking balls—er, blog—back man, and perhaps you won’t suffer a loss of readers. This is just embarrassing."

"Jennifer, fabulous job. In one short post, you managed to focus attention on Matt’s original post, convince folks Third Way is nothing but a bunch of lame frauds, alienate loyal readers, cast a pall on CAP’s credibility, and possibly shoot your job prospects in both feet. Heckuva job."
And Kos has posted on it too:
The Center for American Progress should not make a habit of doing this.

And for the record, the editors on the site can say whatever they want about whoever and I won't get all creepy and Big Brother on them.

p.s. And yes, the Third Way is a bunch of assholes who make the DLC look downright palatable.
Kos points us to the original Yglesias post:
I’m getting sort of tired of the endless discussion of whether Barack Obama is a wholesome liberal or an evil centrist, but I have to say something about one aspect of this story:
“Barack Obama has never made any bones about it: He is a moderate,” said Matt Bennett, co-founder of Third Way, a moderate public policy think tank. “People who ignored that did so at their peril.”
Third Way is a neat organization — I used to work across the hall from them. And they do a lot of clever messaging stuff that a lot of candidates find very useful. But their domestic policy agenda is hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit. There are a variety of issues that they have nothing whatsoever to say on, and what policy ideas they do have are laughable in comparison to the scale of the problems they allegedly address. Which is fine, because Third Way isn’t really a “public policy think tank” at all, it’s a messaging and political tactics outfit. But Barack Obama’s policy proposals aren’t like that. At all. Nor do personnel on his policy teams — including the more ideologically moderate members — stand for anything that’s remotely as weak a brew as the stuff Third Way puts out. And yet, Third Way loves Barack Obama and says he’s a moderate just like them. Which is great. But everyone needs to see that these things are moving in two directions simultaneously. At the very same time Obama is disappointing progressive supporters on a number of fronts, he’s also bringing moderates on board for things that are way more ambitious than anything they were endorsing two or three years ago.
The irony is: I'm the sort of person who actually likes the sort of thing Matt would call "hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit." I voted for Barack Obama because I was betting that he really is a pragmatic moderate. And now Palmieri has made me hate the Third Way.

We have now learned one of the great lessons in the history of blogging: Never Palmieri on an Yglesias.

UPDATE: Yglesias now has several posts since Jennifer Palmieri dropped that turd on his blog. One obliquely refers to the stink:
As we’ve clarified, speaking as ever purely for myself and not as an institutional position of CAP/AF, Third Way’s First 100 Days agenda strikes me as pretty weak tea. For starter’s here’s their retirement security agenda [blah blah blah].
Sample comment:
“As we’ve clarified …” We?
More sympathetically:
What’s going on here is pretty obvious: Matt doesn’t like that Third Way demanded the editorial wrist-slap that appeared on his blog, but doesn’t want to directly criticize his boss. So, having covered CAP’s ass with the previous post, he is now going to make a project of picking on Third Way with special relish. What is it people want Matt to address here, exactly?
AND: Julian Sanchez says it well:
It’s like they made a list of the dozen ways they could’ve handled some minor internecine friction—including just ignoring it—and asked: “Which of these is really guaranteed to blow up in our face in the most self-defeating way possible?”...

So congratulations, Third Way, a whole lot of people who’d never heard of you now know exactly one thing about you: You’re thin-skinned whiners.

AND: Yglesias finally gets around to addressing the question directly, not that he says anything interesting.

40 comments:

save_the_rustbelt said...

Matt Yglegias is the kind of guy who can build a wildly overrated reputation on the blogosphere.

Other than writing and blogging I can't see where he has ever done anything of substance.

Much of what the left does is creepy, but they are in charge for the next four years.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Other than consulting and blogging, I can't see where save_the_rustbelt has ever done anything of substance.

amy.kovach said...

This whole thing confuses me - doesn't Matt have to allow her to post on his blog? So didn't she post this with his permission? She didn't truly 'barge in' (i.e. hijack) to his blog? I'm not savvy on the finer points of operating a blog. Can someone address this?

rhhardin said...

This is very difficult to follow. Somebody's feelings were hurt, I gather.

So. How's the weather?

Hoosier Daddy said...

This is very difficult to follow. Somebody's feelings were hurt, I gather.

Kinda reminds one of those hissy fits high school girls get into when they get pissed at each other.

So. How's the weather?

It was a balmy 1 degree here in Hoosierland shooting for a high of 16 by 2pm.

I'm not sure I can handle much more global warming.

Bissage said...

Mr. Yglesias got off easy. No community service. No written apology. No sensitivity training classes.

His only punishment was an internet straight-arm from the boss as she dashed to the rostrum.

Ms. Palmieri used to come down much harder.

When Stig O' Tracy transgressed the unwritten law she had Dinsdale Pirahna nail his head to the floor.

But she’s mellowed over the years . . . in a hyper-timid incrementalist kind of way, that is.

Chip Ahoy said...

This is interesting from a blogging point of view. But that is all. Everything else, the content of the dispute could not be more uninteresting. Why so? Because the very word "progressives" is risible. It's arrogant. The word "compulsives" would be more accurate.

Also, just as I seem to be impervious to oration that grabs so many others by the heart, remaining utterly unmoved when faced with it, when not annoyed by it as an affront, so too am I unmoved and annoyed with the expression used for the title of the book that brought this Harvard graduate initial recognition, that is the phrase "heads in the sand," something something something. See? I can not pay attention to the thing that follows that incredulous beginning. If this is intended to conjure a visualization of an ostrich, which because of early cartoons is widely believed to stick its head in the sand to avoid seeing danger, and it does refer to that, then my brain immediately rejects everything that image supposes to represent. The brain also dismisses the author for having used the phrasing. Once and for all, ostriches do not do that. It's quite impossible. Does the author have any idea how compacted the "sand" is on the grounds were these birds dwell? Does the author imagine ostriches to live on loosely sanded beaches? Does the author imagine an air breather wouldn't suffocate were they to do such a thing? Perhaps the author is calling all similarly ignorant people to buy his book. And don't give me this crap about it being only an expression. It's stupid. Whoever uses this phrase to make a point automatically forfeits the point. And this from Harvard! Goodbye progressive, I have kittens to Photoshop and meals to photograph.

MattG said...

This is an interesting story because it tells us something about the future of political blogging. Although there are a few indies out there, many of the popular political blogs seem to have been absorbed into larger organizations--- traditional media companies, political magazines, and think tanks. It's something of a trend.

So the real question here is how this trend will play out. Will salaried bloggers still be free to express their opinions, or will they be more beholden to their employers? And if their employers have a specific agenda, then what happens when a paid blogger fails to toe the line.

Some on the conservative side of the fence might not find this question so interesting. After all, when a guy like Bruce Bartlett criticized George Bush's policies, everybody knew his ass would be gone from NCPA. Some might say that intellectual freedom is not a treasured virtue in that corner of the political world.

But in general, freedom of expression is very important to the online left. A think tank can, of course, force its writers to stay in line--- but they may not get much readership or respect out of it. Even relatively movement-oriented sites like Kos are pretty free in what they allow their editors to say.

So some people are watching this little incident because they want to know whether it's possible to work for a progressive think tank and still be free to have your own opinions. Others are watching because they want to know how much they can trust the independence of bloggers in Yglesias's situation. And still others are watching to see how much/little CAP has learned about PR in the Internet age.

jdeeripper said...

Yes, welcome to another Battle Royal between the political equivalent of Star Wars nerds fighting heroically with the Star Trek geeks for ULTIMATE CONTROL OF THE UNIVERSE!!!

John Althouse Cohen said...

This whole thing confuses me - doesn't Matt have to allow her to post on his blog? So didn't she post this with his permission? She didn't truly 'barge in' (i.e. hijack) to his blog?

Where are you getting that from?

Amy said...

From this in the original Althouse post above:
If "the views expressed on Matt’s blog are his own," then what the hell is this? Lady, you are on Matt's blog! How did you get there? Did you just barge in like some burglar in the night? Do you know the first thing about blogging and a blogger's relationship with his readers?"

Donald Douglas said...

Ann: You're way too nice to Yglesias. Who cares about a fellow blogger's plight when he's so hip to slam every moderate-to-conservative under the sun with the most filty language imaginable.?

All of this, by the way, tells us a lot about the priorities of Democratic insiders, as I wrote:

"Remember the debate about a "center-right nation? Stuff like this demonstrates it better than ever. It's actually funny, however, that both Yglesias' original post and then Palmieri's subsequent smackdown reveal that no one involved in this debate's got a shred of class."

Maguro said...

Is Yglesias with the Judean People's Front or the People's Front of Judea?

MayBee said...

Do you know the first thing about blogging and a blogger's relationship with his readers?

I sooo don't believe there is anything universal about blogging or a blogger's relationship with his readers.

Blogging is a way to write down words. It becomes whatever an individual makes it. If the individual is being paid to write words by a third party, the relationship is no longer between readers and the writer.

I really don't like the idea that blogging is...something. It is anything.

Lem said...

My aluminum wing nut antenna is rising.

Could this be a shot across the bow to left leaning bloggers that the new sheriff OB will not tolerate any dissent?

Check Ramhs Blackberry.

Who called from the Office of the president-elect ;)

Ann Althouse said...

Donald Douglas said..."Ann: You're way too nice to Yglesias. Who cares about a fellow blogger's plight when he's so hip to slam every moderate-to-conservative under the sun with the most filty language imaginable?"

He is an important blogger, and this problem transcends the political slant of his blog. But I like Matt and have done 2 Bloggingheads diavlogs with him. He had a great position with The Atlantic that most bloggers envy, yet he gave it up supposedly to become more politically active, and look what happens. I'm interested in the dynamics and ethics of blogging. And I want to be part of the outcry so that people learn a lesson -- and it's the lesson that I've stressed here, not Matt's personal plight.

Doyle said...

I knew Ann would love responding to Donald Douglas's comment that she's too fair with meany liberal Yglesias. She loves being nonpartisan!

But really it's a pretty interesting story and it doesn't reflect well on Yglesias as much as it reflects extremely badly on CAP/Palmieri, so there's no reason to ignore it for political reasons.

You may have missed that after about 100 comments, Palmieri went into the comment section to post her email address and instruct people to "Send me angry emails" presumably instead of commenting.

So clueless. I'm a big Yglesias fan (in general, I'm not crazy about his economic coverage) and it sucks to see him get put in this position. An independently wealthy, fiercely principled blogger would quit over this.

MayBee said...

Here's an article from Politico about the non-transparency of CAP.
http://tinyurl.com/6khlpu

John Podesta, Melody Barnes, and Tom Daschle are all associated with CAP and with the new administration/transition team. Jennifer Palmieri is expected to get a job with the administration as well.

For all the supposed rules in the blogosphere, there are almost none about transparency (especially financial). You can't have a relationship with a blogger if you have no idea what his motivation is.
Palmieri merely demonstrated that in the case of Yglesias (as for many bloggers) there is a man behind the curtain. So it was positive she did this! She let us in on a secret that some bloggers want to hide from us.

madawaskan said...

This stuff-or kind of stuff has always happened.

One weird supposedly well known "fact" is that the general public only read--

the headlines very few of us do more than that....

What's the one thing writers claim they don't have control over-the title or headline of their articles.

So ediitorial boards of publisher's have never given up control of that one thing-a headlline-that controls the whole meaning and/or tone of an article.

Ever read an article that didn't jibe with the headline-or even contradicted it?

In blogging ever notice how the commenters just seem to have read the headline-and jump right in and comment?

Do a test sometime-change the meaning of a headline by burying something in about the third sentence of the second to last paragraph or hell even the last one.

You'll start to notice-but hopefully a lot of you have noticed that already.

Trooper York said...

I got all excited when I read that this guy was blogging about a three way but when I went to original post it was all political bullshit.

Doyle said...

Palmieri merely demonstrated that in the case of Yglesias (as for many bloggers) there is a man behind the curtain. So it was positive she did this! She let us in on a secret that some bloggers want to hide from us.

I think this is overstating it a little. How do you go from Yglesias/CAP to "many bloggers"? The vast majority of bloggers aren't employed by large think tanks like CAP or Hoover, from which Democratic and Republican administrations draw personnel. Short of being a campaign blogger like, oh, Michael Goldfarb, there's no clearer organizational bias than that.

This incident, as Atrios put it, calls into question which revenue models allow for editorial independence. But for the vast majority of independently-run blogs (like this one), it's more a validation than anything else.

madawaskan said...

And-that chimp-what's is nuts-Kos moaning about this is really rich..

They have all kinds of "editorial" squirmishes over there.

Yglesias if he left the The Atlantic thinking blogging would amount to anything...

If it's going to get read these days-on the Left-it's been very "organized" for awhile...

To be Independent, and on your own probably mens your not going to get read much.

madawaskan said...

See shit-

Trooper's take-hell waaaay more interesting.

And-

rhhardin

Been meaning to tell you this for awhile now-

Don Imus is the Biggest Drama Queen on Earth.

Susan Lucci's got nothin' on him.

garage mahal said...

The perfect subject of any blog post would be where one hippie kicks another. Discuss!

Dr Dre's Underpants said...

Other than getting cheap links from his mama, I can't see where John Althouse Cohen has ever done anything of substance.

That’s some weak shit boy.

Beldar said...

This is all part of a tradition that goes back at least to the pissing matches between Lenin and Trotsky. But no one except those on the left is really interested in which among them is most holy.

MayBee said...

Doyle:How do you go from Yglesias/CAP to "many bloggers"? The vast majority of bloggers aren't employed by large think tanks like CAP or Hoover

How do you go from "many bloggers" to the "vast majority" of bloggers? The vast majority of bloggers have about 2 readers. The vast majority of bloggers probably make no money at all.

But many bloggers do have revenue, and it can be obvious (a publication or a campaign), or murky (a known think tank with undisclosed donors, like CAP), or opaque (like Kos).

So what kind of personal relationship does a reader have with a blogger at the different levels of transparency?

For anybody but the most independent blogger, the reader is Truman Burbank.

peter hoh said...

On a related note, the editor of the Atlantic wants you to know that We at The Atlantic do not take sides in the ongoing dispute between partisans of hummus and partisans of baba ghanoush.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Amy: that's not a logical answer to my question. I'm saying: where do you get the idea that it was legitimate for her to post on his blog?

Ann Althouse said...

"They have all kinds of "editorial" squirmishes over there."

And after the squirmishes, there's nothing but squism.

save_the_rustbelt said...

John Althouse:

Very clever - touche!

I have a resume Matt couldn't pick up with a fork lift, and do more in retirement than most young punks do full time. Touche!

LonewackoDotCom said...

I've probably spent a few hours total writing comments at MattY's various stops pointing out how he's wrong. There seems to be a part of his brain missing, in that he has never been able to actually present a valid argument but instead engages in various LogicalFallacies. When it comes to the many topics about which he has no clue, he simply pushes someone else's agenda without understanding it. And, he's also published lies and smears and never offered a correction. The reason I've left comments there is described here; it obviously hasn't worked yet.

While this issue is like a small personal battle among a small group that one is glad not to be a member of, the thing about this that's actually important is the involvement of the Center for American Progress. This is just the latest example of them not being able to think straight.

Bear in mind that CAP is a source of both ideas and people for the BHO administration. Note the warning I issued about their involvement on October 29 (see #14 and #16).

Note also that instead of focusing on CAP, Althouse focused on the inside baseball aspects.

David said...

This leaves me totally confused too.

Plus I never could pronounce "Yglegais."

David said...

Dre's Undies says:

"Other than getting cheap links from his mama, I can't see where John Althouse Cohen has ever done anything of substance."

Personal foul: 15 adjective penalty!

The next one should bring an ejection.

PatCA said...

It strikes me that activists of every stripe are a thin-skinned lot. They do well as aides, whispering in the ears of congressmen, and as consultants, framing logos and messages in smoke-free conference rooms. Politics? Debate? Too delicate.

dick said...

What bothers me in this whole megillah is that first Palmieri posts on the personal blog website of someone else mentioning her association with CAP as opposed to Think Progress. At this time we do not know whether she really has his permission.

Later Yglesias writes that his is an unedited website. The question becomes that if he does not edit but just posts willy-nilly on this website whatever anyone hands him then does he stand behind it at all. Doe she even stand behind what he posts of his own writing on this website. He notes at the top that he is associated with Think Progress but then in this particular entry there is a conflict there also.

Ends up that who knows what is the source of anything that is posted there and who bothers to check on the validity of what is posted there. What also do the associations that Yglesias has have to do with each other and with his blog. Is the blog really his or is it paid for by someone else in his name and he is responsible to that person. I think this really will end up costing Yglesias some credibility in the circles who do follow him. I know that even when I do not agree with him politically, which is most of the time, I used to think that what he wrote was worth reading and thinking about. Now, not so much.

Jason said...

Apparently, Palmieri is a contender for Asst. Secretary of Defense for Public Relations or communication or whatever the exact title is.

That's horrible.

Can you imagine what a hash this ham-handed, officious twit will make of policies governing military bloggers?

Jack Okie said...

As to who's blog it is: Who arranges the advertising and who gets the ad revenue - Matt, CAP, ???

BJM said...

Blogger Jason said...
Can you imagine what a hash this ham-handed, officious twit will make of policies governing military bloggers?


There are no "military bloggers", active duty bloggers posting to the public web were quashed by DOD some time ago a security risk. Even families of active duty and/or deployed military and civilian contractors have been restrained.

What we think of as Mil-bloggers are private blogs by non-active, retired military, support groups and friends. They do not fall under DOD/Pentagon jurisdiction.

However, like you, the very thought of this twit or one of her ilk working for the military gives me indigestion.

Jason said...

Hogwash.

I'm quite familiar with the regs on the matter. The link you posted quashes nothing, and there are even now a number of blogs from active duty military people.

You can't violate OPSEC, but that's nothing new, and identical procedures and restrictions apply to communications in any media.

Some commanders are more open to it than others. But no, military bloggers have been in no way "quashed."

See here, for the Army's clarification on the rules:

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/05/armys_blog_rebu.html