November 24, 2005

"The M&Ms float crashed. Oh the humanity! As God is my witness, I thought M&Ms could fly."

That's the reaction in the Pajamas Media live blogging when a Thanksgiving Parade balloon crashes and falls, along with a streetlight into a crowd. Here's an MSM report of the incident, quoting a spectator saying "It happened so fast. I said, 'Oh, my God!' It dropped like a rock." Also: "A 26-year-old woman and 11-year-old girl were apparently hurt by the debris."

Do our intrepid bloggers right themselves? Scroll at the first link to see how they carry on joking about the accident:
"Are we liveblogging someone's death? Because I didn't sign on to do parade snuff."

"Ed, you're thinking of skittles. Skittles have superpowers that M&M's do not. It's a generational thing."

I was at the parade in 1969, when Bullwinkle deflated all over a bystanders near the Ansonia Hotel, who moved inside en masse and started Plato's Retreat.
UPDATE: I've closed the comments on this post, based on my new, more vigorous policy announced here. For readers who may not know, the many references to "Jeff" in these comments are to the commenter Protein Wisdom, who is Jeff Goldstein, one of the participants in the live-blogging criticized in this post.

Is Pajamas Media too much like MSM? Well, one way in which it's different, to be sure, is that when you do a blog post, say, criticizing Dan Rather, he doesn't come over and yell at you in the comments! I think it's damned strange that you have what is supposed to be a business, with $3.5 million in financing, where the insiders behave like this. All I did was quote four things that they said and write "Yikes," and Goldstein comes over and rants in my comments -- on Thanksgiving! -- until I'm finally driven to close them down and announce a new comments policy to protect my space from being deluged by ugliness. He's also writing on his own blog, denouncing me as "absolutely despicable." For saying "Yikes" at those jokes made when a large object falls on a crowd? A little thin-skinned, Jeff?

And what about this character, another PJM insider? He writes about my post, saying I'd "lost my mind" and titling the post "Ann Althouse's Integrity"? All for a little old "Yikes"! Oh, I see, he was over here commenting and I deleted his comment. Yeah, because it was too abusive. Now, on his own blog, he's calling me "a liar ... spreading malicious untruths." Where's the lie? He thinks it's a lie to have written about the accident in this post when I wasn't watching the parade on television!

Let the historians of blogging judge who's lost their mind. I'd like to know which insiders are embarrassed to be yoked to folks who are harassing me this way just for criticizing them a little. How bizarrely unprofessional! And, worse, how hostile to the spirit of blogging, which they so desperately want and need to recover!

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:
I think the 2 posts you describe in the update make it clear that these are not just people who are criticizing your blog because they happen not to like the things you say; it's a smear campaign (which means you're certainly entitled to delete ALL of their comments). A normal person would never say that you were lying in your post about the parade. So many of the recent criticisms of you from people who defend Pajamas Media are essentially saying: "You're criticizing them too much." (Weird attitude for bloggers to have!)


YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Dan at Riehl World View notes that Pajamas could have foreseen that the wind that day would pose problems for the balloons and could have mobilized to provide the citizen journalism they've been talking about:
With just a very little bit of research into what turned out to be an important subtext of this particular parade, PJM might have been in a position to put something rather substantive out within minutes of the accident, offering readers something they likely wouldn't have gotten from the MSM on line for an hour.

News is rarely, if ever that which is expected - it's the unexpected which makes headlines. If we as bloggers want to move into an increasingly significant role as reporters, we're going to have to learn to be better prepared in certain cases.
That's a very sharp and constructive criticism. What does Dan get for it? Jeff Goldstein shows up in the comments and goes after him until Dan actually rewrites his post to "correct the emphasis."

MORE: Baldilocks doesn't understand why I wrote in the comments here that Jeff Goldstein acted as though been given "the assignment to be my personal Baldilocks." I explain over in her comments section.

AND: Was lighting into me for this post behavior befitting the insiders to a major business undertaking? Of course not. What would a media organization that was actually ready for prime time have done? They should have added a note at the end of their live-blogging that said something like:
Live-blogging is part of the great fun of blogging, but it poses risks too. Our live-bloggers didn't see much of the mishap with the balloon as they were watching the televised parade, and unfortunately, their comments carried on in the joking spirit of the live-blog. Afterwards, they saw the news reports, and their hearts went out to the young woman and the girl who got hurt. Looking back, some of those jokes seem pretty insensitive. But we took the risk of live-blogging, and we're going to keep taking risks in the grand tradition of blogging. We knew we'd step on some toes along the way, but we never meant to be mean to the nice people who go to parades.

Then Althouse would have amended her post and said Nice save by Pajamas!

Instead, I've got to say not ready for prime time.

ALSO: I'm going to allow new comments, but I will monitor actively. I will delete posts with hatred, abuse, shouting, personal attacks, repetition, and perseverating demands for apologies and retractions. You can debate and disagree, but you must try to engage with some of the issues on a rational, intelligent level, in the tradition of Althouse blog comments. If you're not familiar with my place, read some of the comments in other posts and get a feeling for the kind of community you are entering. The regulars who hang out here have created an environment that's different from a lot of places where you may be used to commenting. I will not allow you to spoil it for us.


Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

Jeff called you boring over on that PJM live blog page of the parade, which is kinda funny, given that they managed to make a fairly festive event sound rather deadly dull.

Were they serious? Was I missing something? And, can one live-blog through the television? Like if you are live blogging an event, can you view it through television and comment, or are you actually supposed to be there? Cause if I am not there, aren't I really live-blogging me watching the telly?

Anonymous said...

Is it a Blog 2.0, without an RSS feed?

Is it a Blog 2.0, if you cannot comment about it?

How does PJM hope to become a viral success without RSS feeds or comments?

What is the difference between PJM and Command-Post apart from two years, comments, rss feeds, genuinely interesting content, and $3.5M? (they both have 24x7 around the world editing, and a conservative slant)

This is torturous to watch. I'd never last two seconds in gitmo, abu ghraib, or our new Gulag 2.0.

Ann Althouse said...

Finn: I don't think he called me boring. I think he invoked my name after Madeleine Simon said the blogging was boring. He then said: "Boring? Who invited Althouse to this thing?" That is, my calling them boring has left a mark. I take it as a compliment.

Bloggers say "live-blogging" to mean watching something on TV all the time. I've tried to popularize "simulblogging," but it hasn't caught on. I've been linked by Glenn Reynolds for "live-blogging" something like the Republican Convention, when I was just watching TV.

Quxxo: Command Post was better. Memeorandum and Punditdrome are also better. Much better!

Icepick said...

Quxxo, great comment!

Andrew Shimmin said...

You're a better person than I am if you don't think each of those comments are funny. But I guess that's the whole point. . .

protein wisdom said...

Ann is right: I didn't call her boring. I was riffing off of Madeleine.

But Ann is also being dishonest in this post.

If you scroll through the entire parade thread, you'll see that I alerted the other posters to the fact that somebody might have gotten hurt:

"Are we liveblogging someone's death? Because I didn't sign on to do parade snuff."

Then, when Ed realized it, he wrote:

"Was somebody injured? Oy. I thought the only casualties were a lampost and a polypropelene float."

Because we had to refresh to see each other's comments, there was sometimes a delay in response.

Finally, nearer the end of the thread, Ed wrote:

"Don't worry, Madeleine, we're just making this all up. Any similarity between our comments and the parade is purely--entirely--coincidental. Well, except for the comments about Ron Popiel."

To which I replied, ironically:

"...And the death of a bystander who was crushed by the enormous steel casing to a giant lightbulb.

Happy Thanksgiving!"

To suggest, as you've done in this post, that we were callous, is rather despicable. CBS, the channel on which we were watching the thing, didn't really stop covering the parade after the lampost fell. So we reacted to what was happening in the coverage.

We didn't know who was hurt, or how badly.

I have no idea how much further into the gutter you want to take all this, Ann. But don't let your amen chorus fool you -- you are really doing yourself dishonor with misleading and moronic posts like this.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry, Jeff. A lamppost hit a young woman in the head and you guys went on with a series of jokes, including the "snuff" one (which I quoted in my post), and a creepy homophobic-sounding one. You needed to be funny, and seeing something dangerous happen to a crowd that included kids didn't stop you. Quit trying to intimidate me out of criticizing you guys. You know how I feel about bullies. It emboldens me! You're putting up material to be read and blogged. You want to be immune from getting blogged? Try putting good material up if you don't want to hear criticism. Do you seriously think the live-blogging of the parade was top-notch work? Give me a break.

protein wisdom said...

That is patently false, Ann. Were you watching the parade coverage on CBS?

You're bringing in reportage from after the fact -- details we didn't have while we were blogging the event.

And who's trying to bully you? I'm simply correcting the record because, well, I WAS THERE.

I don't much care if you like the liveblogging or not. That's a matter of taste. But you are suggesting here that we were callous or unconcerned -- when the fact of the matter is, it wasn't even clear to us what had happened.

In fact, I left that comment about the parade snuff after CBS cut to a shot of the casing from the lampost bulb on the ground. They hadn't yet even MENTIONED that anyone might be injured. I just looked at the size of that thing and was a bit alarmed.

That I'm even having to defend a bunch of us from the suggestion that we don't care about people getting injured is a testament to the kinds of base motives you seem to want to assign to a disparate set of people whose only real common bond is that they signed up for Pajamas media.


It's mind boggling.

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

Jeff & Ann, sorry for the misread-I'm such a dodi this morning.

And thanks for the clarification on live-blogging. (If you are actually there and blogging, is that live-live blogging?)

Andrew Shimmin said...

You're only making it worse for yourself, Jeff. Stop bullying her by denying that you love watching people get hurt by giant balloons. Snuf film: isn't that, like, a sex thing? Does watching a little girl get hurt on Thanksgiving turn you on? Sick bastard.

Laurence said...

Congratulations, guys.

That's why networks use 7-second delays and Jon Stewart mocks the news from the comfort of an editing booth, tape feeds with a bit of moss on the content, and a few hours delay between taping and air time to yank a show that's gone too far.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeff: "Were you watching the parade coverage on CBS?" Why on earth would I do that? I'm not 7.

Anyway, I guess I hit a nerve, Jeff. Take it easy. Relax. Enjoy Thursday.

Asher Abrams said...

You guys were missing all the fun.


reader_iam said...


Les Nesman (sp?), right?

That has to have been one of the very funniest episodes of WKRP. I nearly spit my mouthful of coffee on to the keyboard of my brand-new laptop when I saw the headline to your post!

Gosh, I wish they'd put that series on DVD (or maybe they have--have't checked).

katiebakes said...

Hmm ... I think I give the benefit of the doubt to Jeff here. I didn't watch the coverage either, but if they were simul-blogging it then they would be slaves to whatever the network television chose to show. It seems as though TV did not immediately cover the injuries, and they only came to light later on in the day.

RTO Trainer said...

Jeff: Being there doesn't count. As a previously deployed Soldier I can attest to that. Anythign that you might have to say that contradicts the "convnetional wisdom" will be written of *because* you were there and thus, "too close to the situation" or somesuch other nonsense.

Daryl Herbert said...

Is the allegedly homophobic comment the one about Plato's Retreat? According to this source (I'm not old enough to get the joke; I had to look it up) it was a heterosexual swingers club.

Apparently it replaced the Continental Baths, a gay club in the same location, because too many straight people went there... could the joke be that straight people ran from the Bullwinkle float into the hotel, including the gay club, causing it to become the straight Plato's Retreat? It's a pretty complicated joke for anyone who isn't familiar with famous swingers clubs, but I don't see how it could be homophobic...

Andrew Shimmin said...

Daryl Herbert: Bully.

Things that, had a man said them to Ann Althouse, would have proved him a sexist: "Take it easy. Relax."

This speaking truth to power business sure is tricky.

AnechoicRoom said...

Holding up the Pajamas Media banner and charging into battle, is now Jiff Gee's job 24/7. Give yourself a medal for even visiting the Pajamas Media site Ann (really).

I've been witness to some pretty despicable behavior by ________ [fill in blank with (use your imagination)].

And frankly, I don't know why I'm even bringing it up (I can hear the whining before it even starts). But yikes, some of these folks need some time away from the console. Some decaf? Or perhaps a frosty beverage containing a very generous pour of spirits? Something ..... anything.

John said...
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jakemanjack said...
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protein wisdom said...

"Anyway, I guess I hit a nerve, Jeff. Take it easy. Relax. Enjoy Thursday."

Funny how accusing somebody of making light of the suffering of others will do that.

So to recap: you admit that you didn't watch the coverage, so you have no idea what we were seeing and hearing.

I've explained to you what we ACTUALLY saw and heard, and how that differed from what you later learned from Breitbart (and that I learned, ironically, from you).

But instead of admitting you jumped to a conclusion and apologizing for thinking so ill of six people you don't know, you have decided to prove that we all blithely ignored the seriousness of an incident that resulted in severe injuries by pointing out that -- wait for it -- I'm not happy that you've accused us of blithely ignoring the seriousness of an incident that resulted in severe injuries.

That about sum it up?

John said...
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wildaboutharrie said...
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Ann Althouse said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Jeff: I've been trying to avoid talking about Pajamas, believe it or not, but when I read the news report on Breitbart, I decided to go over and see how you folks treated the incident on your live-blogging effort, which I knew you were doing, but didn't mean to talk about. Really, nothing interests me less than the Thanksgiving parade, and I thought it was surpassingly lame that you were live-blogging it, but I had meant to ignore it. But when I saw there was an accident, I wondered how you treated it. So I looked to see what you had, and frankly I could not believe you'd handled it so abysmally. Snuff films? This is the most evil pornography! Plato's Retreat? Another sexual reference, though the joke is incomprehensible. And now you're mad at me for calling attention to it? You come over to my blog and rant as if you've been given the assignment to be my personal Baldilocks? Really, you need to back off now. I won't allow my comments section, known as a place of civil discourse, to be run into the ground.

Bane said...

Hey, at least one of the victims was thoughtful enough to bring her own wheelchair.