December 27, 2006

"Joe, you're 23.... Can you be expert in anything?"

Hugh Hewitt grills Joseph Rago, that (surprisingly young) guy who put down bloggers in the Wall Street Journal the other day. Hugh rakes him over the coals with practiced skill, and little Joe survives the ordeal better than you might think he could.


AJ Lynch said...

I heard just that part of the interview and was shocked when Rago said he was not old enough to vote in 2000! The kid must be really smart to be working there at his age.

I like Hewitt's interview style- he is like a tough, no nonsense prosecutor and I have heard enough to say he treats most guests the same though there are few he fawns over.

Good night Ann - really like your blog and the commenters - should send a donation your way every so often. It is truly good smart entertainment! Thanks!

michilines said...

aj, if others would actually remember your last words -- wrt this blog an Hugh's, among others -- it is simply entertainment -- not meant for basing political views upon. Like Limbaugh and Hannity, the web has developed those who want to dominate. Funny thing is, they get it very wrong, very often.

Palladian said...

it is simply entertainment -- not meant for basing political views upon.

So, michilines, what do we base political views upon if the "blogs" are simply "entertainment"? The opinions of that notoriously reliable group of elevated beings, the august members of the established media? Or the neutral, rational facts presented by 527 groups like MoveOn? Perhaps we are to collect the crystals of wisdom that drop from the politician's very mouths?

It sounds like you're calling opinions you don't agree with "entertainment". The notion that a medium is to be disregarded because you don't like what some people use it to say is an untenable and ridiculous position; I doubt that you actually believe it.

Like Limbaugh and Hannity, the web has developed those who want to dominate.

Did you write your post in a different language and then use an online translator to render it into English? What the hell does this sentence even mean? Are Limbaugh and Hannity even major forces on the web?

I like to think of the "web" as a place removed from the physical world, without political boundaries. A place where we, like haughty, imperfect gods on Mount Olympus, can sit and watch and laugh at the folly of the politicians and mortals below, in the world but not of it. And being gods, we can occasionally rain thunderbolts down on the heads of those that anger us, or turn them into flowers for staring at themselves in ponds, or watch, bemused, as they try to fly too high and set their wings alight.

Palladian said...

And speaking of Icarus, how many of the writers of these homogenous "Consarnit, those damned-able blogs!" articles are going to have to crash-land into the Icarian Sea before they finally hang up their ill-crafted wings?

This kid went to the right schools and played the right games and scored his plum job while the ink on his diploma was still wet. The system that supports him is threatened by independent writers, like the webloggers he vaguely dismisses. Bloggers have nothing to fear from Clearasil-coated spitballs. But 98 pound opinion writers, even when they're armed with Wall Street Journal-issued keyboards, have everything to fear from independent writers on the web. It's a scary world out there, kiddo. Maybe you should check it out a little before you start taking swings at what you don't understand.

michilines said...

Palladian, you use so many words, Althouse is probably not oing to understand. Althouse likes it short and to the point . . . like Instapundit.

Not all blogs are for entertainment -- just some -- this one among them. I f you take this woman seriously, that is your fault. She simply wants to make a name for herself in this medium.

You decide if it is quality analysis or entertainment.

Kirk Parker said...


Just for fun, contrast Rago with one of the self-supported embedded milbloggers, or someone like Michael Totten. No comparison!

Goesh said...

Yeah right - wouldn't the WSJ love to have subscription fees from everyone who visits this blog, the current tally being 7,160,468. Someone kick some more sand in the punk's face.

David said...

It is telling when Joe finds safety and solace in "semantics" when explaining the difference between MSM reportage and the blogosphere penchant for peeling the onion for the rest of the story.

His youth and inexperience are readily apparent when he, as a representative of the MSM, defends the status quo that encouraged the development of blogs. The blogs filled the vacuum created by opinion journalism that has made a business plan out of news as entertainment with an agenda of "question authority!"

Except the authority of the MSM! Joe's tender age is a bald-faced attempt to appeal to a younger demographic in an age of declining revenues for the WSJ and other icons of the dethroned MSM.

Pogo said...

Hewitt can realy tear apart poor arguments, but isn't mean-spirited in it, or angry, just methodical and relentless. He's an excellent example why the MSM should indeed fear blogs.

michilines, in contrast, is an example of what Rago was bitching about.

Jim H said...

little Joe survives the ordeal better than you might think he could.

If by survive you mean he was still breathing at the end of the interview and he didn't cry, then yes, he survived. But even when asked open-ended questions he was mostly incoherent.

Too Many Jims said...

I think the kid came out o.k. Having only read transcripts from this interview and the HH interview with Andrew Sullivan, interviewees should really prepare better for their time on his show. I wonder how HH would fare on a "nuetral field".

From reading the WJS Opinion piece I was struck that for being 23, the kid is really conservative. It wasn't the politics that shocked me it was the longing for better writing and less informality. It could have een ghost written by William F. Buckley, Jr.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

The better question might be: how would he fare in Althouse's class?

I think Hugh gave him a lot of wiggle room because he recognizes that this guy is a possible convert. Why "Paper Chase" him when you might just get him thinking a little more deeply about his opinion?

Kurt said...

Actually, a lot of Joe's responses to Hugh's questions remind me a lot of some of the people I knew as an undergraduate: "It's just an argument about semantics," he protests, as they would. That's the classic weasel line, the way to get out of having to commit yourself to anything.

verification word: mifzf--the way a lot of people felt after reading Joe's article.

Henry said...

I think the corner into which Hewitt pushes Rago is summed up here:

Rago: The point is that the entire [blogosphere] as a whole doesn’t work well... On the whole, I think that you’ll find much better analysis and commentary in a print publication versus one that you find entirely on the internet.

So Rago is reduced to arguing that the average print publication does a better job than the average blog.

But who wants to read average?

The problem is that the output of the news media (with some notable exceptions) is average almost by definition. Journalism-school conformity, column-inch and screen-time limitations, constant recourse to the same sources and talking heads, and the herd instinct all make for a mediocre product. At 23, Rago could be missing this point because he happens to work for one of the exceptions.

Hewitt makes a good point in that sound analysis is itself a useful news product. However, Hewitt doesn't make any case that opinion blogs like Powerline or The Corner are really producing any news. Rago is in fact correct that Hewitt is very sloppy in his semantics.

A Menken Moment said...

What impressed me listening to the interview between Hewitt and Rago was that Hewitt emphasized specifics and that Rago continued reasserting his claim that on the average MSM reporting was better. I am not sure how carefully he distinguished between the news-gathering resources of MSM (vs Blogosphere) and the commentarial aspect. What Rago did not address--nor did Hewitt press him on it--was the sloppiness and/or sophistry with which MSM journalists and/or editors kneed commentary into an article that purports to be plain fact-reporting. For example: all those subordinate clauses such as, "in defiance to those critics who have said that the war has become too expensive, that too many American lives have been lost, and that we are creating more enemies than we are eliminating," (an opinion and/or observation not directly germane to the facts being presently transmitted nor supported with specifics), "Pres. Bush today said that the U.S. will not abandon the Iraqis." (direct news-gathering).

My own observation is that the blogs Hewitt referenced, particularly Yon's and Totten's, are clearer in this regard, and, to that extent, their reporting is superior to that of the legacy print media.

hdhouse said...

Palladian said...

This kid went to the right schools and played the right games and scored his plum job while the ink on his diploma was still wet. The system that supports him is threatened by independent writers, like the webloggers he vaguely dismisses..."

Palladin makes true the adage that even a blind pig finds an acorn for he writes "the system that supports him is threatened by independent writers.." Yes it is.

The system, however, as Rush puts it "drive by media" is far from threatened by the Hewitts of the world. If you read the entire interview the "kid" comes off pretty well if not tit for tat. Moreover the point JR makes is that blogs are confused with truth and/or news. ... and news outlets, the drive by media for instance, actually do a very good job of getting it right. the Hewitts of the world glom onto abberitions in journalistic ethics and generalize them to death (kid writes fake story for the NYT on a minor subject. ergo NYT is all fake).

The amout of disinformation found on Professor Althouse's blog would choke a horse. The obvious bias shown by Professor Althouse would choke 2 horses. I fail to see what justification for inaccuracy is put forth in any of Hewitt's points
and that is the rub.

When blogs start getting it right to a far more consistent degree than "occasionally" they are "entertainment" much as tabloid TV.

News? nahhh. The "kids" point is well taken and well supported. Remember, there are 40 million plus blogs out there and the vast majority of them have a readership of 1.