Jonathan Chait engages in original intellectual inquiry

You’ve probably seen the New Republic has published a long piece about blogtopia by Jonathan Chait, a senior editor there. It somehow manages to be intensely irritating while still vaguely laudatory about what the online world has accomplished. Here’s my favorite part:

[P]ropaganda should not be confused with intellectual inquiry. Propagandists do not follow their logic wherever it may lead them; they are not interested in originality…

At the narrow level, the netroots take part in a great deal of demagoguery, name-calling, and dishonesty. Seen through a wider lens, however, they bring into closer balance the ideological vectors of propaganda in our public life.

Take the case of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a slain soldier who camped out at Crawford, Texas, in August 2005, demanding to meet with President Bush. The press corps did not treat her as a serious story, and understandably so–there were many parents of fallen soldiers with strong views on Iraq, so why should hers hold such weight? But the netroots took hold of the Sheehan story, harping on it for days, and forced it onto the national agenda. This is the sort of thing conservatives have been doing for years. The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth deserved no special credibility, either, but, in 2004, the right-wing media apparatus elevated them onto the national stage. Was the veneration of Sheehan intellectually shabby? Without a doubt. Was it, considered as a whole, a bad thing? That is not so clear.

Yes, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Cindy Sheehan are exactly the same “sort of thing.” Just compare:

• Swift Boat Veterans for Truth garnered attention by falsely claiming Kerry was “lying about his record” in Vietnam

• Cindy Sheehan garnered attention by falsely claiming her son is dead

Thank you, Jonathan Chait, for following your logic wherever it led you. It’s this type of original intellectual inquiry that blogs—hampered as they are by their demagoguery and dishonesty—just can’t touch.