Fan mail from some flounder

In response to the post below:

I disagree. You’re on the wrong side of history, and you can starve in a gutter alongside Walter Isaacson.

There is little to no -news- on the news, a point your latest comic completely fails to address.

If I want the truth about Iraq, I read Glenn Greenwald.

Henceforth, you won’t be allowed to sell my eyeballs to Salon or anyone else. For what little it is worth, I won’t link, I won’t mention you to friends, and I certainly won’t read your posts or comics.

After deliberately misinforming the American public about Iraq, the MSM deserves a fiery death.

Hell, we’d be better off with Pradva. At least they had the excuse of someone holding a gun to their collective heads.


Brian D———, ex-reader.


(Leaving aside the fact that you certainly won’t see this post, since I’m now dead to you … )

It sounds like you might have a blog. Glenn Greenwald has a blog. I have a blog. We have blogs!

This is a fine thing. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

But while there’s plenty to be learned from Glenn Greenwald’s always-insightful analysis (and perhaps somewhat less so from my various ramblings), can readers turn to any of our blogs this morning and learn about Obama’s secret letter to Russia, the future regulation of Fannie and Freddie, the attack on a Sri Lankan cricket team by gunmen in Pakistan, the memos detailing the power the Bush administration sought, the grassroots uprising against a dam in Japan, the release of a human rights activist in Zimbabwe, the news that Fidel Castro has been spotted taking early morning strolls in Havana, the fact that one in every 31 adults in this country is entangled in the prison system in some way, the specifics of the California joblessness rate, or the impediments facing women in Afghanistan — to name just a few of the stories in today’s New York Times? (And that’s before we even get into weather, sports, the business pages and the arts section.)

No they cannot. At least, not until we start writing about these things because we have read about them in the New York Times, or seen them on CNN, or heard them on NPR or the local AM drive time affiliate, or wherever it is we get the news that we do not go out into the world and gather ourselves.

Please don’t misunderstand. I have been critiquing the mainstream media for a very long time. The epic failure of what passed for “journalism” during the runup to war in 2002 and 2003 was a frequent topic of my cartoon and on this blog. If my latest cartoon fails to drive this point home to your satisfaction, it’s only because I’ve made the point so many times, I assume it’s a given. The entirety of my belief system cannot be restated in every cartoon, at least not until the three-dimensional fully networked hotlinkable meta cartoons of the future become commonplace.

But this is the point, and I am entirely certain Glenn Greenwald would agree: criticizing someone for doing an important job badly does not mean you wish that no one was doing the job at all.

We criticize journalists because we want them to do a better job, not because we want to see their profession eliminated entirely.

That’s what right-wingers want. That’s how right-wingers want to live, in an information-free zone in which facts are supplanted entirely by opinion, in which there’s no need to hear from a reporter on the ground in Fallujah as long as Rush Limbaugh has an opinion on the topic. But it’s not how I want to live.

Update: Glenn Greenwald adds via email:

I agree with you entirely, as you predicted: the problem with the establishment media isn’t that they’re trying to perform a function that shouldn’t be performed (that’s the Right’s critique of the press, actually). The problem is that they perform that function so ineptly and corruptly — or often not at all — and thus it goes unfulfilled.

The point of media criticisms is not to kill off the media, but to make them better.