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View Diary: Comprehensive response to WaMo piece (83 comments)

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  •  sorry, kos, it is a hit piece (4.00)
    I've worked for some politically connected public figures and seen a fair number of hit pieces in my time, and I would characterize this as a hit piece.

    The definition of a hit piece is about tone rather than facts.  There is a way to get many facts wrong and still have appropriate and generally positive tone.  There is a way to get all the facts scrupulously right and still have a tone that is inappropriate and generally negative.   It's not as nasty as it could have been, true.  But openly hostile profiles are too easily dismissed; the most effective hit pieces always appear to be even handed while quietly slipping in the knife in as many places as possible.  

    You are personally described with a whole host of snarky adjectives:  irascible, touchy, shrill (twice), idiosyncratic, withering, high-strung, petty, self-assured, flailing, difficult, etc.  Even if some of these things are true, and you voluntarily describe yourself as an asshole, and you personally think it is an asset for a political tactician to be an asshole, these are not the words journalists usually use to describe people whose power they respect, at least not without qualifiers.  Difficult, but effective, for example.  "no literary pretensions"?   Please--you're a better writer than this guy.  Withering?  Only if you can't keep up, pal. "Too" self-assured?  It ain't bragging when you can back it up.

    "Competitiveness founded not on ... political principles"; "not always possible to discern a clear principle", dogmatic, no "fundamental paradigm" (whatever that means), [no] consistent or organized manner--this really irritated me.  I know you say you are not an ideologue, but there is a huge difference b/w principle and ideology, and the repetition of these comments makes you seem, well, unprincipled, which is a harsh thing to say about any public figure attempting to influence political decisions that affect millions of people's lives.

    Another expression repeated twice is "on the fly."  On the fly could have been used in the positive "seat of the pants" sense that makes you out to be a natural talent, but both uses here imply that you are an amateur who is out of his depth.  "No real political experience."  This is based on a pretty narrow definition of what constitutes politics.  Not being elected to office and not being a paid campaign staffer is not the same thing as having no political experience.  "their political consciousness begins with maybe the impeachment" "hasn't been reading TNR and the WaMo forever"  The clear implication is that you and younger dKos regulars are unaware of the history of political strategy in the Democratic Party because you did not live it.  Even if that were partly true, isn't the whole point that the progressive blogosphere is a new thing?  New tactics for new times?  If insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, isn't it an advantage to be unencumbered by direct personal experience of the losing history?

    You knew the Red Sox analogy was coming.  For decades baseball insiders would say that the team with the most ex-Red Sox (or ex-Cubs) could never win the World Series because the memory of repeated losing gets in the system and affects a player from deep within.  2004 took that argument off the table, at least with respect to the Sox (sorry Cubbies), and dKos could very well help take that argument off the table with respect to Democratic political strategy.

    The site itself is called harsh, impassioned, raw, humorless, infantile, and absurd.  I don't pick up a single positive descriptor of the site and the function it performs.   Humorless?  What blog have they been reading?  And what's with creating some false dichotomy between true believers and "aesthetes"?

    "shilling for Sheehan" really jumped out at me because she is a parallel figure of fear to certain establishment people--the idea that one individual with nothing more than passion as a guide could start something this big and garner this much attention and get this many people involved without the help of professionals with political experience who have been reading TNR forever might mean that the old-line experts are losing their grip on power.  isn't that the real motivator behind all their overt and covert attacks on you personally and on us in the dKos community?

    I won't even get started on the Dean thing, since you know I love me some Ho Ho, and the bad blood between DC insiders and Deaniacs really needs to be set aside to help him be the most effective DNC Chair possible.  "Deanism" could mean anything.  "Winnerism" seems like a word more accurately thrown at the Republicans.  But with respect to the polls and the election predictions, I'm obviously one of the people who believes you'll eventually be vindicated about this too, when the truth about Diebold and other forms of manipulation are ultimately revealed.

    Now granted I only skimmed this article because we all have better things to do on the day before Xmas Eve.  But a skim is actually the best way to pick up the general tone of a piece, to see what pops out and what is emphasized.  I know you don't want to blast these guys, kos, and generally I do think the WaMo is on the Blue Team.  But the WaMo is after all an insider magazine with a vested interest in massaging their readers and making you look like less of a threat.

    In general I like the way you are handling your personal publicity.  You've been very god at picking your spots.  I'm sure you know this, but I just want to reemphasize how important it is that you pick your next interview "yes" very very very carefully.  This piece, by mischaracterizing you and the site to a Washington insider community that already has misgivings about you and us, hurts rather than helps, IMO.  We don't need any more interviews of this tone, even in a side-burner mag like the WaMo.

    I hope your next major interview piece appears in a wider-circulation magazine outside the strictly political world.  The movement could really benefit next summer from a serious and even-handed piece that accurately describes you (with all your humanity and flaws) and dKos (with all its humanity and flaws) without this level of backhanded slaps and snark.  Has Vanity Fair been calling?  The New Yorker?  Rolling Stone?

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH

    by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Dec 23, 2005 at 06:52:16 AM PST

    •  physical description (4.00)
      I didn't even go into the emasculating physical description:  high-pitched voice (read: feminine), rounded face (read: feminine), and 5'6" (you get the idea).

      But I thought the line about the animated frog was actually endearing.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH

      by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Dec 23, 2005 at 07:01:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "shilling for Sheehan" (none)
      I didn't read the original article either, but this one clinches it.

      This writer has an agenda, and it ain't a good one.

    •  Hmmm (none)
      Good points. Perhaps I'm giving them too much benefit of the doubt.

      And yeah, I'm going to be getting a lot pickier with my interviews. I do so few already, which is one of the few areas where the piece got me right (I hate publicity, in part because of bullshit like this).

    •  a 2002 example of Benjamin Wallace-Wells in action (none)
      the most effective hit pieces always appear to be even handed while quietly slipping in the knife in as many places as possible...old-line experts are losing their grip on power...TrueBlueMajority 7:52:16

      I think I found a 2002 example of Benjamin Wallace-Wells in action.
      Complete with a comprehensive response from a victim who like kos hesitates to question the intentions of Wells.  

      Seems Wallace-Wells gets key facts wrong from the outset and then spends then rest of the article trashing decisions of one Denny Bolton a Pennsylvania school district business manager with scary quotes from other school business managers who "don't see the benefits" in the "backward--and damaging" "monopoly contract".

      Looks like Denny Bolton saved the teachers money by cutting out investment fees when contracting with a provider exclusively for a newly available 457 plan.  By falsely stating in the first sentence that the contract involved all "employee retirement plans" Wallace-Wells includes another plan, the teachers main 403 plan.

      More of Wells rattling of cages?  Perhaps protecting the fees of those "old-line experts losing their grip on power" mentioned by TrueBlue?

      The school business manager writes a letter to the editor saying he was "honored to have been interviewed" but needed to "clarify some inacuracies" in the Wallace-Wells article specifically that the new agreement involved "ONE, not the exclusive, provider to our 403(b) plan."

      Seems to me Wells should have got that right.

      Financial Firm Gets Exclusive Deal, Wallace-Wells
      Letter to the Editor, Denny Bolton

      Also, it seems to me, in the piece on kos, that
      "Silicon Valley-derived sense of power that holds that only the people who know how to program code can ever really run things"
      translates to: "liberal elite"

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