Thursday, July 20, 2006
Tom Tomorrow and Glenn Greenwald make a perfect tag team to attempt an assault on the Major Media's emerging gang narrative about the left blogosphere. You know, the one that says that all the lefty bloggers and their readers are insane, scatalogical fanatics who endanger National Security, the political process, and all that America holds dear by, umm, saying stuff.
Greenwald, of course, is the former high-priced corporate attorney turned constitutional litigator, turned best-selling author who posts his views at his blog, Unclaimed Territory. He is the very antithesis of The Right's stereotype of a left-leaning blogger. His writing is calm (I almost said dispassionate, but that's not correct), reasoned, and well supported with facts. He never uses curse words, and he never makes accusations he can't back up. He wields the rhetorical talents of a top-notch litigator in the service of ideals he truly believes in, and the results are devastating to the fairy tales that the apologists of the right (and their co-dependent enablers in the media) spin. Naturally, nobody but political junkies has ever heard of him.
"Tom Tomorrow", on the other hand, is a blogger who is mainly a cartoonist (click through an ad if you don't subscribe to Salon). As far as I know, he has never worked an honest day in his life. He cusses. I would not be at all surprised to find out that he has used marijuana. I don't know if he bathes, but he's certainly a smartass. Such a smartass, in fact, that he has made a whole career out of eviscerating the elephants in our collective living room with the swift, incisive scalpel of his cartoons. I tend to agree with his politics, so I find him a joy, but I imagine he has caused considerable discomfort to his targets over the years. Recently, American political discourse has devolved to such a state that his satire is increasingly indistinguishable from mere reportage, but that's a different post. Oh, and he does books, too.
TT has been a trenchant commentator for the left for quite a while now, but he hasn't been marked for destruction by the Public Information Machine yet, because he has cleverly disguised his broadsides as funny cartoons. He's intensely political, commercially significant, but apparently not a recognized threat to the club of power. As a result, he has "contacts" in the Major Media (perhaps he has hot-tubbed with underage girls, an absynthe hookah loaded with mescaline, and some New York Times reporters).
Today, he decided to trade on his "insider" status in the form of an open letter to David Carr of the New York Times.
This stroke really appeals to me.
Greenwald is impeccably qualified to make the liberal case for the issues he attends to, and he does so with smooth aplomb and strict attention to detail. As a result, he has become a target for the right-wing flying attack monkeys, and if a Greenwald "story" rises to the attention of the brahmins of the Media, it's likely to be about some absurd accusation lodged against him - NOT the substance of his writings. Tom Tomorrow has taken one of Greenwald's important current topics (media coverage of blogs), made a convincing case in his own right, highlighted Greenwald's work, exposed the "standard narrative" aspect of today's reporting (so called), and challenged a major figure at a major outlet by publicly personalizing the topic (which is something a devotee of the rules of evidence like Greenwald would avoid under scrutiny).
Tom Tomorrow is unapologetically iconoclastic in his post (he uses words like "bullshit" in there) and his style exemplifies the frankness and conversational informality that the critics distort into "hysteria" or whatever. He doesn't shrink from the right's characterizations of Lefty Bloggers; he almost revels in them, exposing their silliness in free style. He is direct about referring to Greenwald - that is, Greenwald's substance, not his pissing match with righty bloggers. He takes the argument directly to the seat of power (the New York Times), and respectfully asks for answers to reasonable questions, reasonably asked. Anybody can do that, but TT is exercising his connections in the service of Truth, and his ego isn't standing in the way of leveraging Greenwald's authority and talent. The Selbyish hat is drastically off to both of them.
This is just one example of the way internet communications are evolving, the growing sophistication of the players (on the left, I prefer), and the synergy that's emerging among those players, even when they have no obvious similarity apart from "lefty".
I like that stuff.