As Patterico celebrates his tenth blogging anniversary, and Scott Greenfield celebrates his sixth, I am moved to think again about how bloggers are regarded by what is called the "mainstream media."
Despite how mainstream bloggers have become, and despite the fact that almost all "mainstream media" outlets have their own bloggers, the prevailing attitude seems unchanged in more than a decade: bloggers, we're told, are unreliable, biased, wild-eyed pajama-clad basement-dwellers.
Apart from the pajamas and basement part, I think this is irrefutably true. Bloggers are biased and unreliable.
Here's the key question: compared to what?
We've been told to think that people who went to journalism school, who write or talk for established media outlets, who are clad in the garb of media-officialdom, represent some sort of neutral-and-reliable baseline, and that bloggers are somewhere below that. But it's fallible humans all the way down, my friends. The notion that someone is trustworthy or honest because they landed a job with an old-school media outlet is, to be blunt, laughable.
Are bloggers wild-eyed? Sure. Some of us are nuts. But check out the sort of people that "mainstream media" hires. This week's example — local news writer Kathleen O'Brein Wilhelm, who as far as I can tell thinks deer can't read because Obama kills babies, and offers deathless lines like this: "Words are fun and worth clearly stating, in English if in America, and with an opinion that is yours because it’s good to have an opinion." Too obscure a media outlet, an exception that proves the rule? Well, you could go with the crazy Suzi Parker of the Washington Post, whose crazitude led her breathlessly to report satire about Sarah Palin as fact.
Are bloggers biased, uninterested in facts that don't support their biases, eager to push stories that promote their narratives, throwing out red meat like chum to sharts? Of course. But again, compared to what? Consider this Platonic ideal of mastubatory senile-dementia-agitating drivel from Fox News pearl-clutching about a university recognizing pagan and Wiccan holidays. Quoth Tucker Carlson on a Fox program "Every Wiccan I've known is either a compulsive Dungeons & Dragons player or is a middle-aged twice divorced older woman living in a rural area who works as a midwife." Gosh, Tucker. That's pretty strong language from someone who puts on a bow tie to seem tougher.
This is not to say you should trust bloggers. You should exercise skepticism about what you read on blogs. You should use your independent judgment about their work product.
But why, exactly, shouldn't we do the same with "mainstream" journalism outlets? By what stretch of the imagination are they reliable just because they have the big name?