Saturday, November 23, 2013

Chicken-Feed. Or Poop. When it Comes to MDPolitics Watch, We Just Can't Tell (UPDATED)

I believe, fundamentally, in anonymous speech.  I have passionately pleaded this concept to skeptical liberal reporters, bent on exposing conservative donors and making them a target of harassment, and congressional staffers who want to chill the kinds of criticism their bosses (Democrat and Republican) were facing.  It is a concept enshrined in Supreme Court caselaw in NAACP v. Alabama, where the high court ruled that the NAACP could keep its donor list a secret, lest the state of Alabama (or its citizens) needlessly harass people for engaging in their constitutionally-protected rights.

From an operative standpoint, however, anonymous writing is a double-edged sword.  Choosing to post criticism anonymously can blunt the impact of that criticism, since the poster has no accountability.

But the focus remains on speech that is truly critical—and whose writing with an actual by-line can put the author into jeopardy (occupational, physical, or otherwise).  The whistle-blower, for instance, who has a real fear of job loss or physical harm—we have a fundamental necessity in protecting that speech and their courageous (albeit anonymous) actions.



And so it is with this blog, MDPoliticsWatch, a relative newcomer to the #WellRunState’s growing-legion of political writers.  It is an anonymous blog—and one might hope that were it engaging in this cherished form of speech, it would use that anonymity to some greater purpose.  After all, there are plenty of dangerous stories in Maryland politics within which anonymity would be well-served.  The state disability official, blowing the whistle on an unknownmulti-million dollar surplus of funds at her agency, would have benefitedconsiderably had the whistle been blown anonymously.

Instead she was unceremoniously fired for her efforts.

For anyone who has engaged in any sort of intelligence analysis—whether for the government or for political campaigns—you learn to spot the hallmarks of a rat.  Something that simply does not jibe.  In one of my favorite books, John LeCarre’s TinkerTailor Soldier Spy, spymaster George Smiley, in uncovering the mole in British Intelligence, comes to a realization that their amazing source (Merlin) isn’t so amazing after all.

Smiley realizes that the intel Merlin is providing the British is largely “chicken feed”—sprinkled with a bit of gold dust to make it a bit interesting.  Nothing that they couldn’t have uncovered elsewhere.

Which is essentially MD Politics Watch.  The blog largely repackages general political information that people can find elsewhere (kind of like an aggregator).  Some of it isn’t really politics, some of it doesn’t pertain to Maryland at all.

But when it does pertain to Maryland, and politics, it is generally focused on one thing:  Red Maryland.  And Red Maryland’s associated contributors.  And not with anything particularly important or hard-hitting or information that would put the authors of these pieces (who eventually started ascribing pseudonyms to their posts) into anything approaching occupational or physical harm.

No—the reason why these “authors” choose to make their anti-Red Maryland posts anonymous is simple: they are the worst kind of childish cowards.

Say what you will about RedMaryland (because, Lord knows, someone else has probably said it already), but we, at least, append our names to our posts.  You can talk all you want about the relative merits of casting a clear eye at all manner of elected official, but at the end of the day, our authors are willing to be held accountable for what they write.

See, it takes no skill to take a picture of a woman who knows she is overweight (or a couple of guys who know they are overweight), and to make fat jokes online.  None whatsoever.  It takes even less skill to do it anonymously.

What it shows is that, not only does your blog have no merit (since you don’t write anything serious or hard-hitting about Maryland politics), but that you’re too much of a (that p-word that is the nickname for a cat) to actually append your name even to that.

The funny thing is, my friend, Jackie Wellfonder, is too strong to let this bother her.  She takes her cues from the book of Nehemiah and keeps her eyes focused on doing the Lord’s work.

But as her brother in activism, it falls to me to step in and say something.  To make it clear that there is fundamentally something different between your “writing” (or amateur picture taking) and those who do the dangerous work of anonymously protecting the Republic.  To call you out for what you are: the biggest, most cowardly, p__sy to start a “political” blog here in Maryland.

Oh, and one more thing… to show you just what kind of a p___sy you are, you ought to be man enough to hide behind your anonymity and allow for contrary comments on your blog, even if they are moderated.  But you’re that much of a wimperling that you can’t even handle the idea of contrary comments.

In the end, I will leave you with this.  One of two things will happen:  either you’re going to run out of material and time and will tire of writing a blog that is so content thin, and the blog will die; or you’re anonymity is going to disappear… and the blog will die, since you’re not going to be able to hide.

Either way, the blog dies. So, as Winston Wolf says to Jules and Vincent in Pulp Fiction, “Lots ofluck, gentlemen.”  You’re certainly going to need it—especially with your lack of intestinal fortitude.

UPDATE:  9:30pm EST, Saturday 11/23

So, apparently the Baby Geniuses at MDPoliticsWatch missed school on the day they taught the concept, "never make your opponent's point for him" in debate class.  On cue, as we expected, MDPoliticsWatch took the bait, and reposted, verbatim, this original blog piece in which we said that their only real axe to grind in the #WellRunState was with RedMaryland, and made comments demonstrating that they do, in fact, have an axe to grind (albeit a dull one, apparently).

A couple of minor points:  first off, you didn't "pee" in anyone's Wheaties(TM). You behaved like a coward, and we called you on it.  Taking creepy pics of a female blogger from behind and anonymously posting them to your blog (and Twitter) merits that, at the very least.

Second, pick up a 6th grade textbook on how to write.  Please.  Your prose offends those of us who actually take the time to carefully construct a sentence in the English language.  Not only is your headline missing a comma and misspells the possessive (it should be either "Somebody's" or "Somebodies' ", with an apostrophe somewhere in it), but the phrase is "James and me", not "James and I" in your commentary's first sentence.  Here's a tip:  take "James" (your make-believe partner) out of the picture and visualize the sentence:  RM appears to be upset with... (and then insert the appropriate pronoun, which in this case would be "me", since you're not the subject of the sentence, but the object of it).

Third, we didn't "give you so much free press".  We called you out for your cowardly behavior.  You, in turn, did precisely what we thought you would do and gave US a TON of free press by reposting my piece verbatim.  

Thank you.  Thanks for the free press and thanks for proving our point.

And you're welcome for the English lesson.  We know you're not only a huge coward and a dolt, but we know you're also ungrateful, too.


1 comment:

Mike said...

I had not previously read this article until Media Matters criticized it - so thank you MM for bringing it to my attention.

GREAT ARTICLE ANDREW LANGER!!

Annonymous Mike (aka: Mike Phillips)

ShareThis