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May 28, 2004

MATTHEW YGLESIAS is defending the press from charges of engaging in behavior that some of its members have admitted (rooting for American defeat), while accusing me of something I didn't do (inciting vandalism against the NYT).

Yglesias omits any mention of journalistic admissions (some collected or linked here) of delight at problems in Iraq, or even hope for a U.S. defeat. On the other hand, he accuses me of a "campaign to incite the defacement of New York Times distribution boxes." However, if you read the post in question, you'll see a crucial phrase undercutting Yglesias' thesis: "Don't do that!" (To his credit, Yglesias links the post, but he never explains how this could constitute incitement. However, though accusing me of advocating "mob violence," he fails to note this post, in which I talk about how press irresponsibility may undermine press freedom in the context of changed First Amendment law, not peasants with pitchforks.)

Though Yglesias has gotten shriller since joining the Kuttner empire, this is unworthy of him, and I'm disappointed. However, his touchiness on this subject makes me think that perhaps the press realizes that its behavior is harming its reputation. And it is. Instead of blaming the messenger, perhaps a bit of soul-searching would be in order.

UPDATE: Matt is charged with violating Godwin's law here and here. And reader John Mattaboni calls on me to note this straw man:

Yglesias: "The argument here - that everything is fine except the media coverage - is absurd on its face."

It's absurd on its face because no one is asserting that but him.

Good point. In fact, I've made the contrary observation before. For a more nuanced (it doesn't compare me, Michael Barone, and Morton Kondracke to Hitler!), if still somewhat defensive, response to the press criticism, read this post by Jay Rosen.