Purple Update

So Ben Domenech has resigned. It looks like (at least from what I’ve seen) his plagiarism wasn’t limited to college movie-review articles, but extended out into later public writing as well. So, whatever the motives (and shotgun methodology) of his detractors, the facts do seem to show that the accusations were true. “Youthful indiscretion” may be a justifiable defense in college, but after that, you kind of have to face the real world and its consequences. And for a writer, plagiarism is right up there on the list of most-egregious offenses (see the whole Tequila Mockingbird saga).

So it’s over. I hate to agree with the conservative crowd (not to mention the wingnut apologists), but can we just move along now?

I said before that I thought the rationale for bringing Domenech to Post.com was utterly idiotic. Or at least the professed rationale — let’s not forget that the newspaper business (even the online newspaper business) is a business. So what if the long-discredited myth of “media bias” makes a bunch of victim-mentality wingnuts start screaming for “balance”? That’s not enough to base a business decision on (like I said, that would be idiotic). But if the addition of a right-leaning commentator will get those wingnuts (along with a sizable chunk of more mainstream conservatives) to start reading? That’s a sound decision — so long as it doesn’t get everyone else to stop reading (and I’m not seeing that happening).

Post.com didn’t silence Dan Froomkin, did they? So sure, just as there’s an argument that feeding the people just one opinion might make them unaware that there is a dissenting view (see Egypt or Belarus for timely demonstrations), there might be an argument to be made that if you feed people too much of a fringe point of view, they might start thinking that the fringe view is accepted on a par with more mainstream thinking. So if the liberal blogosphere thought Domenech represented such a “fringe” view (and remember, I haven’t read Domenech’s work — not an excuse or a snide remark, just a fact), then I can readily understand their opposition.

But let’s be realistic — as much as we like to retain this overinflated opinion of ourselves, nobody is having their opinions changed by blogs. Our readership — even for those bloggers on mainstream outlets like Post.com — isn’t popping by for information. They’re coming to be entertained. Okay, so there’s an informative aspect to it, but first and foremost, people will spend their time reading blogs — time they could be spending doing any number of other things (like working, for example) — because they enjoy the writing. That may be because the writing is funny, incisive, or just makes people think about things a little bit differently. But come on — we’re not measurably influencing national opinion here. And far more often than not, the blogs one reads will be those where the writer shares — at least generally — the viewpoints of the reader. Hence the very existence of one-stop-shops like RedState.

Besides, the Post has no shortage of conservative — sometimes bordering on wingnut — commentators. Okay, we’re not talking Cal Thomas, but nobody’s going to pretend that Charles Krauthammer’s got a liberal bone in his body. And that’s on the actual op-ed page, not the nebulous ether of cyberspace.

Post.com is considering bringing in another conservative commentator (though they’re likely to be doing their homework a little more thoroughly this time around). And you know what? Who cares? You like it? Read it. Don’t like it? Go on with your life.

Come on, people. You can’t complain about the wingnut minority still screaming “liberal bias” while doing pretty much the same thing. Especially when the stakes are effectively nonexistent. You’re just making their case for them.

We’ve got much bigger fish to fry.

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