Ezra Klein, blogger for the “liberal” American Prospect, got caught by Politico coordinating his stories with other liberal bloggers and journalists. Exposed for being a journalistic fraud, Klein needed an enemy. He found Ann Althouse. Althouse, who has a very popular blog, could be considered “conservative” (as in, when a law professor doesn’t kneel at the alter of Obama, she is a “conservative”).
Althouse’s crime? She linked to the Politico story in a post at 8:54 a.m. on March 19, 2009 under the title “The Journolist.” Althouse’s blog gets tons of comments, unlike mine, which only gets a lot of comments when there is an Instalanche. Apparently, some of the comments were hostile to Klein, so Klein decided to take out Althouse by smearing her as an anti-Semite.
No, Klein didn’t say that “Ann Althouse is an anti-Semite.” The obvious weasel that he is, Klein did it indirectly under a post at 1:50 p.m. on March 20, 2009, titled “Are Ann Althouse’s Commenters Anti-Semites?” Klein did a simultaneous Tweet with the same title. [Correction 3/21, 3:50 p.m.: The sequence was Klein tweets, Althouse objects, Klein posts the full post.]
This is how the left does it. When you can’t find racist/sexist/anti-Semitic/homophobic comments by a conservative, you impugn their reputation by finding some lunatic in a crowd (or in blog comments) who did make such a comment.
Remember the hoax that someone at a McCain rally supposedly shouted “Kill Obama”? The left-wing smear machine (read, mainstream media) seized on that apparently fictitious comment to smear John McCain supporters as violent racists. The claim turned out not to be true, but no matter, the race card had been played (as it was throughout the Obama campaign).
Now Klein plays the “anti-Semite” card against Althouse by using anonymous blog comments against her. Who placed the anti-Semitic blog comments? Was it Klein himself acting under a pseudonym? I have no evidence of that, but how about if I ran a post titled “Did Ezra Klein post anti-Semitic comments to set up Ann Althouse?”
Klein, who is internet savvy, knew what his headline would do. Do a search for Ann Althouse on Google now, and you turn up blog posts concerning the anti-semitism. Forget her scholarship, teaching, popular blog. No, Klein has succeeded in making the discussion about Althouse about anti-semitism.
Althouse has demanded an apology, which Klein used as an excuse for more attacks on Althouse. This is the dilemma people face when dealing with people like Klein. Perpetuate the back-and-forth, and you have guaranteed an even greater chain of Google links.
Klein’s attack on Althouse was grossly unfair. One of the problems with allowing open commentary on a blog and not screening for content is that one opens oneself up to these sort of attacks. Maybe the comments at issue were real, maybe they were not. But that is beside the point. The point is that Ezra Klein dug deep into his smear-merchant bag of tricks by going after Althouse in this way.
Great job Ezra. I hope that you coordinated your attack with your fellow Journolistas.
UPDATE: I think I missed a point here. Not only did Klein smear Althouse, he did so by misrepresenting the nature of the “anti-Semitic” comments. Were the comments cited by Klein really anti-Semitic, or Jewish commenters’ attempts at humor?
The comment by the anonymous “Jdeeripper” cited by Klein lists names of Jewish members of Klein’s Journolist, with the comment that the Journolist: “Looks like more of a White Jewish male liberal conspiracy to me…. Gotta love the Jewish ethnocentrism and liberal ‘progressive’ self deception among so called liberals. Not big fans of ‘diversity’ when applied to themselves.” Nothing anti-Semitic so far. A sad, but true, commentary on the liberal establishment.
The give-away that “Jdeeripper” probably is Jewish is this line: “There were two women in the article, Eve Fairbanks and Lisa Lerer. Two male goyim Mike Allen, Ben Smith and one other Jewish male who is not a conservative Michael Goldfarb.” The term “goyim” is a term used by Jews to refer to non-Jews. Now that isn’t proof of the writer’s religion since the term is widely known, but it does suggest to me that this is not an anti-Semitic post, but an attempt to point out the hypocrisy of the left-wing establishment which holds up one diversity standard for the rest of the world, while not honoring the standard themselves.
Sarcasm, yes. Anti-Semitism, no.
The other comment cited by Klein has to do with a series of comments by apparently Jewish commenter “Maxine Weiss” regarding Klein’s heritage in California and his appearance. Here’s part of Weiss’ offending string of comments:
Wouldn’t it be absolutely hysterical if an unusually dark-skinned Abel Klein was originally Abel Gomez etc… And simply changed his name converted to Judiaism, and got the very white, off-beat, and full-lipped Jacqueline to marry him. It certainly would explain a few things. As I say, I’m probably wrong though.
Again, nothing overtly anti-Semitic; looks more like a tongue-in-cheek mocking of Klein (who can mock, but can’t take being mocked). Weiss has a blog, and while it’s not clear if that is her real name, she’s hardly fully anonymous. Weiss’ attempt at humor may fall flat, but it clearly was an attempt at humor.
So Klein really has pulled off a coup here. The thin-skinned Klein, who can dish it out but can’t take it, took comments mocking him by anonymous apparently Jewish commenters, twisted them into false accusations of anti-Semitism, then used them to smear Ann Althouse.
What a sleaze. But then again, Klein is the head Journolista.
UPDATE No. 2: Here’s what others are saying:
Shreveport – “Klein has effectively smeared Althouse by his twisting of the issue. At the very least he should be exposed for the juvenile “journalistic” tactics he has used. As bloggers we are all subject to this kind of snarky, smarmy smear tactic.”
American Power – “Ann is usually pretty restrained regarding flame wars, but I LOVE IT when she call these folks out.”
Typical Klein Commenter – “I wouldn’t apologize to Ann Althouse if I accidently ran her over, but only because I’d be afraid she’d find out my name. I’d high tail it out of there immediately.” I guess that leads to the blog post title:
Are Ezra Klein’s Commenters Road Rage Maniacs?—————————————————-
UPDATE No. 3: Here’s what someone who claims to be wise said about people who attack other people on the blogosphere instead of engaging in substantive debate (the names have been changed to reflect the current reality):
Eventually, inevitably, people like [Ezra Klein] get scared, or beat, or defensive, and they fall back on what’s easiest: Trying to discredit, rather than debate. It’s the first refuge of the scoundrel, and that’s what [Klein] proved [him]self. [H]e’s not only brought dishonor on h[is] own reputation, he took what should’ve been a proud day for bloggers and the blogosphere and irreparably marred it for those involved, [Ann Althouse] in particular. [H]e sank low, hit hard, and smeared cruelly. That’s not what this medium is supposed to be about. [Klein] should be ashamed.
Klein’s attack on Althouse is pure “faux” outrage. The guy was raised Jewish but has confessed his agnosticism, and he apparently “hates” anything having to do with organizes religion.
And Protein Wisdom chimes in:
It’s mourning in America, people. And Ezra Klein is tweeting his way to Vichy commander.
How proud his parents must be!
See related Posts: Liberal Ugliness Revealed On The JournoList; The JournoList Should Be Called The PlagiarList, Release ALL The E-Mails, Ezra, My First Tweet: The JournoList Sure Has A Lot Of Anti-Semitic Commenters,