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April 07, 2005

End of the Powerline

With the Schiavo memos proven to be from a Republican source and Powerline not apologizing for their truthless innuendo and slander, it's time to break out the popcorn and see if Big Trunk and Hindrocket can clear the shark. Odds are on massive carnage, but they might just end up laughing stocks. For that, see August Pollack on "Powerline-was-completely-fucking-wrong-gate" (Best. Gate. Ever.). It's not just that they have no shame, it's that they once met shame on a street, beat the shit out of him, rolled him up in a carpet, and threw him off a bridge. And don't even ask me about the nightmare they put truth through. To paraphrase Marv in Sin City, after what they did to poor honesty, hell must have seemed like heaven.

Powerline, we must begin to understand, has no fucking idea what they're talking about at any given moment. Once upon a time, some GOP operative sent by the Ghost of Nixon got something right for them in the Free Republic comments section, and ever since then the homo-erotically named bloggers over there have thought his success their own and tried to get a bunch of other Important Stories About Treasonous Democrats right too. But they don't. Reading their site is like watching a blind child in a dog park -- you keep trying to warn him not to step in the piles of shit, but you're never able to get there quite quick enough. They want to make a point on Carter and end up calling him a traitor -- ooh, all over your shoe! They want to attack the AP but end up proving themselves utterly ignorant of how cameras work -- damn, you got it on your sock! They try to accuse Democrats of faking the Schiavo memo until an aide to current Republican Senator and Bush's former HUD Secretary Mel Martinez admits to writing it -- Agh, it's all over you!

They get nothing right. Their fact-checking skills are atrocious. They neither report nor call experts, it's just whatever they invented twenty seconds ago. Watching them work is like attending a high school debate match in the impromptu event. Arguments are created on the fly, accuracy is unimportant so long as the product accuses the "MSM" or Democrats of some cardinal sin that'll leave Powerline's sycophantic readers moaning with the exquisite pleasure that comes only from having one's biases expertly stroked. The plausibility of their claims ranges from pathetic to laughable (has Big Trunk debated PZ Myers on the biological uncertainty of evolution yet?) and their traffic and credibility is entirely predicated on the work someone else did, success they've been totally unable to replicate. They have failed.

So enough's enough -- can we please stop taking them seriously? They've exhausted their purpose, which was proving that the blogosphere isn't self-correcting and, in fact, offers rich rewards to opportunists with a polygamous relationship to the truth. Powerline's not useful anymore. They're not funny, like Glenn, or intellectually interesting, like Tacitus (old school Tacitus, anyway), or rhetorically talented, like Sullivan. They're just there, hopping up and down and begging someone to take their latest theory -- thought up seven seconds ago on the can -- seriously. Don't oblige them.

April 7, 2005 in Weblogs | Permalink

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Comments

There's this scene in John Hughes' "Some Kind of Wonderful" where the Eric Stoltz character tells the football captain/rich fratboy/asshole guy, "You're over."

Posted by: ROXANNE | Apr 7, 2005 1:49:17 PM

In what way, exactly, is Powerline different from all of the other media outlets preferred by Republicans? Their similarities to other outlets that cater to people who prefer comfort over truth guarantees that Powerline will be around for a very long time.

Posted by: Stephen | Apr 7, 2005 2:11:07 PM

Do you have any concerns at all about how innaccurate the original news story on this memo was? Supposedly this memo was released by 'senior Republican official' and distributed to all Republican Senators.

The information that we have now is that Martinez gave this to one Senator, a Democrat. Either someone lied to the press or the reporter simply made up facts. Either way there is some cause for concern here I think.

Powerline obviously speculated on the source of the memo. Doubtless their political bias colored their speculation. But do you really want to throw stones for that sin? I have seen plenty of speculation on your blog, I certainly speculate on things myself, and it is natural that our bias effects that process.

Incidentally, I think it is (and was) obvious that Republicans were exploiting the Schiavo situation for political gain. Anyone who isn't rabidly partisan believes that. Conversely of course, the Democrats exploited this memo for political gain. Happens all the time.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Apr 7, 2005 2:15:58 PM

There is a vast difference between exploiting for political gain a memo written by your enemy that exposes them as vile and opportunistic scum, and actually being the vile and opportunistic scum exploiting a brain-damaged person for political gain. The former may "happen all the time." The latter . . .

Posted by: On Second Thought | Apr 7, 2005 2:24:51 PM

I'm sorry, this post has used up your allotment of metaphors for the month.

Posted by: SP | Apr 7, 2005 2:26:13 PM

It's not just that they have no shame, it's that they once met shame on a street, beat the shit out of him, rolled him up in a carpet, and threw him off a bridge.

Best. Ezra. Klein. Sentence. Ever.

Reading their site is like watching a blind child in a dog park -- you keep trying to warn him not to step in the piles of shit, but you're never able to get there quite quick enough.

No. Wait. This. Is--ahh, the hell with it. The whole damn thing is great.

Posted by: Tom Hilton | Apr 7, 2005 2:50:26 PM

Dave Justus writes:

"The information that we have now is that Martinez gave this to one Senator, a Democrat."

The whole point of Ezra's post is that hack right wing bloggers such as Powerline just pull stuff straight of their ass in real time, which prove to be wrong as time goes on.

Martinez says that he only gave it to one Senator, who turned out to be Tom Harkin, who told Mike Allen and ABC. Various bloggers, such John A. at AmericaBlog, have pointed out that, for example, Mr. DeLay quoted exact language from the memo that supposedly wasn't distributed to anyone. Who are we going to believe here, the reporter who got it right in the first place, or all of these people who are speculating out of their ass?

This is just like Abu Graib in that that the GOP has identified the scapegoat and now the story for the major media will be "move along now, nothing to see." One month later, some hit job piece on Mike Allen (see file under Hirsch, Sy) will show up in National Review which all talk show men, and right wing bloggers will show as case #4324 of "liberal media bias" and 18 months later it will be reported on page A32 on a Saturday morning that yes, the memo was distributed to the GOP, but hey, it was a long time ago and is totally irrelevant. (see file under Sanchez, Ricardo, ret. US Army)

Posted by: DBaker | Apr 7, 2005 2:52:35 PM

Do you have any concerns at all about how innaccurate the original news story on this memo was? Supposedly this memo was released by 'senior Republican official' and distributed to all Republican Senators.

The information that we have now is that Martinez gave this to one Senator, a Democrat. Either someone lied to the press or the reporter simply made up facts. Either way there is some cause for concern here I think.

Wow, in the comments to a rant about how certain right-wing bloggers rush in without actually knowing or caring what there talking about, no less?

Um, you do know that congressional Republicans were using talking points from the memo that they never, ever saw, right? You do realize that putting 'senior Republican official' in single quotes ignores that fact that Senator Martinez was point man on this issue, and sponsor of the Senate legislation, right?

Perhaps you honestly don't realize the ridiculousness of this scenario:

(1) Senior legal counsel to the sponsor of Senate legislation on the Schiavo matter, in his free time, draws up a list of talking points, apparently purely as an intellectual exercise.

(2) Senior legal counsel accidentally gives purely theoretical memo to Senate sponsor.

(3) Senate sponsor gives whatever stuff he happens to have in his pockets, which he never reads anyway, to Senator Harkin and no one else.

(4) House and Senate Republicans independently and coincidentally arrive at the same talking points listed in the memo.

(5) Evil liberal reporter lies about all of the above.

Wait, wait! Replace (1) with "George Soros disguises himself as anonymous staffer" and it all makes sense. It is the fault of Democrats and the liberal biased media! Thanks, Powerline, for helping America once again!

Oh, and on a more serious note, thanks to On Second Thought for pointing out the absolutely revolting moral equivalence that "happens all the time" now with so many right-wing pundits.

Posted by: mds | Apr 7, 2005 2:54:48 PM

Crud. "they're" "they're" "they're" + 4997 more times.

Posted by: mds | Apr 7, 2005 2:56:12 PM

I worry about bloggers who feel it necessary to 'check the competition' by reading this wingnut crap day after day.

If someone were forced to do this wingnut check, any court would quickly determine this is cruel and unusual punishment and must be stopped.

Maybe we need to establish a rotation schedule for the troops in the trenches, and call up the national guard for extended tours to relieve the regular army.

And how about some post-traumatic stress treatment centers (Hawaii, Las Vegas, Miami Beach, Sidney, Vancouver, Rome?) for these distressed liberal knights of truth and enlightenment?

Personally, I avoid those nasty, brutish and mind-bending wingnut sites, secure in the knowledge that the Ezra's of the world will tell me what current atrocities are being committed.

And my shoes have no shit on them to scrape off daily.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 7, 2005 3:02:07 PM

"It's not just that they have no shame, it's that they once met shame on a street, beat the shit out of him, rolled him up in a carpet, and threw him off a bridge. And don't even ask me about the nightmare they put truth through."

Dammit, you just made me laugh on dark, gray day when I have a cold.

Although I do have to disagree with you -- everytime we refer to them or Malkin as the "voice" of the right wing on the INET helps us, as long as they continue to be so f**** stupid. Hey, can't we use dumbass strawmen, too?

Posted by: Chris Rasmussen | Apr 7, 2005 3:08:07 PM

I preferred "homo-erotically named bloggers".

I must say I've never noticed that before.

Posted by: Boethius | Apr 7, 2005 3:36:04 PM

Great Caesar's ghost - how can anyone still be doubting Mike Allen's reporting when it's revealed that Martinez was covering up the truth for two weeks? The onus is not on the reporter to prove that more Republicans saw this, just because the Republicans say they didn't. They lie. They told the American Spectator that they were rounding up Democratic suspects who forged the memo. They told Joshua Claybourn at In The Agora that they saw a Harry Reid aide forge the memo.

The Republicans lied to cover their asses. Who cares if they deny seeing the memo? Why trust them?

Posted by: Gary Johnston | Apr 7, 2005 3:46:50 PM

"I worry about bloggers who feel it necessary to 'check the competition' by reading this wingnut crap day after day.

The problem with your statement is that this wingnut crap was deemed to be "Blog of the Year" by Time Magazine.

If we don't call bullshit on this crap (and as an aside crap is so apropos) they become legitimized by the 85 percent of the population who have heard about the so called Rathergate, but have lost the context, because they don't take the time to read stuff.

Hinderaker was invited on to CNN by MWO Whore of the Year Mistah Howard Kurtz to comment on this. I am glad that people take the time and effort to read this "wingnut crap" and put it in context. Malkin is on our local drive time talk show all the time. Hugh Hewitt is deemed to be THE authority on blogging, just because he wrote a book about it and is on TV all the time.

Media Whores Online, may it rest in piece, used to talk about the idiot-Americans, you know the ones who call 911 over a cheeseburger order at Burger King (which is linked to by Ezra's post) The idiot Americans are already getty antsy about the price of gas being so high even though we had to bomb the shit out of somebody is some towl head wearing country that somewhere over where those terr'ists came from. There the ones that decide elections and more power to all of you bloggers providing yeoman's work commenting on all those wingnuts out there!

Posted by: DBaker | Apr 7, 2005 3:48:36 PM

I did not intend to imply that the two examples of political exploitation were equal. I agree that what the Republicans did was worse and was very against the idea and disappointed in them. My point was that politicians tend to exploit anything they can for political gain. I don't think either party has a monopoly on that characteristic.

Perhaps it is just me, but when I think of Republican leaders in reference to distributing a memo to the Republican Senators, I think of Frist or perhaps Rove. Not Martinez.

Yes, I am speculating that someone either lied to the reporter or the reporter didn't check his facts. Many of you are speculating that the source of the memo was someone else and that this is just a fall guy or that the memo did circulate despite denials. Fair enough. I am the one who said we all engage in speculation and that it isn't some horrible crime to do so. That was intended to be the central point of my commnet, and that point has been totally ignored.

As to the comment that these talking points were used by many Republicans, most of them do have a known origin, (http://www.traditionalvalues.org/modules.php?sid=2179) which existed before the memo in question. The only thing truley unique about this memo was the assertion that it would be a great political issue.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Apr 7, 2005 4:19:06 PM

Personally, I found powerline's Schiavo-memo-moment similar to Captain Queeg trying to re-live the past triump of proving a duplicate key to the wardroom did exist. Substitute "memo" for "strawberries" and there isn't any difference at all.

Posted by: Alex | Apr 7, 2005 4:39:21 PM

Dave Justus writes: "I am the one who said we all engage in speculation and that it isn't some horrible crime to do so."

Speak for yourself, my man! Speculation, by its very nature, has a tendency to come straight out of one's ass, for the simple reason that the speculation that the blogosphere (and, gawd, I hate that word!), albeit "right-wing" (o/k/a "wingnuttery") or "left-wing" (o/k/a "moonbattery") generates is, at best, of a third hand nature.

As far as the origin you cite, we have a chicken or egg problem here, that is, what came first, the memo, or the web site? The only person that knows that is the man who actually drafted the memo, you know that low level employee errr legal counsel from Mr. Martinez' office.

As an aside, I am glad I don't have that lawyer on retainer, because he sure isn't a really good wordsmith.

Posted by: DBaker | Apr 7, 2005 4:46:38 PM

"...accuracy is unimportant so long as the product accuses the "MSM" or Democrats of some cardinal sin that'll leave Powerline's sycophantic readers moaning with the exquisite pleasure that comes only from having one's biases expertly stroked."

Oooh, I bet that had the Big Trunk and his Hinderocket breathing heavily.

Wish I'd said that.

Posted by: digby | Apr 7, 2005 4:47:57 PM

Of course I could just say you've "poo-pooed" their versimultude.

Posted by: opit | Apr 7, 2005 4:48:24 PM

Here's my favorite part of the Powerline post:

"Mike Allen has an article in tomorrow's Washington Post, which says that Mel Martinez's "legal counsel," Brian Darling, was the author of the memo. Otherwise, his story doesn't add much that is new,"

You mean, other than the fact that THE REPORTER IDENTIFIED THE AUTHOR of something you claimed was faked, there was nothing much new to the story.

Posted by: Chris Rasmussen | Apr 7, 2005 5:41:54 PM

"can we please stop taking them seriously?" When did "we" ever START taking right-wing blogs seriously? Most of the folks I know ignore them; there are hardly enough hours in the day to keep up with the blogs we do like, let alone those that are a waste of time.

Posted by: Elayne Riggs | Apr 7, 2005 9:41:43 PM

Great post. Beautifully written.

:)

Posted by: -asx- | Apr 8, 2005 12:28:34 AM

Glenn Reynolds is funny? I had no idea.

Posted by: Julian Elson | Apr 8, 2005 4:25:33 AM

That was a wonderful set of metaphors there. It was like you were channelling "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and "Get your war on" at the same time.

Truly excellent!

For the curious:
Get your war on.
(http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war44.html

Posted by: Kelly | Apr 8, 2005 9:07:24 AM

On the evolution debate front: no, no word from any of the gang at PowerLine.

Oh, wait. There were a couple of late night phone calls where somebody shouted "FUCK!" at me a lot. Was that it?

Posted by: PZ Myers | Apr 8, 2005 12:33:03 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.