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September 03, 2004 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-09-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

are "hyper-literate, highly net-
worked, influential and affluent."
The company's recent survey of
more than 17,000 blog readers
found that 61 percent are over age
30, 75 percent make more than
$45,000 a year and most are "media
mavens."
Men outnumber women four to
one in the Blogosphere; and when
they're not reading blogs, such as
Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo
talkingpointsmemo.com they're flip-
ping through magazines such as the
New Yorker, the Economist, Newsweek
and the Atlantic Monthly.
That doesn't mean all blog mavens
are liberal. For example Jonah
Goldberg has attracted quite a fol-
lowing on the nationalreview.com
Web site; Drezner, a conservative,
has done well, and the Outside the
Beltway site outsidethebeltway.com
also has a big conservative following.
Eighty-two percent of blog readers
believe that television is worthless or
only marginally useful in providing
news and information, according to
the Blogads survey, and they head to
blogs in search of the news and
opinion they can't find elsewhere.
Blog readers — whatever the polit-
ical leaning — also tend to be ruth-
lessly unforgiving.

Blogging And Flogging

MarkosZuniga, author of the Daily
Kos blog www.dailykos.com learned
that lesson the hard way after he
made some controversial remarks
about the deaths of several American
contractors in Iraq.
"I feel nothing over [their]
deaths," wrote Zuniga. "They aren't
in Iraq because of orders or because
they are there trying to help the peo-
ple make Iraq a better place. They
are there to wage war for profit.
Screw them."
The remark triggered such an
uproar that Jewish Democratic Rep.
Martin Frost of Texas pulled the
paid ads he was running on Daily
Kos — blogs are fertile ground for
fund-raising, many politicians have
discovered — and Democratic presi-
dential contender John Kerry
removed a permanent link from his

own campaign blog to Daily Kos.
All that was nothing compared to
the avalanche of criticism that
Zuniga says his fellow bloggers
heaped on him.
Alterman received a similar flog-
ging when, in 2002, he announced
he had no "moral problem" with
Israel's attack on a Hamas leader.
"Sheik Salah Shehada could have
protected his family by keeping away
from them. He didn't," wrote
Alterman, "and owing to his clear
legitimacy as a military target, they
are dead, too. ... So tough luck,
fella. War is hell."
In a subsequent posting, Alterman
clarified his remarks:
"I think I better apologize for the
words 'tough luck' at the end of yes-
terday's entry. They are inappropri-
ate in a situation where so many
innocents, including children, were
killed."
Drezner says he prefers to avoid the
topic of Israel and the Palestinians as
much as possible.
"I don't blog about the Israel-
'Palestine' issue all that much, in
part, because it's just depressing.
Fundamentally depressing. Second, I
can't stand the comments I get. ... It's
ultra-polarizing and I don't have my
own mind made up on it."
OxBlog's Adesnik has a different
take.
"A few years ago, I felt exactly the
way Dan does about the Israel-
Palestinian conflict. You can't get
away from Israel when you go to
yeshivah. But you can avoid it in col-
lege and graduate school."
All that changed after Sept. 11, he
says.
"I realized that my intentional
ignorance left me totally unprepared
for the day when the Middle East
became a matter of life and death for
Americans and not just for Arabs and
Israelis," he says. "With Iraq domi-
nating the headlines, I don't write
about Israel as much as I want. But I
am committed to learning more."
Adesnik also notes that religious
topics tend to inspire some of the
most passionate responses on
OxBlog.
"When Mel Gibson's movie [The

Passion of the Christ] came
out a few months ago, I sug-
gested in one post that the
Gospels were inherently anti-
Semitic, or at least anti-
Judaic," Adesnik said.
"In response, I received
detailed theological argu-
Drezner
ments to the contrary from a
half-dozen Christian perspec-
tives. While I'm still not sure
what I think about the issue,
I know for a fact that
Christians across the United
States are putting a lot of
thought and care into
• Alterman
answering this kind of very
hard question."
"[By] contrast, 13 years of
yeshivah education left me
with the impression that
Christians were instinctive
anti-Semites who aren't even
open-minded enough to face
up to their prejudices,"
Adesnik
Adesnik said.

Victims And Villains

If the Blogosphere is tough on its
own, it can be ruthless with others.
Arguably, one of its most notable
victims was Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.,
who was forced to step down as
majority leader because of racially
insensitive remarks he made at the
100th birthday party for the once-
fierce segregationist Sen. Strom
Thurmond, R-S.C., in 2002.
"When Strom Thurmond ran for
president, [Mississippi] voted for
him," Lott said. "We're proud of it.
And if the rest of the country had fol-
lowed our lead, we wouldn't have had
all these problems over all these years,
either."
While the mainstream press initially
ignored Lott's remarks, several bloom
gets — including ABC's the Note on
abcnews.corn, more.abcnews.go.com/
sections/politics/TheNote/TheNote
.html, a must read inside the Beltway
— skewered the Mississippi lawmaker
into a losing act of contrition.
Some in the blogging community
also take credit for the resignation of
New York Times Executive Editor •
Howell Raines, arguing that it was the
blogging community's obsession with

disgraced journalist Jayson
Blair's misdeeds and his editors'
missteps that kept the story
alive.
For his part, Drezner believes
that blogs also are playing an
important role in the political
process by framing debates.
And Alterman points out
that blogs also pass on informa-
tion he believes "would not
otherwise get out."
Today, however, Alterman
has a different fish to fry.
It's been weeks since the
Blankley firestorm ignited in
Blogland, and the Soros com-
ments are still bugging him; so
Alterman heads to his blog to
pick up where his Nation piece
left off and deliver a few more
blows to Blankley, talk show
host Bill O'Reilly and the rest
of the "Republican slime
machine" for attacking Soros
on the basis that he is a "com-
mitted atheist."
"That's one of the great things
about blogs," Alterman confessed. "I
only had 1,000 words in my column
talking about [Blankley]; but there
were a few things still bothering me,
and I'd like to let them out."
Adesnik also appreciates the candor
with which a blogger can write.
"One of the most attractive things
about blogging is that when you read
a blog, you feel like you are talking to
a real human being," he said. "In con-
trast, professional journalists tend to
cultivate an air of authoritative objec-
tivity, which I find to be both artificial
and cold."
Adesnik also enjoys the occasional
opportunity to write about his person-
al life.
Last year, he amused OxBlog readers
with tales of his "impressive run of
first-round losses in some amateur
karate tournaments," and he also
wrote about his mother's ordination as
a rabbi in May 2003.
"I was extremely proud of her — as
I've always been — and decided that I
had the right to shep some nachas in
the Blogosphere," Adesnik said.



Cover package continues on page 30

9/ 3
2004

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