I guess this is

Views

I guess this is a sign of how tangled and jumbled up feelings about the Easterbrook matter are. About half the people who wrote in took my comments last night as foolishly exonerating of Easterbrook’s alleged anti-Semitism, while just as many thought I was accusing him of being an anti-Semite. No point in my interpreting my own comments: the post itself is just below this one.

Meanwhile, Atrios says that people like me or those at TAP or TNR have a blind spot when it comes to “taking a harsh look at people like Easterbrook, or Jack Shafer, or Kaus, etc.”

As I said, I’ve never met Easterbrook. But most every one of my friends has. It’s probably just coincidence that I haven’t. I completely stand by what I said last night. But I also think this is a very reasonable point to make. Opinion journalism is an extremely small profession — getting smaller everyday, it would seem. The people in the profession tend to know each other — even to a great degree across ideological boundaries.

It’s not necessarily that people are unwilling to criticize each other or to malign each others’ characters, though there’s certainly plenty of that. It’s more that it’s harder to malign someone or take a very dark view of them when you have some sense of the whole person — or even that the person in question is a person. This is as much a caveat about DC opinion journalists as it is a defense of them. It’s like part of the warning label that each of them should have plastered on them — like cigarettes or booze.

I’ve lived in DC now for just over four years. And for my part, I’ve struggled to balance my acclimation to the place with an abiding recognition of its essential corruption and vapidity. I commented on this last May when I said that the reaction to Sid Blumenthal’s book, the Clinton Wars was an example of …

Washington’s insider culture and its prestige press corps which is — as a group, if not individually — corrupt, rudderless and often insipid. (I’d say nasty, brutish and short, but many of them tower over me.) The coverage of the Clinton presidency is the ultimate example, with its whole swirl of babyboomer self-loathing, historical ignorance and nonsense, the willingness to be led around by black-minded reactionaries, politics as Society page, the whole lot of it. (Much of what I’m talking about here I discussed more clearly and crisply in a column on Maureen Dowd’s Pulitzer Prize in the now-defunct online magazine Feed in April 1999.) This is difficult for me to say — not least because I live and work and know many of these people, and consider many to be friends — and even more because I’m not nearly established as most and must rely on these folks for my livelihood. But there’s no getting around the truth of it. Blumenthal is disliked by many in DC because he is a critic — and to my mind, a devastating one — of their vapidity, ignorance and willingness to be used.

These thoughts were driven home to me this weekend when I watched the discussion panel on Meet the Press. With the exception of Robin Wright, who’s a real pro, the group has become as perfect an example of Washington’s geriatric and right-leaning insider culture as you’ll ever see.

Oh, the stories to tell …

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