Peter Fallow -- Bizarro World Romenesko!!

If there were ever a time for an arrogant, drunken, lazy, ethically challenged and totally fictitious reporter to comment on the state of journalism, it is now!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Socking it to Steyn

I am delighted to see that someone by the name of Dan Kennedy from something called the Boston Phoenix has put the tongs to Mark Steyn, the fulminating right-wing polemicist with the vaguely Jewish-sounding name.

If anyone ever needed a "woodshedding," it's him. Kennedy's headline says it all: "Write, twist, smear, and sneer. Repeat!"

So true, and so typical of the right. That's the kind of label you could never hang on crusading columnists such as Paul Krugman, Robert Scheer, Eric Alterman or Joe Conason. (Conason's also quoted in the piece.) Great journalists, all.

I don't care if Steyn is "the most toxic right-wing pundit you’ve never heard of" or "not well known in the United States." It also doesn't matter that he's not even well known to newspaper readers in Boston, the city whose coffee shops and used-record stores are the main circulation venues for Kennedy's brave little Boston Phoenix. (Steyn's syndicated column doesn't run in the Boston Globe or the Boston Herald, so consider yourself lucky, Beantown.) But Kennedy, perceptive genius that he is, correctly points out that this Canadian wingnut's "political screeds are published in English-speaking countries around the world." (Though not so often in Canada anymore, it seems.)

Hear, hear. I think it's worth publishing a 4,000-word anti-Steyn essay in a weekly newspaper in Boston if there's even a slim chance that it could change just one mind in Auckland. Or Toronto.

And I especially liked this bit:

"The effect, in all too many instances, is of a second-rate Maureen Dowd — that is, of a writer who makes the same kind of pop-culture analogies as the New York Times columnist, only without the deft touch."

That's the part that will stick in his war-mongering craw the most:

"Mark Steyn, when it comes to pop-culture analogies, you, sir, are no Maureen Dowd!"


Blogger Carl Prine said...

As a reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a cornerstone of the so-called "right wing conspiracy," I humbly offer a defense of Dan Kennedy.

Not that I defend his assessment of Mark Steyn. I don't really give a damn about that. If anything, Steyn seems like a strawman for alternative weeklies, and I'm sure Kennedy won't be the only one east of Berkeley to take a tilt at Steyn (whoever he is).

Rather, I should like to defend Kennedy as a fair and accurate critic during a very divisive war.

You see, we carried on a most unlikely exchange of emails from the battlefield in Iraq (thanks to the wonders of technology and some insight from Mr. Kennedy).

I wrote a piece about how the MET-A team from the Pentagon told the Marines guarding the Tuwaitha nuclear weapons plant outside Baghdad that they thought they had discovered bomb-grade plutonium.

My story was highly qualified in the lede grafs by experts debunking the assertion, but also balancing that with the voices of the grunts on the ground and others long experienced with Iraqi attempts to evade international sanctions and inspections.

Unfortunately for me, Fox TV had picked up the story, and ran it without the usual qualifications about the "discovery."

Unlike most in the alterative press, Kennedy borrowed a line from Fox and proved to be fair and balanced, calling my report "a measured and responsible account of the situation."

For someone in the alternative press to admit that of an embedded reporter for Tribune-Review, I thought, was PC heresy.

He also defended the actions of Jules Crittenden, an embedded reporter for the Boston Herald, who found himself pointing out Iraqis for a machine gunner to kill (it should be noted that the Iraqis were trying most diligently to kill Mr. Crittenden first).

I've never communicated with Mr. Kennedy aside from those days outside Baghdad. But I found him to be smart, articulate and fair, when most of his Cambridge colleagues surely would have demanded him to act otherwise.

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