None of this is meant to suggest that I think the British media a wholly admirable beast. It may too often sacrifice rigour for colour or facts for wit. It's played a part - collectively at least - in the coarsening of British life and it's frequently absurd, foolish or downright hysterical. But it does have life and perhaps it has the merits of reflecting us as we are rather than as we might like to consider ourselves.
The same may perhaps be said of the netroots and the blogosphere.
Alex defends the vulgarity of some blogs, the extremism of their passions and dislikes, and the free-wheeling, post-and-be-damned element of blogospheric discourse. He sees it as the US equivalent of Fleet Street:
Atrios (Duncan Black) for instance, is a tabloid columnist manque. He has exactly the right combination of spite, sneering and bullying for the job. It's ferociously partisan and bracingly, gratuitously unfair, mean-spirited, sexist, wearisome, entertaining, etc etc. That's why his blog is gripping. In other words: it works. If you were to put a British tabloid in Washington, Atrios would be right at home on its op-ed pages (and his presence would add greatly to the gaiety of the nation). His "Wanker of the Day" feature is a stylistic flourish that would be right at home on the pages of Britain's best-selling newspapers. It's also easy to imagine the Firedoglake collective on the pages of a British mid-market tabloid.
The obvious parallel is Drudge, the most British of all American bloggers. This blog's evolution was definitely inspired in part by Fleet Street, Private Eye, the Spectator, Kinsley's TNR and the general comfort of many British hacks in laying it on thick. I try and keep things civil, and I also try and air viewpoints that don't quite match my own. If I make a hideous error, I make sure to make amends. But I do not apologize for having some fun, and the occasional eye-brow-raising hyperbole. We're waaay too deferent in the Washington press corps. (Arianna gets this too, because she's a closet-Brit.) But I also think that, in some ways, the US media has one up on London. We have our "serious papers" and our "serious columnists" and then we have the bloggers. You know where you are. Vive la difference. Now where was I on She Who Must Be The Front-Runner?
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