One More Time

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

If Newbusters is going to be give The Dish a hard time for openly using underbloggers, they'd better also go after most every op-ed columnist at this country's major papers. For example, the Times illustrious Nick Kristof almost always uses an assistant or two for help with research, editing, and idea formulation. I've only ever seen this acknowledged on his blog; he has perhaps mentioned it in a column, but it is neither acknowledged regularly within or permanently along-side his columns, which is a notable difference in comparison to Andrew, Chris, and you. I say this not to pick on Kristof, but merely to point out a high-profile and Pulitzer Prize-winning example. Andrew is far and away more open about the assistance he receives than are most, if not all, opinion leaders.

Althouse twists my word:

You know, I have had my run-ins with Sullivan. He mocked my engagement announcement. He's given me Sarah-Palin-related assignments. I have paid a lot of attention to these things on my blog. (Here and here, for example.) I seriously believed I was interacting with Sullivan, a writer I have respected for maybe 20 years. I wouldn't have bothered with Patrick (or Chris). I really don't care what they think. If they insult me, they are to me like any number of bloggers who insult me and whose bait I don't take. I would always take Sullivan's bait, because Sullivan is important. Not to know whether it's Sullivan or one of them makes a mush out of the whole blog. I'm not wading through all of this ghost-generated verbiage and guessing about what might be the real thing.

That was all Andrew. As I've said from the start, all substantive posts that take positions are written by him. If you don't understand that by now you are seriously misreading what I have written or acting in bad faith. Althouse later takes issue with the "basically" when I wrote that " basically everything I write under Andrew's name is a naked link or excerpt." I wrote "basically" because there have been occasions, like the announcement of last year's awards contest or the introduction of guest bloggers, where Andrew has asked me to draft a post with relevant information for him to edit. This reader explains things better than me:

All due respect, but you're making the "Life As Part Of Sully's Brain" debate way too complicated. Engaging this and over-explaining it simply gives the impression that you have something to explain or hide. Stop it, already, because it's painful to read. The reality is simple:

1. Posts that engage in opinion (or even sly comments such as the daily wraps), where the credibility of the poster is of valid interest, are designated in some manner to the appropriate party, whether through initials or "signatures" beneath the headline. All other posts default credit to Andrew, as it's his name on the masthead. 2. Posts that provide merely fact-based information or links to news or entertainment where the credibility of the poster is of no consequence, could be from anyone in your hive who felt it was worth noting.

Or, for those who lack attention span:

Opinion Posts = Attribution

Facts / Informative links = No attribution

Even elementary school children should be able to understand that facts do not require attribution for third parties merely passing the information along. The only people who could possibly feel betrayed by this common process are people who've never undertaken a collaborative writing project in a responsible, professional environment and do not understand the demands of journalistic-level fact-finding and screening. Feeling "betrayed" because ethical people work together seamlessly to contribute to the major works of a high profile individual is like feeling betrayed over the idea that the guy who baked your donuts didn't also harvest and process his own flour.

Further, you have had attribution for "Dish Prep" staff on the blog for some time now, and Andrew has made frequent mention of how much help he gets to make the blog possible. Stop engaging these people. You've all been reasonable and provided more than appropriate transparency -- this "debate" only exists for people looking for something to be upset over.

Anyone that believes Andrew (or anyone who works as a colleague of his) would allow his voice to be usurped or allow someone else to take the fall for his point of view is either not regular reader of the dish or needs a nap and a cookie. Andrew has many faults, and I'm sure any number of us could name the things we like and dislike about his views and the Dish itself, but no one can accuse Andrew of not standing by (and being held accountable for) his own opinions, or taking credit for things not his own. He (and the Dish) have taken way too many hits for having the courage of convictions of all flavors.

I could have let this drop awhile ago or not began the conversation in the first place, but I enjoy describing our process and we owe it to the readership to explain the mechanics of the Dish. Andrew's blogging adversaries will use anything and everything against him, a fact proven once again by this tempest in a teapot. A final reader:

I know you've voiced differing opinions on this issue, but I need to offer my support. The criticism of the Daily Dish's blog structure is, to me, insane. So you post a number of blurbs from other bloggers and links to various items each day. How in any way is this "ghostblogging?" It's aggregating, if anything. Anyone who reads a post like this, or this, or this, and sees it as a somehow dishonest account of Andrew's opinion needs to learn to read properly. Even if Andrew had written those posts (I presume you did), there's virtually no opinion whatsoever within them -- only the words of the people and articles you're referencing. This is what it looks like when Andrew is offering his own opinion.

Perhaps someone like Markay sees the choice of news content as opinion in and of itself. This would be valid if the blog only linked to articles supporting Andrew's key opinions. But it doesn't. The beauty of the Daily Dish is in the open airing of dissent, the consideration of all opinions and facts along his and our journey to our own opinions. We see this in the "dissent of the day" section, in the various letters from readers. Consider "The View From Your Sick Bed," or the reader responses to George Tiller's murder and the issue of late term abortion. None of those expressed Andrew's opinion - they were merely the airing of opinions he was willing to consider. How is it dishonest for you to have authored and posted them, under his supervision?

A number of the posts this reader attributes to me were written by Andrew, but they look much like my posts. Here is a representative sample of the posts I was referring to in my initial post: The Left Goes To War, Citing The Gospels, Fake Cuts, The View From Uganda, Against The Clash, and Chart Of The Day.