THE END OF EN ERA?
[January 21st] --> I knew - I knew - that my Bill Ladson column would bring with it, what should I say, consequences? And consequences it has. A few bloggers have confided in me personally their sadness at what a few have written. And I really appreciate that.
I began to think about this in detail after hanging up with Bill. My guess was that that if given the opportunity, the same bloggers would come after me just after they went after bill, although none of them would ever claim that they were doing anything other than their journalistic duty.
So I took what I really believed, juiced it up a little bit, aligned myself with Bill (by the way, it's just as 'acceptable' to be pro-Bill Ladson as it is to be anti) and pushed the publish button. I went out of my way not to attribute any of Bill's concerns towards any specific blogs (though he told me which ones they were). I just didn't see how that would have helped the story in the long-term. I knew the story would draw a response, but not like the one it received.
What did I hope to see? Well, Banks Of The Anacostia and Nats 320 come to mind. Both wrote stories, disagreeing, and agreeing, with what Bill and I had said. It worked out well. Then, seeing the firestorm burning across the blog-o-sphere, Banks wrote another story today saying that perhaps there were reasons I didn't get it right. But he began with this: "The other topic I wanted to address was the minor blog storm that has erupted over Farid's and Ladson's comments about Nats bloggers in general in his interview yesterday. First off, let me state for the record that I think that Farid is one of the nicest bloggers out there. In every interaction I've had with the guy, even when we disagreed, he's been nothing but unceasingly cordial. That's a good thing. I think he genuinely dislikes controversy and aggressive opinionating, which is in plentiful supply among Nats bloggers. Again, nothing wrong with that. In the South, and we have a word for men like Farid. It's "gentlemen." Then he went on to hit me fairly and accurately. I guess this is how I had hoped our blog-0-sphere would react, a place where respect and kindness never left, never went away. Jamming could have torn my heart out and placed in on a pole, but he made it clear it wasn't personal. Thanks, buddy.
Amusingly, this wasn't even the first time that I ran into a problem with this story. The first came before I ever wrote it. 'Mr. Anonymous' and "Yuda" left some comments on my site suggesting that I had already told my readers that the Ladson column was finished on Friday. When I quoted one the specifics of my post, the other then suggested that perhaps didn't I really just go back and clean up the post?
The most - um - strong reply came from Distinguished Senators, the blog that rose from its own ashes. Now, to be frank, I'd never really read his work very much. From the very first time I visited, it was obvious that my view on covering the Nationals and his view of covering the Nationals were two very different things. No problem. Each of us have cultivated our own garden as it were. That said, after reading his story on Ladson, it became quite clear that I was the story now.
Here are a couple of excerpts from his (well written) story, and yes, if he feels comfortable cherry picking my prose, I'll return the favor:
- "What I haven't yet come to terms with, though, is Farid's sycophantic attitude, his willingness to take Ladson' preposterous claims at face value, and his genuinely insulting generalizations about "bloggers."
- "Examples please. And not just examples from your writings, Farid. You're calling out "bloggers" here. I'm a blogger, and I assume that I can write with impunity because I'm protected by the First Amendment. And since Farid understands the inner motivations of bloggers, perhaps he can show me the stuff I didn't believe myself when I wrote it."
- "Right. And my common sense is doing a fine job. I don't need yours."
- "The obvious response is that Farid isn't talking about any criticism, just the personal stuff. But given Ladson's ridiculously self-serving idea of what a personal attack is and Farid's sycophantic willingness to go along with it, it's clear what's meant. You agree with Bill Ladson, dammit, because he knows better than you."
On and on it went. Why, at one point he even got a little disagreeable about my penchant for hyphenations. His slice-and-dice attempt to get at the truth reminded me a lot of Saturday Night Live's Bass-o-matic '76 (for those of you with a few years of age on you). But even at that, no biggie. Sticks and stones, baby. Sticks and stones.
But I did make one very large mistake, which I guess I should apologize for. See, I got a call from my doctor to come back in and see him, on the day of the interview. Turns out my routine physical wasn't routine at all. When you're 50, you've gained wisdom but lost proper function in all parts of your body. So I wrote the rest of the story with a sense of finality throughout every word and paragraph. And it showed. It had a real "can't everybody just get along" quality, didn't it?
So, what does this mean? Well, you know how we've all laughed about not living long enough to see "the plan" come to take shape?........ Well .....
If I do stop blogging immediately, it certainly had nothing to do with what Distinguished Senators said. At least until he starts using smaller words so I don't have to keep using the dictionary. But if I do, it's because health, and life, force me down a path less "fun." As of a couple of weeks ago, TBB was #11 nationally on striketwo.net and the #1 Nats' blog, so it's been a good run regardless. Nats 320 and Banks will do a superb job replacing me if needed.
There is something that Bill told me that rings so true is all of this: it's fine to disagree with him, but email him first -- get to know him so you can understand why he wrote a particular story or feature. There just isn't much journalism required in typing.
A couple of years ago, I came up with a second site for the Nationals' minor league teams. I named it something that ended up sounding almost like Nationals Farm Authority (I can't remember exactly what it was any more) The Yudites went crazy. One morning, I must have received twenty comments and was stunned to find out they were malicious, viscious and attacked just about every family member but my dog and parakeet. By back-tracking the posts, I found myself at Yuda's, a place I never knew even existed. And there, line and after line, were people who had never talked to me, who didn't know why I had done what I did, doing a very good job of destroying my name. Oh, there were two guys there trying to defend me. Basil from Federal Baseball and Brian at NFA. They knew me. "I've talked to him a few times and he sounds like a nice guy" said Basil. Brian said that "I've talked to him before on other matters, and I can't believe this is someing he meant to do" (or thereabouts - like I said, it's been two years).
So what makes more sense, then? Copying and pasting a post from another site so, like a dead corpse, you can disect it and eviserate it to the point of it being nearly non-recognizable to the writer, or leaving a comment on that site and saying, "Hey, I've got some real concerns with your column -- okay if you email me so we can talk about it?"
This was exactly the point Bill tried to make. I don't care what you think, Bill told me. But contact me for my side before you start chewing on my rear end. One blog wasn't particularly happy at my attempt to separate bloggers from journalists. This is just why I did so. So many of our beloved blog sites are now going straight to the horse's mouth to get it right. It can be done. To not contact Bill, to not contact me, and then still launch such a pejorative attack? Forget ethics. It's about being fair.
For my friends, I'll return very shortly with an update as to where we're going with "all of this." It came out of the blue for me too.
Thank you for your good wishes,
Sorry to hear about your health problems, and I am sorry that people feel it necessary to flame you. I have always enjoyed your blog, it offered something the others didn't. It offered heart. More importantly, it lacked all the negativity that seems to pervade the rest of the Nats blog-o-sphere. This reminds me of the first few months after it was announced that we would get the Nats. I started looking at Nats message boards hoping to learn about everything Nats, only to find a bunch of negative idiots typing just to type. I told my Wife I would never go back to the message boards, and I haven't. Looks like the same is happening to the blogs. I will continue to check back here to read about your progress, other than that, I will get my Nats news at the games.
I too am sorry to hear about your health situation. I sincerely hope and pray (and I do really pray) that this is only temporary and that you enjoy excellent health again very soon. Although we have never met, I have read your blog for almost as long as it's been around, and I know that you are a very decent, honorable man. I can't explain why some others have chosen to take the low road, but I attribute it at least in part to the relative anonymity of the internet. Peope who write negative things don't feel the same sense of connection between their words and the other person's feelings as they would if they knew or at least came into contact with those about whom they write. I truly hope to continue reading your blog for many more years.
If you're expecting others to email you before reacting to a post that you display for all the public to read, then I think you're misunderstanding a fundamental element of what blogging is about. (I'd point out, too, that you have trackbacks enabled, allowing you and your readers to easily see who is talking about your posts) Blogging, for 99% of people, is not journalism, and most of us don't hold ourselves to the same standards -- standards that apply to reporting. Since none of us are doing original reporting (I suppose we could debate whether an interview is reporting, but that's another topic for another day), we definitely aren't held to those standards. What we're doing is analogous to a columnist. Some (typically the best ones) columnists do report. Others just bloviate. When you're expressing an opinion or reacting to what others have said (especially to those who make their opinions public such as you or I), there isn't the same level of standard.
When Ladson hears from a source that Schneider's hammies are acting up, then of course he has to hear from Schneider. When Boswell thinks that Jim Bowden's latest trade stinks on ice, he doesn't NEED to call Bowden for comment -- although Boz is good enough that I'm sure he does.
In this case, you wrote a post for all to see that had some pretty strong opinions in it. You can claim that you were being fair by not implicating any specific blogs, but, by extension, you were blaming ALL blogs. And for those of us who know the entire back story with Ladson, we know exactly who you were referring to with each of those (mostly baseless) allegations. Go ahead and get it out into the open then. Most of them are with me. Let's at least clear a cloud that you (with Ladson's assistance) unfairly helped to hang over everybody's heads.
If you were expecting silence in the matter, you don't understand blogging.
If you were expecting nothing but Amens from all involved, you don't understand blogging. (And it could be argued, human nature, as well, but you'll probably interpret that as a personal attack)
In a few days when your head is clear, go back and re-read Ryan's post. Other than the line about hyphens, it's a well-written piece that is NOT at all personal. He takes issue with many of your assertions, using your text to illuminate and to provide examples. That you disagree with his explanations is probably natural. But that you take them personal is just plain wrong. There's nothing in there attacking your reputation. There's nothing in there saying that you're an idiot or anything of the sort. (save for the hyphen example). It's a completely fair piece, even if it's harsh.
It seems that you take any mention of your name in connection with a disagreement as a personal attack. As you're fond of saying, we'll have to agree to disagree on that. You, on the other hand, take great pains to not directly mention anyone's specific arguments when making your own case. I assume that you feel that this prevents anything from becoming 'personal' (even though anyone who reads most of the Nats blogs knows specifically who you're addressing in 90& of the cases) It's a way of arguing that I personally don't like, but it's your blog.
And that's where the fundamental difference is. You view a mention of your name in connection with an argument as a personal attack. I and many others don't.
The example that sticks out in my mind is this post that I wrote last month. I use something that you wrote as a jumping off point for some related thoughts. From your comments to that post, you view that as a personal attack, indicating that you were being "stomped on". There is NOT ONE THING in that post that's personal, yet your comments seem as if I had insulted your mother.
Since it's something that involves you personally, I'm not sure that you'll entirely be able to see it the way I see it (or the way a neutral observer would see that), but I'm just throwing it out there.
I've gone on too long here, and if you're having health problems, I wish you luck.
--- From this point, I have written, and then erased, five different paragraphs. I've come to realize that - no matter what you say, and no matter what I say, we're just going to have to agree to disagree. And there is nothing wrong with that. Perhaps it's a generational thing. I hear my adult kids say things that shock me all the time.
I have re-read my story and yes, it could have been more concise regarding my opinions of the blog-o-sphere. But Chris, a lack of clarity isn't a crime. And I was trying to see if what Bill says happened to him could happen to me. And I got what I asked for.
No hard feelings, but on the other hand, I'm not going to try to understand anyone else's position either. Because I respect a position doesn't mean I have to empathize with it.
And the future of TBB is in no way connected with the past week. I just have to decide if I'm healthy enough to do it.
Thank you for your time, Chris. And please, what I wrote on your blog -- it was a joke!
I took the time to go back and take a look at that post you pointed me towards on your site. Here it is:
"Man! Over the past couple of days, I've been the lead story on several blogs, usually with a headline something like "Some of what he says makes sense, but man he's stupid!" (or a similar variant).
I guess I'd rather get stomped on rather than someone say, "Beltway Boys? Who are they?"
Seriously, thanks for reading; I'm just kidding about the disagreement part. If we all thought the same thing, there would only be one blog, right?"
With all due respect, how could that be taken as anything other than what I said it was?
So sorry to hear about your health problems. I hope that with the help of modern medicine and lots of prayer you'll be able to recover and be back to blogging full-time soon. If you're not back in the saddle by Opening Day, your doctor is going to have a lot of 'splaining to do to your many fans (myself included!).
Get well soon!
Now how about addressing the real issues I had with the interview? Why didn't you email me or Chris before criticizing us? Why didn't you attempt to figure if Ladson's complaint's had any factual basis? And please show me where you think I got personal.
I could say "you only need see all of the personal email I received about this to know this is personal" but then you'd likely ask to see the email, which I would never do because it's PERSONAL, and then you could say, see! He won't show us!
That's how the whole "why don't you name the sites that Ladson complained about" keep coming back to bite me. I didn't publish them because [in my opinion] it's no one's busisness which blogs he's talking about. To suggest that redacting that info is wrong is like saying that reporters shouldn't redact a source's name. That he said it is important. Who he said it about isn't.
As I mentioned to Chris, my guess is we come from a different generation, where what is "personal" to me differs from what is "personal" to you.
We could go on back and forth, on and on, and we'd only be older, and certainly not wiser. I don't have as many years left on this earth as you; I'm not going to waste even a moment doing that; I'd rather throw a baseball with my son.
I have no hard feelings. You said what you wanted. I would have been a blog supporting you had the others brought out their knives and pitchforks. Everyone has the right to say what they want. I just don't agree with you.
Even as a kid, I didn't like debate. The whole premise implied a 'winner' and a 'loser.' Even in my younger days, as a loud-mouth partisan at the local "party" event, I never enjoyed the "I'm right!" and "you're wrong!" bravado.
Think what you want. I'm content with what I wrote and why I wrote it.
Oh, and by the way, I had to look up the word "sycophantic." Never heard it before. I guess that in Idaho, we don't use words that describe those type of people. I suppose there are just too few here to worry about ...
But hey, you came here and left a post. You're a stand-up guy. Best Wishes.
One thing: If Ladson thought to tell you in the interview which blogs he was having a problem with - then I don't think it's up to you to censor those names for the sake of trying to downplay the personal nature of it. Rather than broadening the subject it just appears you are trying to protect Bill. (Of course if he asked later for the names to be redacted - that's well within his rights, even if I don't agree with it)
As I write this, I'm listening (ironically) to the Lehrer News Hour, and the discussion is about the responsibility of journalists in telling where they got their facts, in light of the stories about Obama's background.
But as I think abouut your story, I think I agree with El Gran. If he wants to speak in generalities, or take names out of the record, you should be free to say so, but if he's naming blogs, the bloggers want to know if their blog is on Ladson's list. I don't know if anyone would have been bothered if their blog's inclusion in a Ladson list had become common knowlege in the Natosphere, but in any event, the issue is between Ladson and blogger--you shouldn't have to run interference.
Of course, I equally think it was within the rights of these other bloggers to react as they see fit on their own blogs, though I think several have chosen to react a bit childishly in choosing to take general comments as a personal affront.
Enough with the personality clashes, already!
Thanks for everything
What a job! I noticed Bill said he has a boss who can ask him to write about something. I'd pay $5. to find out the name and resume of the boss of any of these Advanced Media secret writers subject to no one's approval. Anyhow, thanks again.
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