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Aimai on Her Grandfather, I.F. Stone

She writes, stream-of-consciousness first draft:

If I Ran the Zoo: One Hundred Years Of I.F. Stone: Yesterday we had a blast honoring my grandfather, I.F. Stone... marvelous speakers, among the best of whom was Jack Beatty, Chris Lydon, and Tony Lewis. Among the most controversial, apparently, was your own Aimai.... I believe firmly that she who blogs first, laughs last so I woke up this morning at four a.m. to get my account into print first....

Jack Beatty's talk.... Look, he said, (more or less and forgive me, Jack, for any misquotes) Izzy was increasingly both blind and deaf. And he was always and eternally himself. He never let the audiences expectations govern his behavior. He spoke at a dinner celebrating Walter Lippman... launched into a tirade against him, leaving my poor grandmother, who could actually see the faces in the celebrity audience, to face the brunt of the audience's rage and horror as Izzy ceremonially stomped Lippman's legend into the dust. Picture Izzy doing the same thing at a film about the wonders of communism when, as an imagined "man of the left" the audience turns to him for approbation and gets a fifty minute disquisition on the horrors of communism and the glories of the red, white and blue. My favorite of Jack's stories... Thanksgiving Dinner with Morton Kondracke and Kondracke's family of young children... asked, ceremoniously, to speak on the wonders of g-d and when they came 'round to Izzy he said forthrightly (and oh, how Jewishly) something on the order of "G-d? that *&^%$ criminal? If there is a g-d he's responsible for more war, pestilence, and murder of children than any single human in history. He's got a lot to answer for. I'd rather believe in no g-d than have to impeach the bastard with his crimes."...

I seem to have gotten up and from the point of the older journalists there, barked like a puppy or, perhaps more accurately, peed on the carpet. I said what I, and my brother, and probably the entire bloggosphere have long thought. If he'd lived long enough Izzy would certainly have been a blogger. That is because the best of his work, which he famously did alone and without help, wasn't really facilitated in any way by large newspaper bureaus and increasingly, in the modern world, would not require the auspices and the power of a newspaper's backing... the historical depth, the ability to link, the ability to write as much as you want without increasing cost, and the targeted, partisan nature of blog readership would have made a blog the natural heir to The Weekly.

Frankly, I thought what I had to say was uncontroversial but I had forgotten how much vested interest and angst the self described journalists in the room place on the war between bloggers and journalists. I also hadn't realized, or remembered, what it was like to be parachuted into a room filled with altecockers with turf to defend. I won't name any names but various elder statesmen tried to put me in my place with windy pronouncements on the inability of blogs and bloggers to take the place of journalists. This left my withers unwrung because, of course, I don't think blogs are replacing journalists--they seem to be doing a nice job of making themselves extinct--but that blogs are competing with newspapers and are, in their own way, a more hospitable place for honest journalistic endeavours....

But we were talking past each other, as that basic mismatch between what I'd said and what they'd heard demonstrates. They don't really read blogs..... Basically they think blogs and bloggers are "all about opinion and we have too much opinion" so you say "well, what about Josh Marshall at Talking Points and his *&^% Polk? Oh yes, of course *he's good, they say--in fact his award inclines them to think him so much a journalist.... Or, what about Bilmon? (Chris Lydon, bless his heart, brought up Bilmon) but the others had never heard of him and what's with the weird name? Or Glenn Greenwald, or Juan Cole? But, they said to me triumphantly, they have "day jobs!"? So, what, they can't be considered journalists?...

Well, anyway, we'll be sorry when we've killed off the newspapers with our cruel inattention. What? How did I kill the Globe? It was destroyed by the new owner's insistence on packing the pages with week old reprints of news from the Washington Post, the AP and the Times. Well, sure, says unnamed altecocker, they made some bad business decisions but that wasn't the Globe's fault, "they" sold the Globe. (I realized then that we were thrashing around in an emotional swamp since apparently there was a Platonic ideal of the "Globe" under discussion. I'd have thought that we were only going to talk about real world entities like the Globe (no air quotes) and its actual owners and their actual decisions but I would have been wrong.)

We got onto what seemed to be of chief concern among the older journalists which was how some of them proposed to save Newspapers by figuring out this darned web advertising thing and learning to charge for content.... [T]hey were all fresh off congratulating themselves for awarding the IF Stone Award to McClatchy for its coverage of the Iraq War, coverage that famously didn't cost the newspaper company any more than the expensive and hideously bad coverage of the Times (aka Judy "I was proved fucking right" Miller). Nevertheless, they kept offering up these bizarre blogger focussed attacks on blogs and the internet for the downfall of newspapers....

I brought up Nate Silver... startled that they actually knew somebody's name but unaware that Nate might be classed as a blogger--he has a product to sell, his expertise, but....but...he must be some kind of exceptional case. Because they had never thought of him before, and knew him primarily from his TV appearances, they didn't grasp the way Nate's blog and the special election coverage and polling that he had done busted wide open the barriers they thought existed between journalism and blogging. But hey, lets not let facts get in the way of a good group grope on the subject.

I haven't been around that much testosterone poisoning since graduate school.... Someone who shall remain nameless was doing the beltway freak out that the vagina dentata known as Hillary Clinton had been offered the SOS job--although they admitted that she hadn't been offered it but it was bad of Obama to make it look like she had been.... They agreed that so far Obama had been more sure footed than not on all matters having to do with the election and managing the transition but he had really, really, really made a huge and unreversible mistake this time with the Hillary Clinton Offer That He Hadn't Made...

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