We got a response from the Washington Post regarding our criticism of their labeling the entire liberal blogosphere "the liberal base" of the Democratic party. It was posted on the Post's blog yesterday.
The Post's response was, basically, that we are the liberal base of the party because they say we are. Let me share their logic, then analyze:
I couldn't help but notice a great deal of huffing and puffing at AmericaBlog over the lead sentence of the Post's A1 news story on Feingold's resolution: "For months the Democrats have resisted calls from their liberal base to more aggressively challenge President Bush." John in DC charges that "liberal base" was just taken out of thin air, and that in fact not just liberal Democrats but all Democrats and many independents "have had it with Bush."Okay, Post's opening paragraph is fine. Now on to the second paragraph:
Okay, let's review. I think it's fair to say that the one thing just about everyone (except Congressional Democrats) agrees on is that the Democrats haven't aggressively challenged much of anything in years ... other than the innocuous ports deal, and that was an easy target.Again, the second paragraph is fine. Yes, we all can agree, liberals, conservatives and independents that the Dems have not aggressively challenged much of anything. An obvious point, but one I agree with.
Now for the next paragraph:
Even devotees of AmericaBlog -- which itself has often called for the Democrats to get more aggressive -- would agree that it is true that the liberal base, of which the AmericaBloggers are a part, has indeed been frustrated at the Democrats' inefficacy. Even granting that others have also called for more action against Bush from the Democrats, it is nonetheless accurate to say that the liberal base has been doing so for months (at least).Well that didn't take long.
The Post "proves" that the left-wing blogosphere is the "liberal base of the Democratic party" by simply recycling the accusation as fact. The writer simply repeats the charge that "AmericaBloggers are a part" of the liberal base of the party, and we're to accept that as proof.
The Post writer also seems to imply a number of other proofs, including:
1. If you are upset that the Democrats do not more aggressively challenge the Republicans, then that makes you a member of the liberal base of the Democratic party.
Funny, but I'd have thought that simply makes you a Democrat, an independent, or 60-some percent of the American people who are upset with the direction the country is headed. How does that define the liberal base of the Democratic party? Is the Post saying that other Democrats are not upset that their party isn't fighting back against Republicans? That's crazy.
2. The Post argues that the liberal base of the Democratic party has been frustrated at the party's inaction.
Yeah, so? How does that prove that blogs are a part of the liberal base? Because we're frustrated too? So if the liberal base is frustrated, and AMERICAblog is frustrated, then that makes AMERICAblog part of the liberal base?
If that's the Post's logic, then the paper needs a little lesson in 8th grade math, the one where you learn about sets and subsets. According to the Post, I am an American and I am of Greek descent, my neighbor is also an American so he MUST be of Greek descent (even though he's really Italian). It doesn't work that way in logic-land. Just because I share a trait with another group does not necessarily make me a member of that group.
Yes, the liberal base is angry at Bush and the party. But you'd have to be living under a rock to think that those are traits unique to the liberal wing of the Democratic party. Most Americans in recent polls are angry, disapprove, whatever of Bush, and most Americans likely think the Democratic party isn't very aggressive. So, according to the Post, that proves that most of America is a member of the liberal base of the Democratic party? According to the Washington Post's logic, yes.
3. Then we get the next line of logical attack from the Post.
And why is AmericaBlog so offended anyway? After all, those on the political left often insist that "liberal is not a dirty word..."A few points.
First, here at AMERICAblog, we like facts and disdain just making shit up. Call that our own personal bias, if you will. So, yes, we are not big fans of the Washington Post just labeling our politics as representative of the far-left of the Democratic party, when in fact that is simply not true.
Second, to respond to the second part of the quote above, it isn't relevant whether I think the misnomer you're using to describe me is a positive misnomer or not - the fact remains that you are describing me as something I am not. For example, I like Italians, a lot. But don't call me Italian, because I'm Greek. And it has nothing to do with my not embracing my inner Italian - I'm Greek. No matter how much I love Italians, nor how many times you continue to label me an Italian, nothing is going to change the fact that I am not.
Another logical fallacy of the Post is how they jump from the use of the word "liberal" to the phrase "liberal base of the Democratic party."
Did you notice how she lumped the two ideas together? I thought liberals liked the word liberal, she says - so what's the problem, why don't you like to be called "the liberal base"? The problem is that the word liberal is synonymous with Democrat and progressive, it is not synonymous with "liberal base of the Democratic party," which only applies to one wing of liberalism. I am a liberal, in many ways (and in some ways I am not - for example, I am not per se anti-war), but just because I may be a liberal, that does not make me part of the liberal base of the Democratic party.
You see, and I know this is kind of the hard part to understand for the Washington Post, but in English, the same word can have various nuanced meanings when used in different ways.
I know, kind of shocking isn't it. Who could have imagined that entire fields of expertise are devoted to using words correctly to communicate with the masses?
So to reiterate: "Liberal" means left, progressive, Democrat; "liberal base" means one specific wing of the overall group of lefties, progressives or Democrats (to use the math example, "liberal base" is a subset of "liberal"). They're not the same thing.
4. The Post then concludes by reiterating the same charge with no proof, like they've somehow already proven that we're the liberal base:
The Post story's lead simply recognizes the liberal base for what it is -- a force that has been demanding its leaders stand up to the president, and finally someone's listening. Shouldn't they be proud?I believe Atrios recently referred to this back and forth with the mainstream media as something akin to trying to educate children. The level of logic you need to sink to is so low and so basic that in any circle of society that includes people beyond the age of, say, 8, you'd be looked down on for even condescending to explain such things.
I have no idea who this Washington Post blogger is, but her logic is indicative of the larger problem with the traditional media today. They don't believe in facts, and haven't been schooled in logic. They simply don't know how to think.
Ad you don't need to be a liberal to figure that out.