A sneer from political reporter David Halbfinger about Bob Somerby, the publisher of the media criticism site Daily Howler:

I've never followed this blog, and am pretty sure I don't know anyone who does.

You gotta love a New York Times reporter who concludes that if he doesn't know something, no one else does either.


Rogers, that seems a little bit overdone to me. The difference between "I don't know anyone who does" and "no one else does" seems fairly substantial to me. Unless Halbfinger made an earlier claim of all-knowledge that I missed, he's talking about whether he or his colleagues/friends/associates reads the Howler, while you're characterizing him as saying that no one at all reads it. I don't read the Daily Howler, and to be honest, I don't know for certain if I know anybody who does. Is that a sneer?


Perhaps, but I think it's funny that he has such a strong sense of what his colleagues don't know. Maybe it's not a sneer, but it's definitely catty.

Newspaper reporters, catty? I'm shocked, shocked. Good thing that's reserved only for newsrooms and never appears among, say, software developers. Besides, with the insular nature of most newsrooms, I'd be surprised if Halbfinger is wrong about his colleagues' habits. Reporters spend a lot of time figuring out what the rest of the room is doing.

I'm not a software developer, though I play one in books. I used to be a newspaper journalist, which is why I can't prevent myself from talking about ink-stained wretches.

I didn't mean you, Rogers. What I meant was that cattiness is not in short supply. I think one of the reasons that bloggers and journalists butt heads so often is that both often approach the other with a holier-than-thou perspective. Neither one is right and both should share the blame.

Derek, as much as I appreciate your argument, Rogers is always right. At least that's how I remember him. And whenever I see anything resembling the phrase "I don't know anyone who ..." in this context it seems like an emotional reaction to an imagined slight. More like an involuntary self-reassurance than a meaningful statement about the Howler.

I can understand journalists being defensive these days. No one likes successful competition springing up unexpectedly, especially when it's critical of them.


I welcome criticism of my work, but I don't believe I or any other person should be forced to respond to people who, as the CJR piece puts it, "mock" them rather than offer actual criticism. There is, among some prominent bloggers, a double-standard on this point - they issue sweeping indictments of the entire industry or other overly broad categories that are demonstrably false, and then raise the battle cry of integrity.

Sure, plenty of journalists are defensive these days - some with good reason - but plenty of journalism deserves to be defended as good work with integrity. The same applies to the successful competition you cite.

I thought the whole article was a bit snotty and dismissive (how's that for meta criticism criticism?). Sure, one can't ignore Bob's overheated prose style, repetitiveness or Gore Quixotism. But the core question is never asked, much less answered: What got under this guy's skin?

The article also does a terrible job of laying out Bob's underlying theorem about the national press and getting reporters' response. The examples that make him seem petty and pedantic, which he can be. But it's obvious he's not driven by whether Maureen Dowd made up a Kerry quote.

Finally, in my mind, another important question isn't asked: Why is some random guy on the Internet doing Howard Kurtz's job?

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