This week in blog fights

When you can be mean, catty and humiliating, why argue on the merits?

Published March 30, 2006 8:55PM (EST)

The Internet can be a vicious place. Shortly after leaving the paper-print world for Salon, I wrote a story that said something nice about Sen. John McCain's lobbying reform proposal. One reader quickly wrote a letter calling me a "shill" who peddles "loathsome," "contemptable tripe." "This poor excuse for a reporter is Salon's Washington Correspondent?" the reader asked, before telling me to quit.

I didn't quit my job, but the reader made a good point. Rhetorical, over-the-top character assassination and verbal warmongering are lots of fun online. With this in mind, I now present my favorite fights from the past week in the political blogosphere.

Who's elite now? The American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta and MyDD's Matt Stoller have a disagreement over the role government should play in regulating political speech online. But that's not all. In one post, Matt said Garance had an "Elitist Regulation Fetish." In response, Garance wrote that Matt was more elitist than she because he went to prep school in New Hampshire, while she got a GED in New Mexico. (They both apparently went to Harvard.) Then Scott Shields, another MyDD blogger, chimed in to say that Garance was acting "weird." Touché.

Vulgar and profane. Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt apparently compared Kos to Hustler publisher Larry Flynt (no link provided). Kos tactfully responded by calling Hewitt a "C-list radio blowhard." Snap.

The dirty-bathroom battle. The liberal watchdogs at Media Matters have had a hygiene problem in their boys bathroom. Early this year, the men (yes, they are men) at Wonkette posted an internal Jan. 3, 2006, Media Matters memo that complained about newspapers that had been "strewn" all over the bathroom. On Monday, Wonkette published yet another memo revealing a mysterious "clogged toilet" in the same bathroom. Then on Tuesday the good people at Media Matters tried to stop the memo leaking by authoring another scolding memo, which was promptly leaked to Wonkette. "TREAT BLOGGERS AS PRESS," the leaked memo thundered. As if this humiliation were not enough, DCist has just now posted a helpful guide to bathroom hygiene for Media Matters employees. Kapow.

And I thought I had it bad with McCain.

By Michael Scherer

Michael Scherer is Salon's Washington correspondent. Read his other articles here.

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