Thursday, January 18, 2007

Who's Your Mama? - Blogger Ethics & Local Politics (Or - Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss)

Tony has built one of the largest audiences in the local blog world, mostly through intemperate and dead-on humor. His is one of those sites that has me thinking "I can't believe I laughed at that," after I spew coffee in response to some bit of outrageously funny misogyny or racism. But those of us who have been reading him for a long time appreciate his brand of humor, and, if you don't like it, you're reading the wrong page.

Lately, though, he's been focusing his contempt upon a particular person - Beth Gottstein. Beth's running for City Council (4th District, at large), and she's an acquaintance I've always liked. But Tony has been trashing her as aggressively as possible - falsely implying she's an alcoholic, hinting that she's slutty, and lying about how long she has lived in Kansas City. The hit parade is compiled at the Pitch this week, and it reveals a sustained effort at character assassination intimidating in its freedom from restraint.

(It's funny - if you go back to the first of these diatribes, I show up in the comments, naively asking why people were bashing Beth Gottstein. Nobody had a substantive answer.)

Eventually, somebody called and filled me in. Tony was trying to tear Beth down because his mom is going to get into the race. I emailed Tony to ask whether the accusation was true, but he never responded. (About the same time, he stopped linking to my posts on his blog, but I have no idea whether that is retribution for knowing the truth, or simply not finding anything I've written link-worthy. Either is plausible.)

So. What we have here is the biggest presence on the local blog scene, using the power of his podium as aggressively and nastily as he possibly can, to undermine a candidate who opposes someone to whom he has an undisclosed relationship. Wow. How far "citizen journalism" has come - we've managed to become even more corrupt than the corporate media.

Now, don't get me wrong. Tony and I have the right to post whatever we want on our pages, within the almost non-existent bounds of the law. Heck, I called Bush "lizardlike" in the previous post, and called a long list of local school districts "red necks" in the post before that. The blog world is not a well-mannered tea party.

But, as this episode demonstrates, bloggers are also not above secret conflicts of interest. Don't mistake bluntness for candor. Don't mistake humor for honesty. And, most certainly, don't mistake blogs for news.

20 Comments:

Anonymous travelingal said...

Well I don't know Tony...just saw his blog for the first time today and I'm not impressed. Just curious, what are the legal ramifications, if any, of slandering or defaming someone's character via a blog? I know it's done all the time, and I know there are few laws that exist in that regard (and maybe that's the way it should be), but if anyone knows, I'd like to hear what the situation is.

1/18/2007 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The blog world is not a well-mannered tea party."

You got that right! It's definitely a double-edged sword. Anonymity tends to embolden people to say things they normally wouldn't.

I'm definitely relieved that I have not become the target of a local blogger, although there is one "threatening" to put me on his hit list.

Politics can be nasty. Blogging can be nasty. Perhaps they were made for each other.

1/18/2007 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless you.

1/18/2007 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating post.

1/18/2007 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Dissident said...

Hey Dan, take on an issue like why a black attorney gets indicted when over a dozen other attorneys loaned money to a judge; a judge who according to the lawyers weekly admitted that she showed partiality because of the loans.

Whats the deal?

1/18/2007 5:09 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Dissident -

From everything I've seen, he's the only one who was stupid enough to lie to the investigators. If you know something different, I'd be interested in hearing it.

1/18/2007 9:42 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Wow, a humor blog is corrupt. Do you yell at chestnuts for being lazy as well?

1/19/2007 12:40 AM  
Anonymous Bailey said...

Oh, so if you admitted that you took money from a judge who gave you preferential treatment, then its OK?

Funny, when Joe Blow on the street is just asked about a crime, admitting it doesn't get him off the hook.

Dissident has a point.

You know good and well there is a cover up.

Whats your interest?

1/19/2007 4:35 AM  
Anonymous Bailey said...

Sorry, that would be "loaned money to a judge".

This weeks lawyers weekly says that she admitted she gave preferential treatment.

Now THATS corruption!

1/19/2007 4:36 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Good points, Bailey. I haven't seen the Lawyers Weekly article on it. The Missoouri Lawyers Weekly website doesn't appear to have it.

For clarification, they didn't take money from the judge - they lent it TO the judge. I doubt that lending money to a judge is illegal, though it may fall within a broader bribery statute. Did the article address that issue.

Regardless, I assure you my mother wasn't involved . . .

1/19/2007 5:56 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Oops = sorry I missed your correction before correcting you.

1/19/2007 6:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony's comments aside, Beth is the worst kind of candidate - one who knows nothing and yet has the capacity to create the illusion of knowledge because she can buy it. Look at her performance at the Citizens Association, she has an incredible written response to questions that were obviously done by others and then during the Q&A, can't answer a single question.

1/19/2007 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous are you Tony... or Tony's mom?

Am I Beth, or Beth's mom?

Sadly, I am woefully ignorant of what is happening in this post or the side story that seems to be happening in the comments.

1/19/2007 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny. Tony complains when he's not taken seriously, but when he finally is, he says he's just "a humor blog."

1/19/2007 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Brooksider said...

I read Tony's blog for a while but stopped months ago. Self indulgent content free rants masquerading as humor grow old quickly. It doesn't matter if it is blogs, radio DJs, columnists or stand up comedians.

In politics whenever someone spends more time ripping apart an opponent rather than promoting the skills of who they are for it speaks volumes. I think most voters are aware of this tired tactic, especially voters in the 4th District, and it is more likely to backfire than help.

1/19/2007 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony's blog is, like his "sense of humor," puerile, self-indulgent, borderline moronic, usually filled with outright lies. In fact, one of the few times he actually told the truth in one of his ranting postings was when he made a reference to his 3-inch penis.

1/19/2007 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if this is the same Anonymous, but if so I now hope you aren't Tony's mom. That would make things weird.

1/19/2007 3:17 PM  
Anonymous JW said...

Maybe it says something about me, but I like Tony and his blog. Evidence like the success of Stewart and Colbert suggests that an entire nation of young cynics dig it too.
Don't worry, we still think for ourselves.

1/20/2007 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

buy xanax without a prescription
Buy Meridia Without a Prescription
xenical prescription online
order oxycontin
ordering cialis from canada

5/15/2008 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

buy xanax
buy oxycontin
buy cialis
buy ativan
buy soma
no prescription xanax
cheap generic cialis
valium no prescription

5/18/2008 10:38 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home