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February 04, 2004
Super 'Bole

Until this week, I always thought the Super Bowl was about gambling, drinking, and assaulting strangers instead of your wife.

The nation's conservative pundits have set me straight, though: the game is actually a seminal family event. Strengthening the bonds between parent and child with all its expertly choreographed spectacle, it's like a less gay, totally not-European version of The Nutcracker. And apparently this past Sunday the fruited plains of the Beltway and beyond were fairly bursting with Rockwellesque tableaus of multi-generational TV-watching:

"But on Sunday night, grandparents, parents and children were huddled around the set for the Big Game, an obvious time slot for "family hour" programming."
-- Brent Bozell

"There we were, my precious 11-year-old daughter and I, curled up on the couch, anxiously awaiting the Super Bowl halftime extravaganza."
-- Rebecca Hagelin

"The Super Bowl [is] the one night of the year that parents and children watch television together."
-- Suzanne Fields

Then, half time came. Or as concerned daughter-cuddler Rebecca Hagelin put it, "Janet Jackson, et al declared war on America's families..."

In the aftermath of the terrible spectacle, a badly shaken Gary Aldrich wondered what Americans have left to believe in, if not the Super Bowl half time show: "Was it absolutely necessary to let the kids at the MTV boardroom design a program for one of our country's most hallowed traditions, and in front of a worldwide audience?"

Jonah Goldberg was so shell-shocked by the incident that he suffered a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder that left him completely unable to generate timely pop-culture references. "Think of the more outrageous art controversies of the recent past," he stammered, trying to think of something, anything, that fit that bill, while stumbling around the smoking rubble of his brain. Alas, the searing blast of Jackson's breast had left only the sturdiest, decade-old cliches intact: "Karen Finley covers herself in faux feces to say something 'shocking' about capitalism or something. Robert Mapplethorpe did 'new' and 'exciting' (translation: proctological) things with inanimate objects."

Discerning a disturbing trend in which an event about some things (football, commercials, family bonding) isn't also about something else (honoring the troops), Matt Towney let loose with a wild, Tyson-like flurry of perfectly aimed jabs, each one more punishing than the one that preceded it: "Don't these Hollywood idiots realize that real live men and women in our military have gone through hell this past year? Have they no concept of how these servicemen and women cling to radios and televisions in these far-off centers of fear and violence, hoping for one small gesture of hope and respect directed toward them? Couldn't the halftime show have found a minute or two to salute them?"

I've noticed this same treasonous indifference while watching Average Joe and Designer's Challenge, but I fear it will only get worse before it gets better...

Meanwhile, frequent NY Post and National Review contributor Nicole Gelinas shook things up with a daring end-around, essentially arguing that the half time show lacked sufficient master-race child-porn overtones: "Britney is mainstream sexy because she is young. She is cute. She is blonde. She has big blue eyes and a pleasing hip-to-waist ratio. She's accessible, not scary, to teens. Madonna, Demi, and Janet are all over the hill. Let's be realistic: If all you're selling is sex, you'd better at least understand that your product has a shelf life"

Ultimately, though, my favorite comments came from Michael Novak, who managed to step back, put things in perspective, and realize that most Americans, even the youngest ones, will somehow survive the Super Bowl broadcast and go on with their lives: "If the moral morons the NFL hires to produce these shows set out to dramatize the last days of the Roman empire in all its legendary sickness, what would they do differently? Who are these seemingly drugged, indifferent, writhing pagan figures they now throw around the platform? These are not living human beings in action, these are sacks of flesh, writhing, grinding, pawing, acting out no higher appeal than bodily functions. They evoke no virtues of the human spirit. It is as if they wish to suffocate any spark of Jewish or Christian womanhood and manhood. It is as if they mean to corrupt, seduce, degrade. A more radically anti-Jewish and anti-Christian assault, embodying the sort of Wagnerian images of pagan disgust and decay that enraptured Hitlerian audiences, would be hard for them to produce."

UPDATE: Does the Hitler/pagan connection exist anywhere else besides Michael Novak's writhing, grinding, pawing imagination? Arthur Silber investigates.

Posted by Greg Beato at 11:05 PM
Follow the Money

Is Glenn Reynolds the highest-paid not-a-journalist in the history of modern media?

Actually, I'm guessing that one-time New Yorker guest editor Roseanne Barr holds that title. But thanks to Reynolds' decision to (finally) accept advertising on his site, his special brand of not-journalism is earning him anywhere from $640 - $960 this week, just from his ads alone. ($640 if all his sponsors bought by the month, $960 if all of them bought by the week, somewhere in between if there's a mix. Also, these figures reflect the 20% commission that takes for serving the ads.) Throw in donations, what he earns from MSNBC and Tech Central Station, and who knows how much he's making?

Of course, he's not the only political blogger raking it in like a camgirl these days. If I did the math right (always an iffy proposition), is making $869 - $1232 a week, is making $500 - $900 a week, and Atrios is making $560 - $680 a week.

This is great news for blogging, of course, and for web-based independent content creation in general.

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:36 PM
February 03, 2004
The Man Nobody Knows

Keep an eye on Editorial Fellow Chris Farah, who just might have what it takes to be a real crack journalist.

In researching a piece on anonybloggers, Farah contacted me, first by email, then by phone, in reference to the pseudonymous blogger TMFTML, whose site I host on my domain In our exchanges, Farah was consistently friendly or neutral, showing no sign at all that he was planning to write a largely negative piece - and that's exactly how you are supposed to do it!

At the same time, Farah does make a couple of mistakes along the way.

For example, he never addresses the distinction between anonymity and pseudonymity. The piece covers Atrios and Media Whores Online in addition to TMFTML, and Farah takes them all to task for "using the safety and security of their secret identities to spread gossip, make accusations and levy the most vicious of insults with impunity."

But the identities they use to publish on the web aren't secret, of course - they're public and persistent. TMFML and Atrios have both been posting under their pseudonyms, at fixed sites, for a couple years now, and I think MWO has been around for even longer. So it's not as if they're spectral chameleons, popping up in one venue using Identity A, and in another using Identity X. You may not know their personal identities, but you know their public personas, and to my mind, that makes them much more accountable than someone who publishes in truly anonymous fashion.

They're also not retaliation-proof as Farah suggests: anyone who wants to is free to return fire in kind, spreading gossip about them, making accusations about them, and insulting them too. (By the way, can you believe that ungrateful bastard TMFTML has me at around #187 on his blogroll even though I host his fucking site?) Similarly, when Donald Luskin threatened to sue Atrios a while back, Atrios didn't ignore Luskin's threats because Luskin didn't know his identity. Instead, he dealt with them, and they worked out some kind of resolution.

Farah also treats an obviously satirical post of Atrios' as if Atrios intended it to be read as a serious accusation, and he pretty much does the same thing to TMFTML. (In the latter case, Farah acknowledges that TMFTML's post is a "spoof," but his implication is that this spoof is somehow unethical because it employs hyperbole.)

For Farah's sake, I hope he's just a really serious guy and thus simply didn't get the jokes. Intentionally wrenching humor from its context and treating it as straightforward declaration could potentially result in job offers from Brent Bozell , and I wouldn't wish that fate on anyone...

Meanwhile, for all of Farah's finger-wagging about the dubious ethics of anonymity, how does he reward me, a guy who's always willing to go on the record, a guy who has been publishing on the web under his own name, semi-relentlessly, for nine years now? By not even giving me a fucking link, that's how!

Finally, for anyone wondering about my connection to TMFTML: sometime in 2002, I started reading his blog after he linked to Sometime after that, when he was having a problem with or, I told him I'd be happy to host his site on my account, which I had rented for a year but then ended up not really using. So he took me up on the offer.

At that point, we exchanged a few emails, but because I failed to anticipate that his identity would one day become a burning question in the box suites of the NYC media world, I didn't press him for biographical details. That changed when he started getting micro-famous, of course, but I think he realized I would stab his back through his throat for the right offer, so he told me nothing.

UPDATE: Salon has made a correction to Farah's piece, removing the part where he treats Atrios' obviously satirical post as if it were a serious accusation.

UPDATE 2: Tapped has more on the distinction between anonymity and pseudonymity. Also, gets it just about right, I think: I'm the Ben Franklin of the Internet Era...

Posted by Greg Beato at 10:34 PM
February 01, 2004
Traffic Report

It looks like is coming pretty close to equalling 's daily traffic. Here's Kos's daily visits over the last 30 days, and here's's. had more total visits for the month, but attracted 120,000 or more visits per day 4 times, while only did it twice.

Is it time to crown a new king of the blogosphere? Developing...

Meanwhile, doesn't use, but the stats at suggest it gets even more traffic than

Finally, is smaller than suspected, lagging far behind the leaders at around 45,000 to 65,000 visits a day.

Addendum: A quick search of "" at yields 137 returns for the last 12 months. A search of "" yields 12 returns. Once again, the liberal media shows its vast, evil power.

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:57 PM
Times Two

Does Andrew Sullivan ever criticize Washington Times editor-in-chief Wes Pruden? I ask because he was such a frequent critic of former New York Times editor Howell Raines and former BBC Director General Greg Dyke.

Sullivan, I'm assuming, disliked Raines and Dyke not simply because of whatever political views they held, but because they let their personal politica views undermine the objectivity (or at least the honesty) their news organizations supposedly aspire to.

If that's an accurate assessment, then Sullivan should be just as concerned with conservative journalists who let their bias get the best of them.

Not that I'm objecting to conservatism, of course, or even to conservative pundits and journalists who put forth their opinions in exaggerated style for comic or rhetorical effect. That's what all pundits and even many journalists do.

But as Nick Confessore at TAPPED points out, Prudenizing is another matter entirely. Indeed, his recent GOPosuction of an old John Kerry quote is theoretically the kind of thing that should send Sullivan into Code Orange dithyramb mode. And, yet, not even a squeak from the Yanque Manque...

Also, for the record, here's how the Washington Times describes itself on its website: "The Washington Times is a full-service, general interest daily newspaper in the nation's capital. Founded in 1982, The Washington Times is one of the most-often-quoted newspapers in the U.S. It has gained a reputation for hard-hitting investigative reporting and thorough coverage of politics and policy. Published by News World Communications, Inc., The Washington Times is 'America's Newspaper.'"

So arguing that the Times openly admits its conservative bias, or that Pruden openly admits his dishonest-hack bias doesn't really work here, because there's no mention of either here...

Posted by Greg Beato at 08:30 PM