Dave Weigel published a passive-aggressive article on Slate called The Age of Trolling. The article discussed the DNC stories broken by bloggers (including me) which ended up dominating the Democratic Convention news cycle during first few days of the Charlotte get together.
I don’t use troll in the pejorative sense. Actually, I may be trying to craft a neutral meaning of troll where none previously existed. The term, in its modern Internet usage, refers to people who want to start fights online to bring the universe into an argument on their terms. It comes not from Grimm literature, but from a fishing technique in which multiple lines are baited and dragged to haul in the maximum amount of cold-bloods.
Democrats did not expect to spend Wednesday arguing about the capital of Israel and the appearance of the word “God” in their platform. There were, reportedly, 15,000 members of the media in Charlotte, of whom maybe 14,980 could have given a damn about the party platform. On Tuesday night, when the Obama campaign and the DNC released its platform, none of the bigfoot media outlets in town spent time on the text.
No, it took until Wednesday morning for Jeff Dunetz, at the YidWithALid blog, to comment that “Democrats have removed this pro-Israel section from their platform.” (They had removed references to Hamas and references to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.) At 11:26 a.m., Weekly Standard reporter Daniel Halper published a story on the platform, making the same point. (He credited YidWithALid.)
It could have ended there. But within a few hours, CNN and Fox News were browbeating Democrats to ask why they’d changed the platform—why, too, had they removed an old reference to “God-given talents,” and thus deleted YHWH from the text? Democrats gave up. They forced a vote on new platform language, restoring the 2008 lines. Convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa affirmed the change even though nobody—seriously, nobody—thought that the sleepy midday convention hall had given it a two-thirds “aye” vote.
While the Slate writer might consider the troll a neutral term, most of his readers see trolls as people who post nasty or off-topic messages with the primary intent normal on-topic discussion.
With the troll term and his shortened timeline Weigel made it seem the hard work and research done by myself and other bloggers was somehow less worthy than the 15,000 members of the media who attended the convention. He also assumes the story went from the Internet to the mainstream media by some divine intervention.
A tip on the Republican Jewish Coalition twitter feed sparked the idea to read and compare the two platforms and write two versions of the article on Tuesday morning (not Wednesday as Mr. Weigel contends). The platform story was published first on Breitbart and with some differences, published ten minutes later on The Lid (Dave got the name of this site wrong also, three years ago this site was called Yid With Lid, but was never called Yid With A Lid).
More than simply exposing the 2008/20012-platform differences article explained the importance of the four pro-Israel provisions left out of the 2012. Knowing that Israel is a contentious issue for Obama in this reelection campaign–Weigel and the other “non-troll” professionals should have had the curiosity to make the same comparison made here
Publishing the story on two sites was the first step. During the next two hours the story was emailed, tweeted, Facebooked, etc. to every major news organization, major blogs, and other political websites. It was even sent to a friend who works on the Glenn Beck show. Many of the sites picked up the story making the story go viral, sites such as Gateway Pundit, Weasel Zippers, Hot Air , Atlas Shrugs as well as the Weekly Standard. Even Drudge picked up the story (they linked to the Washington Beacon version published three hours after mine). Each one of those sites are better well known than Mr. Weigel’s . Does that make them trolls also? What about the mainstream media outlets which picked up the story, are they trolls also?
When I broke other stories, such as the video that got Helen Thomas fired, or the Chas Freeman hiring/firing, or the tax return which exposed George Soros’ role in J-Street all of which where picked up by other bloggers, web sites, and main stream media –were we all trolls then?
Does it make any difference if the story was launched by someone like me, trying to earn a job in the media or someone like Dave Weigel who gets paid for his work. Does that give him to arrogantly looks down upon those who are balancing reporting and a “paying job” with the hopes of grabbing on to a paid reporting gig.
It is a bit ironic that a person like Dave Weigel who was part of JournoList, a group of liberal writers who in 2008 colluded to skew the news in Barack Obama’s favor, would “put down” the hard work of reporters willing to do the legwork needed to report the truth to the American people.
Based on the errors in his story about my post, Mr. Weigel is not even willing to do the legwork necessary to get the facts in his story about my post correct. When looked at objectively Mr. Weigel’s work fits the classic definition of a troll much better than what is found on this site.
UPDATE: My friend Jazz Shaw also covered this topic on Hot Air, I recommend you click here and read his piece and get the perspective of a neutral party.