Would Washington or the press be giving ACORN a second look if Breitbart, O'Keefe, and Giles' prank hadn't revealed the, um, unknown dimension of the organization? I doubt it. And that brings me back to my original observation: One of the great strengths of American journalism is that it will accept contributions from everybody from amateurs to entertainers (I'm looking at you, Jon Stewart) to gadflies to billionaires to activists to students to genocidal tyrants. The system is so delightfully open that even pornographers can spill worthwhile journalistic ink. That Breitbart comes swinging a political ax should bother nobody, unless the journalism published in Mother Jones, The Nation, the Huffington Post, Salon, the New Republic, the American Prospect, Reason, the Weekly Standard, or the National Review gives them similar fits. Viewing the world through an ideological lens can sometimes help a journalist to discover a story.
Breitbart proved this week that his site can make news without having anybody play dress-up when he posted the full transcript and audio of an August National Endowment for the Arts conference call. In it, NEA honchos urge artists to push President Obama's political agenda. That's news by anybody's measure, including the New York Times'. Give the man two cheers. If he keeps up the good work, toss him a third.
What is the origin of "three cheers," anyway. What do you have to do to earn a fourth? Or a fifth? Google the answer (or Bing it!) and send your answer to email@example.com. I wear hot pants and heels when I Twitter. Stop and visit, but don't cry foul if I videotape you. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)