Mea Culpa to Patterico and Allahpundit

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 3 2010 4:43 PM

Mea Culpa to Patterico and Allahpundit

A bit of quick pre-Labor Day housekeeping that will interest literally dozens of people: I'm adding to and explaining something I wrote on Wednesday. I reacted to the Discovery Channel madman with a bit of eye-rolling which identified "polarization" as one stage of reaction to crazed madmen.

The people whose ideology most matches the perp cry loudly that he iscrazy and has nothing to do with them. The people whose ideology isantithetical to the perp's -- in this case, conservative skeptics ofenvironmentalism -- subtly hint that the perp is too representative of the other team. Oh, sure, they're not saying that. But every time someone goes crazy on the other side, they get blamed , so it's only fair .

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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"So it's only fair" takes you to Allahpundit's breaking news post about the situation. It's one of those posts that got updated as the situation went on. When I read it I focused on this part:

I’m not going to blame the actions of a nut on all lefties andenvironmentalists. I will, however, be sure to remind them of this thenext time they pull that on the right. Which they do, merrily, at everyconceivable opportunity.

The "so it's only fair" reference referred to those last two sentences, which struck me as a very strong nudge -- blaming the left without blaming the left. I didn't click on it again and didn't read the post later, but Allah updated it a few times to make it clear that he really, really wasn't making that nudge.

Don’t politicize the incident by hanging the actions of alunatic around their neck. What I meant up top about reminding them ofthis the next time they politicize something done by a right-wing nutwas merely how this proves that there are crazies of all stripes andthat I didn’t try to score a cheap political point against them todaywhen the opportunity presented itself. Is this really that complicated?

This was all Wednesday. On Thursday blogger Patterico put up a post accusing me of an "appallingly uncharitable reading" of Allahpundit and demanding "some kind of apology and clarification." He tweeted to get my attention, and I blew him off as an attention-seeker who was distorting what I wrote by implying that I considered Allahpundit one of the blame-the-left types. I thought it was clear I considered him part of a much smaller team -- the I'm-not-going-to-blame-the-left-but-they-sure-blame-us types. Even then, though, there's a pretty big difference between those teams.

The thing of it is that since I started appearing in more places to talk about my work, I've attracted a large number of critics. Some of them act in good faith and make smart critiques that improve my work. Some of them are, frankly, trolls. After I started to attract a steady stream of personal attacks I decided to institute a policy of 1) reiterating what I said and then 2) ignoring the critic. I originally misidentified Patterico as a troll, because the tone of the post made it sound like an assumed-guilty indictment and his demand for clarification came very late at night. It just didn't strike me as a good faith criticism at first.

But the truth was that Patterico was trying to prevent a misleading reference from living on the Internet forever and portraying Allahpundit as saying something he didn't say. I totally get that. I apologize to both of them. I always prefer e-mails about this stuff to blog posts and tweets, but forget it, Jake. It's the Internet.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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