Bob Somerby has offered many contributions to a leftist critique. He's also helped popularize sexism among the left. He didn't invent it but the heart of his critique is a sexist critique. He has a post today which can't be panned for gold. The sexism buries him and any observations he might make.
In a perfect world, there would be no sexists and sexism would be hugely frowned upon -- the way racism is. But, like homophobia, sexism is frequently passed off as "cute" or signs of "a real man." What it is is a pathology and as it grips the person, it overcomes them and turns them into babbling idiots. Look at a certain group of church members who protest the funerals of the fallen with homophobic slogans. To them, what they're doing makes complete sense.
Bob's sexism was always present. We've noted it here many times. The way The Daily Howler has always worked is that a male journalist makes a mistake and a female journalist is evil, a man makes a mistake and can be redeemed but a woman is pure evil. So he may batter E.J. Dionne around lightly, but a Ceci Connolly or Katharein Seelye are savaged.
The sexism is so pervasive that Somberby doesn't even grasp how little he understands about journalism. The last sentence in the paragraph above goes to that lack of understanding as does his attack today on Karen DeYoung. We'll get to it.
When this site started, Media Whores Online had gone down only a short while before. MWO wasn't really concerned with gender. And its immense popularity surely made an impact. But with it gone, we were left with Bob Somerby as a pattern and a ton of men and women online desperate to ape his lead.
Here, we did our part to combat it. We called out Elisabeth Bumiller's White House Letters -- as most people did. A friend with the paper (New York Times) called me out on that saying those were columns and I was treating them as reports. Good note. We tried to treat them as columns after that. But we didn't just call out Elisabeth Bumiller.
Todd S. Purdum was called out. And we did in the same way that they were calling out women. Todd Purdum's a good reporter. Like most people in any occupation he's going to screw up from time to time. Todd does not smell, that was part of our critique. Repeating, I do know Todd and he doesn't stink. The point of that critique -- which went on for about a year-and-a-half -- was to point out that women were being slammed online while men were just being said to have misreported. Women were said to be on their knees, to need knee pads, to this and that and be sexualized repeatedly.
Men really not.
When they were, it was in the role of passive gay sexual partner. Which goes to homophobia when you couple that with the portrayal of women already popularized throughout the web.
Same-sex coupling -- male or female -- can have an active and a passive role that stays with one partner or that flows from one to the other. In addition, it can have no such role. However, most sex in our society -- male-male, female-female or male-female -- or involving more than two people at one time -- does play with power roles because of socialization and the aggressive nature promoted in society, history and other places. Isn't that socialization? It goes beyond socialization and beyond the focus here. Power is prized and power is seen as a means to advancement. It is far from the only 'gate' to advancing -- individually or collectively -- however we are misinformed as a global people about that repeatedly. Slamming passive sexuality -- shaming it -- and portraying it as the province of straight women -- or really all women since they don't acknowledge lesbian couples -- and passive gay man -- the standard cultural stereotype -- shows the strong relation between sexism and homophobia and goes to why men on the left can reject racism but see no problem with holding on to their sexism and homophobia.
They can see -- lefts of all races -- power in an African-American males road to today because it feeds into the power glorification but they tie gender (female only) and gay males (stereotype of a weak and effete male) into "softness" and "weakness." And because of the way we're socialized and beyond, that's okay with them. In part because so many lefties do feel powerless themselves and they loathe that about themselves so they attack in others.
You can see the powerless identity in many of the left commentaries from the Cult of St. Barack from 2009 through this year. They never acted as winners, they never saw it from that view. Instead, they behaved like sore losers and forever searched for the person, device or concept that was stealing their power.
Bob Somerby didn't invent sexism ("Bash The Bitch" was popular long before Somerby ever got online) but he benefitted from it and he popularized it.
His inability to grasp sexism is most apparent in his defense of Lawrence Summers. For many, that was the reveal. Bob Somerby writing that Summers wasn't a sexist. What others -- many -- saw as sexism in Summers 2005 remarks, Somerby rushed to assure wasn't. As a man, he seemed to think, he was the best voice on the topic. It never entered his mind that he could be wrong about sexism or even guilty of it.
His sexism is also apparent in his obsession with Naomi Wolf. Did Naomi pick out ties for Al Gore? No. And anyone wanting to combat sexism knows that was a hiccup from the McGovern campaign of 1972. But Somerby never has a clue. (In 1972, Newsweek printed the lie that George McGovern's presidential campaign was using feminist Gloria Steinem as an advisor to help pick out socks.) When Bob finds some 'good' woman to stick by, he goes full out sexist. The woman is put on a pedestal and is noble and wonderful and capable of no wrong or error. That's why, in college, he and his friend were obsessed with Joan Baez -- clutching to her madly -- and scared of the likes of Grace Slick and Janis Joplin. Joan was the Madonna. (Offstage, she was screwing any and every male and female she could but her image at that time was of the madonna as she herself notes in "Diamonds and Rust." She and Janis shared more than one lover, FYI.) Grace Slick and Janis Joplin were far more complicated. Janis especially with the presenation of look-at-me-I'm-a-poor-put-upon-weak-girl with a vocal that refuted on stage image. She was a study in complexities. Grace Slick, of course, never met a construct or stereotype she wouldn't f**k with, stretch, break, implode. Grace and Janis were complex women for public consumption. Baez was much more safe and a throw back. And the 'ideal' for too many left men -- a woman who would fight men's battles but credit men (Ira before Joan found David) and act subservient for public consupmtion. She was "the wife" in every construct of the term. The "old lady" in the terms of that time.
Naomi Wolf became "the wife" and "the old lady" at The Daily Howler and we're supposed to be thrilled to have her as a woman Somerby doesn't hit with his verbal fists. But there's nothing there to praise.
I don't care for Naomi anymore and would spit on her if she tried to approach me tomorrow. She has spent too many of the last years selling out women. But when I say there's nothing to praise, I'm not referring to Naomi the person, I'm referring to the fictional Naomi that one-dimensionally exists at The Daily Howler.
That Naomi is the ultimate victim. To prove how victimized she was, you should be noticing, Bob always finds a man to speak for her. Naomi has rejected the earth tones and ties nonsense herself, in her own words. But she wouldn't be "the old lady" if she used her time to speak out for her own needs or herself.
Naomi was wrongly savaged by the press in Bob's construct. No. That's not reality. Naomi was not brought on to pick out fashion choices. But that doens't mean she was a serious scholar the way Bob presents. He frequently goes out on a limb about Promescuities. That book made Wolf a joke and, by extension, the Gore campaign.
There is no defense for that book. Only Bob Somerby (and men like him) could read Naomi writing about college, the gang rape of a woman at a fraternity while Naomi was present, and how, the next morning, the woman's bloody shoe was turned into a prop and a point of laughter and Naomi didn't do a thing (speak out at the breakfast table) because she didn't want to be called a lesbian. Beyond that, Naomi never called the police. A crime took place, she covered for the rapists. She continued to party with them, she continued to socialize with them.
She's a nut case. But to Bob Somerby, she's a male-defined woman and that's all that matters. What's more assuring to the pack of pigs than a woman who will see you commit a crime and stay silent?
Karen DeYoung is a reporter for the Washington Post. Somerby suddenly discovers her today. In his continued pursuit of "Poor Susan Rice" (which recalls his lack of honesty when he went after Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson).
DeYoung makes what appears to be only her second appearance in Bob's world in twelve years and she's immediately awful and evil.
"DeYoung's report is awful," "DeYoung works hard to keep you from knowing," "This is a horrible news report," she was a "sock puppet" to Colin Powell, she may be angling to write John McCain's biography, her work "is misleading and confusing," she "slimes" and she's produced "a terribly fake news report" -- all that and more.
Wow, Howler readers should be thinking, if DeYoung is so awful why have we not heard of her repeatedly over the last weeks or even the last years.
This is more hatred and nonsense and, yes, ignorance on the part of Bob Somerby.
Above, it's noted: "So he may batter E.J. Dionne around lightly, but a Ceci Connolly or Katharein Seelye are savaged."
Do you see the problem with that treatment?
Bob has an opinion. He has many though you'd think it was only one -- "My friend Al Gore was mistreated!" -- to read most of The Daily Howler. You can agree with it or not. That's the thing about opinions. You can have a more complex take as well. (I think Gore was mistreated by the press and I think he encouraged them to further mistreat him by becoming a punching bag when he should have hit back. Don't make lies about you a joke -- which Al Gore himself did. If they're lies, you either ignore them or you confront them. When you make remarks in public jesting about the press distorting you, you've just waived them through.)
But if Bob's opinions weren't represented in the press, then E.J. is the most evil.
Seelye and Connolly were reporters. So is Karen DeYoung. They're supposed to be impartial and balanced. Bob's fuming over what many will see as Karen DeYoung's attempt to be balanced in a report. E.J. and other columnists aren't reporters. They are paid to express opinions.
If 2000 didn't go well for Bob Somerby and Al Gore, Bob needs to hold reporters accountable but the greater problem was the pundits. They can offer opinion. They don't have to pretend to be balanced.
Bob Somerby has a simplistic and uniformed view of journalism. Which is why his work is best as a primer (provided the inherent sexism in his writings is acknowledged).
Bob Somerby wets his briefs and whines because of Karen DeYoung's reporting.
He's offended that more than one view is presented.
He never grasps that that's also know as reporting.
He never grasps that he, Bob Somerby, does not know what David Petraeus told Congress.
Petraeus did not testify in public. Only members of Congress and their staff heard his testimony. That's what a closed door hearing is.
Karen DeYoung is a reporter. She can work her sources, she can look for new ones and she can piece together what may have been said from that. But she wasn't there. And she can't just present one view. (Especially when, I'm guessing, she's heard more than one version of events. I've heard three different versions of what Petraeus said at just one party in DC.) DeYoung is not a psychic. She's also not a columnist. Ideally, she traffics in facts but the only known fact is that Petraeus has appeared before Congress. Her report is an attempt to bring together various claims put foward about what Petraeus told Congress.
Is Bob Somerby confused by this reality?
Maybe he'd grasp it if the byline had been Kevin DeYoung and not Karen.
That's not a minor critique nor is it coming out of no where. Sexism has always been at the heart of The Daily Howler and Bob Somerby has refused to address it.
That's evident in his attack on Karen DeYoung to begin with. Back before our sole focus was Iraq, one entry a week (the third one, what's now the Iraq snapshot) featured nothing but women writers. Journalists and reporters. With Iraq as a focus, we don't have that option. We have to use sources I wouldn't otherwise. And maybe that makes the snapshot more rounded since, for example, a Libeterain or a conservative might get quoted. But if I tried now to do a snapshot with just women? I couldn't. There would be Jane Araf and then I'd have to go archives -- meaning, I'd have to be saying, "In 2006, ___ reported . . ." The Iraq coverage -- in US media and European -- is pretty much gone. There's AP and Reuters and that's really it. And the only woman with any kind of regular beat is Jane Arraf of Al Jazeera (which isn't European or US).
But before Iraq was our sole focus and before the left also walked away from Iraq, I could pull together a snapshot that would be women. Even today, when friends call asking for links from their outlets, they know if they can say, "____ reports it" and "____" is a woman, it's an automatic in, they don't have to call in a favor. They know that I believe firmly women are underrepresented in bylines and that the work women are producing is frequently ignored.
So point here is that what Karen DeYoung is reporting on? You can be sure that many mean are also on that story. You can also be sure that many men have stolen her work and passed it off as their own. So the point is, there are probably 24 bylines on the topic DeYoung's written about -- 24 from various outlets. There may be another woman covering the story. But there's not more than three total. So at least 21 of those other bylines -- the bulk of the bylines -- are men. And yet Bob Somerby zooms in on a woman.
If you're not getting it, Monday do a little exercise. Pick out a big news topic. And real news, not entertainment. Then search that topic and note the bylines. You will see very few women.
(For those late to the party, I'm a feminist, not a glorifist. By that I mean, I will criticize a woman. But I will not fixate on women and give men a pass. Generally speaking, a woman has to really piss me off with bad reporting to be called out and when she makes it into a snapshot I've usually made a point to ignore her at least three times prior. That's not because I think one gender is wonderful or better but because I do know Bash The Bitch is a popular game and I do realize that a woman will be slammed many times quicker and many times more than a man ever will be.)
But if you really can't grasp that Bob Somerby openly engages in the War Against Women, note him try to walk back an offensive phrase today. "Barefoot and confused." Throughout the week, the 'wit' wanted us to know the press was leaving us "barefoot and pregnant." Now he's realized how offensive he was. He can't apologize. Nor can he let go of the (sexist) laugh the phrase produces. So he goes to "barefoot and confused." That he would think the phrase was acceptable to begin with goes a long way towards explaining his sexism. (The phrase is a sexist one with a long, long history. A man cannot 'reclaim' it or use it 'ironically.' What Bob Somerby did was try to frighten the people by telling them they were now the equivalent of women. The shudder, the horror, was what would prompt the giggles as Somerby damn well knew.)
It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)
The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.
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i hate the war