January 28, 2005

Nick Coleman. . . ARGH!

I won't rip, entirely, on Nick Coleman's latest bit of literary crapishness. Rather, I'll just excerpt certain portions while cross-checking it with this item.

So, in Coleman's column today, Nick sprays his readers with the following:

The Twin Cities bishops were touring the West Side in an attempt to convince state legislators (none showed up to join the tour) that balancing budget deficits on the backs of the poor is immoral.

Got that? balancing budget deficits on the backs of the poor. Nothing to back up the claim, mind you, save for the outraged voices of a few bishops. In Nick's tiny little mind, legislators get together, snag a couple of poor people off the street, and start balancing budgets on their backs just for the sport of it. It's like a game of Jenga, really. Why, the bishops say it's so, so it must be true!

Cross-check that with this little bit of gold from the Editor & Publisher piece:

"Readership and power of the blogs is increasing." He also claims that the blogs are dangerous because they are not under the same ethical restrictions as mainstream media and seek to stay on the attack, facts be damned.

Ethical restrictions, eh? Such as making unsubstantiated blanket statements that Minnesota legislators are balancing budgets on the backs of the poor, based entirely on the pontifications of a bunch of bishops. Facts be damned.

Let's grab some more unsubstantiated bilge from Coleman's ethically restricted pen:

But these days, with the poor being scapegoated and Social Security under attack by sharks who can smell money from a mile away

Yup. You can see the scapegoating of the poor all over the place here in Minnesota. Huge billboards proclaiming that the poor are actually the cause of the Asian tsunami, as well as halitosis. Yes, and social security is under attack by sharks. Money-smelling sharks, no less. Dontcha' just hate those genetically-modified money-smelling sharks? Didn't Dr. Evil want a couple of those to complement his collection of sharks with head-mounted lasers?

This is why Nick Coleman bothers me so much. He gets paid, probably fairly well, to write this kind of crap. And he doesn't do research or investigative journalism of any kind, save for a quick Google search, and to take, at face value, the word of a few bishops, and maybe the occasional person on the street (usually a poor person). It's just aggravating to me, because he writes for the biggest newspaper in Minnesota, and it's just lazy, self-righteous (to say nothing of poorly-written) nonsense that can probably be written in an hour or so. It's like he got his journalism degree (if he has one) out of a box of Lucky Charms.

And then. . . AND THEN, Coleman has the audacity to ascend a soap box and declare that bloggers are:

"rottweilers in sheep's clothing". . ."reliable partisan hacks." He claimed that the site (Power Line) and others like it "are dominated by the right and are only interested in being a megaphone without oversight, disclosure of conflicts of interest, or professional standards,"

Honestly, ready something, ANYTHING, written by Nick Coleman, and then read something, ANYTHING, written by the Power Line guys, and decide who comes across sounding more professional, and who comes across as a megaphone without oversight. It's like Coleman is incapable of acknowledging his own glaring hypocrisy.

Again, Nick probably wouldn't bother me so much, except that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is a pretty big newspaper, with a fairly wide circulation, with enough readers mentally numb enough to read a Coleman column and think "Damn those money-sniffing sharks and poor-hating legislators!"

If the Star-Tribune were a small-town newspaper, I wouldn't give Coleman much thought. Because, honestly, Coleman is writing for a newspaper that's far bigger than his skills (a term I use quite loosely) permit.

It's like Joshua said, in Mad-lib fashion:

Otherhow, I obviously disagree with the meat of what Coleman's saying. I think it actually springs from a problem that seems to be rampant among hometown columnists: they write formulaically about things that actually require original thinking. So you get one column after another that goes:

The other day I was walking down the street and I saw [something sort of everyday but a little bit weird] and it made me think of [something morally unambiguous; preferably something historical and morally unambiguous]. The lesson of [the morally unambiguous event] is [whatever] and it applies to [something topical] because [circuitous reasoning]. If only [the position I oppose] would acknowledge this morally unambiguous lesson, they would realize that they're, well, wrong.

Which can make for some pretty ridiculous prose.

The other day I was walking down the street and I saw an old homeless lady with a thick moustache begging for change and it made me think of Aaron Burr. Aaron Burr is, as I'm sure you know, the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Hamilton invented our banking system and might have gone on to do other important things if only Aaron Burr hadn't shot him. The lesson of Burr and Hamilton is that many people are cut down before their prime. Or during their prime. Or sometime shortly after their prime, when they still have things to offer. And it applies to welfare reform because this poor woman was clearly cut down before her prime by the deadly bullet of poverty. If only George W. Bush would acknowledge this morally unambiguous lesson, he would realize that he's, well, wrong.

All of which is why Nick Coleman bothers me, and it's disturbing, perhaps, that I spend so much time tearing him apart. But, this is my blog, my megaphone without oversight or professional standards, if you will, so I don't feel all that bad about it.

Posted by Ryan at January 28, 2005 11:29 AM

Excellent post, Ryan. I just have to take exception with one phrase:

It's like Coleman is incapable of acknowledging his own glaring hypocrisy.

Not incapable. He's just so far out there that to him, he's not a hypocrite in his own mind, because HE'S RIGHT, DAMMIT! He KNOWS STUFF and he has to work under OVERSIGHT, while FULL DISCLOSURE OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, and MEETING PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS (which of course, the bank VP typing away in his oak paneled office, while wasting the shareholder's money by partaking in non-work related activities, DOES NOT HAVE TO DO).

It isn't a matter of not being capable. It's all about being a member of the anointed elite and KNOWING he's better than the blogosphere.

He fits right smack dab into the MSM arm that Laura Ingraham talks about in her book, "Shut Up and Sing".

Shut up and write, Nickboy.

Posted by: FJBill at January 30, 2005 01:31 PM
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