As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Memo to Calbuzz: Hey, right back atcha!

To: (insert fun and in no way dated Communist Party reference here) Comrades Phil Trounstine and Roberts
From: Dave

I read with interest your dripping-with-contempt response to my criticism of your reports on the Parsky Commission. Actually, 4/5 of the article concerned the Commission itself and not you, but I am reminded of the words of Carly Simon:

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you

As a regular reader of Calbuzz, I admire your sources, if not your willingness to string an entire article together based on two politicians standing next to one another smiling, as well as an over-emphasis on horse-race politics and narratives. But clearly, you have a bit of an inflated view of your clear-eyed mission of “journalism,” and the assumed objectivity that goes with it.

Allow me to be blunt: Calitics has been writing about the Parsky Commission since December of 2008, before there was such a thing as Calbuzz. We have followed up time and again, in particular when two weeks ago, Susan Kennedy tipped the hand of how this commission will go by stating that “Our revenue stream is way too progressive.” So it was not exactly some kind of amazing scoop to report on a commission that has open meetings and presents all their material in public, which is why plenty of contemporaneous reports were written, based on the documents posted on the Internet that the Parsky Commission presented in anticipation of their open meeting.

Unlike you, I don’t pretend to hide my opinions on the very clear economic and tax policy implications of the Commission’s report behind some false veil of objectivity. Most of my comments were directed at the report itself, and the way in which a flat tax would quite obviously shift the burden of taxation to the middle class and the poor; but I couldn’t help but notice clear language like...

the impending bankruptcy of state government should be sufficient to show players at every point of the political spectrum not only that sweeping change is needed, but also that everyone will have to compromise to keep California from sinking into the 9th Circle of Hell

...which certainly allows people, in my view, a window into how you determine the best policy, defined as the midpoint between whatever pleases those hateful hippies and the ranters on the right. That may be a nice and quick methodology, but it's anything but rigorous, and I'm pretty sure it's an apt description. After all, wasn’t one of you the communications director for Gray Davis, who was not above bold expressions of centrism and a fear of the spectre of “The Left”?

(How did pumping out that daily message for ol’ Gray turn out, by the way? What did that guy do after his two successful terms were up? Just curious.)

I mean, I’m very sorry for bringing up the inconvenient fact that so-called “objective” journalists can frame a story in such a way that they put their own thumbs on the ideological scale. You claim that your job is to “ferret out the facts” of the policymakers, you know, like hard-hitting reporting on an email to supporters and what one Republican said about another Republican in a press release, but it’s fairly clear from the above-mentioned article that you view flat taxes and eliminating corporate taxes as pretty sensible and down the middle, and it colored your coverage. I should probably just have shut up about it and gone back to my Communist Party self-criticism sessions, which by the way is a hilarious and timely joke. Here’s another one: In Soviet Russia, television watches you! You can use that!)

So this notion that I should just say thank you for illuminating a public document seems to be to be a bit too self-regarding, and your lashing out at me for pointing out the not-so-hidden biases in that particular article a bit to “the lady doth protest too much.” But of course, I have an infantile disorder.

Which brings us to this criticism about the Barbara Boxer press conference and certain bloggers clapping at the end of it, something of a hobby horse for you folks. I am not going to speak for anyone in the room but myself, but I know quite for certain that I didn’t clap, and I know what I asked. See, based on my notes (yes, I took them, just like a real live reporter) I know that I followed up a series of queries about torture (yours was some process question about how the Obama Administration "rolled out" the torture memos released a week before) with a specific question about a resolution before the state party seeking the impeachment of Jay Bybee for his role in authorizing torture, to which she answered “I’m very open to that,” reminding those assembled that she voted against Bybee’s confirmation as a federal judge. Now, at the time, I was involved in securing thousands of signatures from across the state endorsing this resolution, and when it came before the resolutions committee, I would argue that having Sen. Boxer’s agreement that calling for the impeachment of someone who helped authorize torture was a reasonable request actually helped get that resolution passed. In other words, it was a combination of what the netroots community does best – using citizen journalism and activism in tandem to effect progress on progressive issues.

Which I personally think is more of a relevant bit of work than asking a federal legislator about a state issue.

I’m just sayin’.

p.s. In the cited post, I used variations on the word “fetish” once, in a 1,400-word article. But it made for a smashing joke about therapists, so points for you!

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