Jonathan Chait suffers from a Jekyll-and-Hyde problem that turns him, at least part of the time, into a journamalist. You see, the good Jonathan "Jekyll" Chait thinks that the liberal netroots are a necessary, healthy, and constructive part of American political ecology:
TNR Online | The Left's New Machine (1 of 4) (print): [Right-wing] partisan outlets did a brilliant job of injecting pro-Republican stories and ideas into the mainstream public discourse, using classic propaganda techniques... with little regard for truth or intellectual consistency.... All the pressure on the mainstream media came from the right.... [Time's] Swampland turned out to be a fascinating experiment about the effects of bringing mainstream journalists into close contact with the Internet left.... [Joe] Klein began with increasing frequency to concede the truth of the criticisms against him... his liberal opinions seemed to grow more frequent and less hedged.... Klein... had become accustomed to sustained ideological mau-mauing... from one side [only, the right], and... this imbalance had taken its toll. Now, suddenly, there are two such movements...
But the bad Jonathan "Hyde" Chait despises the liberal netroots:
TNR Online | The Left's New Machine (1 of 4) (print): [T]he netroots... attack liberals who, in their fervor to be seen as fair-minded, bend over backward so far that they do violence to truth. And they are quite right to do so. But the netroots critique is... that the conception of fairness itself is folly. Any sense of detachment from the partisan fray is impossible.... This ethos helps explain the enormous distrust between the netroots and the traditional liberal intelligentsia. (Or, as [Duncan] Black put it, the "incredible gap between those who see the debate as a kind of game and those who, you know, actually give a shit about stuff.") Part of it is the slight whiff of anti-intellectualism in some quarters of the netroots.... The prevailing sentiment here, however, is... a belief that political discourse ought to be judged solely by its real-world effects. The netroots consider the notion of pursuing truth for its own sake nonsensical. Their interest in ideas, and facts, is purely instrumental...
Let me say that it is an out-and-out lie for Jonathan "Hyde" Chait to claim that Markos Moulitsas Zuniga's or Duncan Black's or Jane Hamsher's interest in "ideas and facts" is "purely instrumental," that the "netroots consider the notion of pursuing truth for its own sake nonsensical."
For we all know that you learn a hell of a lot more about facts and ideas relevant to, say, the Scooter Libby case from Jane Hamsher and her peers at FireDogLake http://firedoglake.com than you can learn from Jonathan Chait and his peers at the New Republic. I can recommend that somebody interested in the Libby case read FireDogLake knowing that Jane Hamsher and her peers are giving it the straightest shot they can. I can't say that about the New Republic's opinions of Scooter Libby, can I?
We all know that you learn a hell of a lot more about facts and ideas relevant to economic and budget policy from reading Duncan Black at Atrios than you can learn from a New Republic that tells you that "Harvard University... one of the most left-wing institutions on the face of the earth... has endorsed George W. Bush's proposal for Social Security reform, and that the Clinton struggle to bring the deficit under control was a bland standby. I can recommend that someone interested in economic and budget policy read Atrios confident that Duncan Black is giving it the straightest shot he can. I can't say that about the New Republic's giving airtime to Greg Mankiw and Robert Samuelson, can I?
And we all know that you learn a great deal more ideas and facts about the Middle East from reading Markos Moulitsas Zuniga's Daily Kos than from reading the New Republic.
In fact, we all know that you learn more ideas and facts about the Middle East from a blank page than you do from reading the New Republic, don't you?