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March 21, 2005


ted knight

If simply writing made someone a journalist, then every 11 year old girl would be a journalist. Real journalism will eventually take up the blog format and will hopefully revive from the pit that is broadcast journalism. "Bloggers" will then once again be relegated to posting photos of their housepets.

Dan Gillmor

Some bloggers are journalists. Some aren't. What does that have to do with this topic?

Joe Buck

When Ms. Brown apologizes for the remark, the apology should be accepted. But unless and until she does, giving her hell is entirely appropriate.

The people screaming the most about bloggers invading their private affairs appear to be journalists (Dan excepted), because it used to be that journalists dished out criticism but did not get much.

ted knight

When she wrote, "Bloggers are the new Stasi", Tina Brown was inadvertantly referring to the tendency of bloggers to believe that they have a journalistic duty.


I think it goes beyond the tendency of blogegrs who believe they have a journalist duty. Because really everyone, blogger, journalist, 11 year old school girl, Joe Average, has a duty to stand up and shout when they say an injustice, or have an opinion to express. All that's changed is the guy on the soapbox in speaker's corner can now be heard far and wide. This society and government should be participatory, not a spectator sport. We should give credit to those who are willing to stand up and say... "This is wrong and let me tell you why" or "You won't believe what stupid thing Mr. X said... just thought you should know" Perhaps if people were held accountable for what they say and do, they might act more civil towards each other.


No, we don't need to cut her some slack. An expression like that is unacceptable; I realize that most (U.S.-)Americans probably know next to nothing about the Stasi, the Gestapo and similar (thankfully defunct) institutions, but that kind of faux pas is just entirely unprofessional. It wouldn't be such a problem if it's something said in a private conversation, for example (although I still would consider it something warranting an excuse), but when a supposedly *professional* journalist puts it in a *published article*, it shows that that person does not have a grasp on the basic concepts of either journalism or common sense.

ted knight

Peter, or should I say, "Cheech",

"Perhaps if people were held accountable for what they say and do, they might act more civil towards each other."

This is why people become journalists. This is journalistic duty. You've proven me right.

Andrew Kantor

A girl I knew in elementary school once rubbed her nose the wrong way when another girl was watching.

"Marlene picks her nose!" shouted this other girl. "Marlene picks her nose!"

The girl was subject for the next four years to the kind of stigma that only grade-school kids can dish out. All because of a minor gaff at the wrong time.

Only on scripted TV do people not make mistakes. We slip up; we say stupid things or we simply word something poorly.

Tina Brown's point is a good one. The idea that a foolish mistake or simple mis-statement will haunt you forever as bloggers and other journalists refuse to let it go -- well, it *does* take something away from our discourse.

We end up only listening to canned speeches, prepared statements, and well-rehearsed and -vetted lines.

Joe Grossberg

I think Tina Brown intentionally made an outrageous remark, so she could point to the inevitable criticism and then say, "See, I told you so."


Like most Nazi references, this Stasi reference was completely unimaginative. No matter how apt the comparison may be (and in this case, it's debatable), any mention to Nazis or Hitler or whoever else in that vein gets immediatly attacked and dismissed. I can appreciate Ms. Brown wants to get a reaction from her readers, but is this really serving the public discourse?
This reminds me of Ward Churchill's comments reflecting the "little Eichmanns" in the World Trade Center. Mr. Churchill is a very intelligent man, and part of his job is to say and write things that make people think. I did some reading on Eichmann, and took this blurb in context of his speech, and formed my own opinion on the validity of his comments.
I will certainly not question Ms. Brown's and Mr. Churchill's right to say this- and I will never demand that they be silenced for such comments, but I do question their acumen as commentators. They should know better.


Alright, Timothy, i'll bite; how is the Stasi line "unacceptable"? Please show all your work.


Mike: note that the Stasi was the East German secret police. It is not a Nazi reference.



I've fallen victim to my own bear trap. Thanks for setting me straight. However, my argument does not change- when one invokes this type of comparison, be it Nazis, the SS, the Stasi, the KGB, or the Viet Cong, I fear most people's brains turn off. I don't think it encourages further thought or analysis. It just stirs the pot.


She's done it...written a column so opaque and filled with veiled hints of things...that it is incomprehensible. Why anyone cares what Tina Brown says or things is beyond me.


I'll echo the above comments. Tina Brown is a caricature of journialistic hubris, so far removed from any reality that her comments are totally irrelevant to the public discourse. I'm sure her remarks matter in a certain dinner party set, but what's the point of trying to follow her Kool Kids banter? Quoting Tina Brown on bloggers is like asking Marie Antoinette about the hunger problem. Croissants, anyone?


Anyone who's watched "Topic A With Tina Brown" can't possibly take her seriously. Just viewing the hand-held introductory segment-- where she jabbers about the upcoming program while making a point of staring off-camera while sporting an inane smirk-- gives you a indelible impression that the show is going to be superficial, fatuous and, most of all, affected. Her 'journalistic' style isn't much different.

Her writing on current affairs reminds me of Gina Arnold's writing on music: it's the point of view of someone who is, at least figuratively, a starfucker. She's fawning and self-celebratory, and treats memes (perceived and legit) like something she read about in People magazine. Tie it all together with crowbarred metaphors and inexplicable leaps in logic masquerading as incisisve media criticism, and you've got a Tina column.

She probably considers the Stasi line 'throwing a bomb'. It's hard to distinguish, though, when she spends most of her time at the word processor shooting from the hip and hitting herself in the foot.


I think blogging is like printing. It's just another means for delivery of messages. Blogging is neither good nor bad, it's just a means to state opinions. The problem is all this hype about how important bloggers are is overblown. There seems to be a propensity for many bloggers to have a sense of self-importance and publish information that does little to seperate opinion from fact. It's again all about attracting attention to their blog. A newpaper story, on the other hand, has some accountability.

Why should I care that a blogger likes this product or that? And more ridiculous is automatically streaming all the blogs to my in basket when a particular product, company or person is mentioned. There is often no integrity or expertise among bloggers.

I realise this is off topic, but I'd like to hear others on this. It's also the same with Podcasting. Just another means for tape recording. Now there's a Podcasting conference coming up. Geez. Give me a break!


Tina is just exposing her fear of the massive changes that are happening. The media elite do not control things anymore. It was okay (for her) when the "good guys" (media elite) wrote things as they set the tone of the national conversation. No more.

Don't kid yourselves, Tina and the rest of them are worried about their cash flows slowing down.

Rik Gary

I don't know that Brown's remark about the bloggers was unforgiveable; more of a twit and raspberry at the worst tendencies and Drudge-like scandalmongering that crops up in the blogosphere. A good line I thought.

Jozef Imrich

"Journalists belong in the gutter becase that is where the ruling classes throw their guilty secrets."
- Gerald Priestland, British broadcaster. BBC Radio, 19 May 1988

Without any doubt there are isolated bloggers who might be considered communist-Stasi little helpers just as there were ordinary people under Nazism who were Hitler's little helpers, but as Jay Rosen said: generally, a blog is a little first amendment engine.

I was born into a dirty culture, where one out of five people was a registered spy. The information that was collected was twisted in surreal ways without any accountability and with deadly results ... On daily basis, the Theatre of the Absurd was performed at every street corner. The Stasi had unlimited power which was exercised in secret. Behind closed doors, behind barbed wire, behind the veil of ideology of Us and Them ...

I hope the comparison will not stick as the sunlight of the blogosphere should expose the analogy for what it is - a reckless suggestion!

We must remember that Stasis (KGB, VB, etc) were in a habit of attacking dissidents through name-calling!

I want to echo the evocative voice of Dana: We're not the Stasi. We're the people. Imperfect, but more accountable than Stasis in their brown uniforms who could turn on you just for staring back into their eyes (sic).

Jim M

Too many people in journalism and punditry seem to feel they should never be called on anything, even when they spout BS. Tina apparently agrees. I disagree. That, I guess, makes me part of the "new Stasi". I think that's close enough to invoke Godwin's Law in her case.

Kirk House

If we all make mistakes then what's the problem? If our public persona is damaged so is everybody else's. Relative to everybody else things will be the same but those who BS consistently will more likely be held accountable now.

Professor rat

It's good if Tina feels hunted because she is. I have superintelligent rats all over DC watching her every move. We are planning on taking out a few 'nodes' in the networks of the elites having just found out that the media, the Dems and the Repugs are all over on the lunar right compared to the vast majority of sensible Americans and so, wont be missed. No one likes journalists, used car sales persons and politician's. No one will miss a few. Finally no one need fear this brave new ' Brinworld' of distributed accountability provided they stay obscure and well meaning...kinda like Dan.


Strikes me that this thread points out a weakness of blogging...this dialogue (multilogue?) moved rapidly from a point made about our general failure to allow for an element of hyperbole and literary expression, and about PC hypersensitivity. Instead of commenting on the issue, we digress into attacks on Tina Brown. This is getting to be like the verbal vermin that infested Dan's old blog, blowing off content in favor of personal comments.

You don't have to like Tina or her work -- personally I think she's generally superficial -- to admit that she makes some good observations. And you don't have to take Dan's point about that observation as an endorsement of everything she says. On the face of, do you agree with the observation or not?

All of us say or do dumb things in our lives, and all of us (well, most of us) have occasional flashes of wisdom. Can't you simply focus on the thought, not the thinker?


All of us say or do dumb things in our lives, and all of us (well, most of us) have occasional flashes of wisdom. Can't you simply focus on the thought, not the thinker?

Some might call it ad hominem. I call it considering the source. Tina Brown has little credibility as anything but a cartoony example of the Peter Principle, yet she has a forum and, inexplicably, power. SPY magazine used to take her on regularly (and hilariously), and the best parts of Wonkette's blog are the regular jabs at Tina's WP column. As long as people take Brown seriously, it's encouraging that there are folks around to point out her considerable failings.

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