You know it's a sad day in Puppetland when John Hood has nothing better to do than whine about the mean old News and Observer and the bullies at BlueNC. But whining he is, and it's one of the funniest things I've read in a long, long time.
Let's take it apart.
RALEIGH – I’d like to be able to claim credit for a colossal, unprecedented feat of public-relations hocus pocus. That would be quite a rush. Unfortunately, the facts would not bear out such a claim.
Not that facts are an impediment to some. Which brings me to Jim Protzman and his allegation that the Raleigh News & Observer has become a mouthpiece for conservatism in general and the John Locke Foundation in particular. Protzman, a former member of the Chapel Hill Town Council and strategic director for the Raleigh public-relations firm CapStrat, is the main founder of a blog site, BlueNC, for progressive Democrats. While the site itself is worth an occasional glance, for those wanting a sense of what some North Carolina Democratic activists are thinking about and working on, Protzman’s contributions (under the nom de plume “Anglico”) border on self-parody.
The fact is, John Hood can claim credit for colossal, unprecedented feats of public relations hocus-pocus every day. Ted Vaden properly labels his self-described "leading think tank" as nothing more than an "opinion manufacturer" - and truer words were never written. With their minds already made up about everything from taxes to charter schools to economic incentives, the Pope Puppets generate hocus-pocus like nobody's business, spoon-feeding it to reporters who suck it down like it actually means something. No peer review, no scientific nothing, just right wing opinions wrapped in right wing facts designed to destroy government and the common good.
And speaking of facts, Mr. Hood should have checked with me before writing that I am the "main founder of BlueNC." I am not the main founder, I am a guy that Lance asked to help with writing at a website he was starting. I'll give Hood credit though, he got my day job title right. He's awfully fond of talking about the work I do when I'm not blogging, but why? I'm guessing he's jealous because he's never had a real job.
It gets even better:
His rules of composition aren’t hard to fathom. Just describe everything as a conspiracy, hatched by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney or, in North Carolina, JLF board member Art Pope.
Oh, and pepper up all these pathetic excuses for argument with profanity. Lots of profanity. That makes flimsy allegations valid. Plus, insult people’s appearance, intelligence, religious faith, and family members (living and dead). That demonstrates one’s virility.
What a dumbass. If John Hood knew one thing about me, he would know I don't give a shit about virility. But I must say, that's pretty damn rich coming from a guy who refers to his kids as The Little General and The Little Conquerer.
I especially like the reference to Pope as a JLF board member. According to his own testimony in the Morgan petition to the State Board of Elections, Art Pope is actively and intimately involved in JLF, and why wouldn't he be. He's spending a fortune to reshape North Carolina politics, and JLF is the tip of the poison spear. Art Pope isn't just a JLF board member, he IS JLF.
But I digress. Let's move on to the heart of the matter:
With regard to Protzman’s claim of a pro-JLF bias at the N&O, however, a response is necessary – not simply because it has been propagated among a few progressive activists, or because it has any chance of meeting the giggle test, but because N&O public editor Ted Vaden chose to highlight the allegation in his Sunday column. I understood why Vaden made the decision – after all, the professional judgment and fairness of the newspaper were being challenged. The resulting column did slap down Protzman’s initial comparison, which wasn’t hard as it was patently absurd (he had compared the number of citations of JLF, a multi-million-dollar operation employing 28 full-time-equivalent position, to the citations of NC Policy Watch, until recently a one-man operation headed by my friend and colleague, Chris Fitzsimon).
There you have it. JLF is a "multi-millin-dollar operation employing 28 full-time equivalent position[sic]." How dare anyone actually compare that grand Puppetshow to the work of lowly NC Policy Watch?
You see, in the world John Hood lives in, money trumps everything. He gets to influence the news because he's the Stagemangaer at a big, bad "multi-million-dollar operation." Who cares if it happens to be filled with ideologues who never met a fact they couldn't twist. John's just like his boss, Art Pope. These guys want to be able to buy and sell news just like they want to buy and sell elections . . . just like Dick Cheney buys and sells barrels of oil. To my knowledge.
John Hood wraps up his screed with this:
To develop a rigorous comparison of how the N&O covers a range of public-policy institutions, you would have to delve more deeply into qualitative assessments. (As I recall it, I learned the fundamentals of media content analysis in a J-school class taught by the brilliant Dr. Jane Brown, who happens to be Protzman’s wife. Ironies abound.)
Though I'm sure Jane would appreciate the compliment, and she is indeed brilliant, I'm having a hard time understanding why Hood feels compelled to include anything whatsover about my wife in his Monday morning rant. Enough said.
What to make of all this?
It's hard to say. My best guess is that the Puppetmaster is pissed because the wheels are starting to fall off his "multi-million-dollar operation." If I were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and my Stagemanager didn't have anything better to do than pick fights with a bunch of profane bloggers, I'd be pissed too.