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Aaron Barlow
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Last seen: 2 years 7 weeks ago
Joined: 11/28/2007

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Just What Is "Breitbarting"?

Well, for one thing, it is not journalism.

When I wrote "The Pride and Reward of Falsification: Post-Objectivity as Post-Responsibility" for the recent book News with a View (edited by Burton St. John and Kirsten Johnson) centering on Andrew Breitbart and James O'Keefe, I wasn't thinking in terms of a specific, definable strategy, certainly not one that would come to be known as "breitbarting." I should have been. Make the jump»

The Swan Song of N. Leroy Gingrich (version 2.0)

May the ghost of T. S. Eliot forgive me. I first wrote this a little more than a year ago. This is a slightly revised version... a little better,

I hope. Let us go then, you and I,
Before Tea Party politics passes us each by
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through Washington's K Street,
The lobbyists' retreats And chicken dinners in one-night swank hotels
Still taking time for whatever sells;
Lobbyists that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, ``Why is it? "
Let's take the money and make our visit.

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Gingrich: The Second Coming

Yesterday, I ran across a parody I wrote last spring, a take-off of T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" called "The Swan Song of N. Leroy Gingrich."  Perhaps I was premature.  Anyhow, it moved me to now demolish W. B. Yeats and his great poem:

THE SECOND COMING Make the jump»

"A Bridge Too Far"?

Yesterday, after a year of battering by the forces assembled by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and funded by the likes of the Koch brothers, progressive America finally successfully fought back. But the victory is small, and will prove Pyrrhic (as 2008 victories have proven to be) if progressives feel they can now relax. Make the jump»

Adventures in Primaryland: An Ongoing Tale

The Mitten only held out a position paper when it saw The Primary Voter. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had VERY long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.

'Cheshire Mitt,' she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only pushed out the position paper a little further. 'Come, it's pleased so far,' thought The Primary Voter, and she went on. 'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?' Make the jump»

Post-Investigative Journalism

Commenting on for story that James O'Keefe has targeted a couple of progressive think tanks for his pranks:

Ryan Girdusky, a spokesman for Project Veritas, the 501(c)3 organization O'Keefe started, declined to confirm whether EPI was the subject of an ongoing investigation, arguing that it would undermine the remainder of the group's work.

"Ongoing investigation"?  Oh, please.  Maybe their idea of "investigation" is something like attempting to lure someone onto a houseboat for a sex sting. Or breaking into a Senator's office.  Whatever it is, it is certainly unlike anything that has ever before been called "investigation."  On his website, O'Keefe prides himself on being an exemplar for "modern-day muckrakers"--but he hasn't the patience to do the real research, the old-fashioned investigation that was the hallmark of the muckrakers of a century ago. Make the jump»

How Not to Be a Journalism

Patrick Howley, an assistant editor at The American Spectator, gives a master class in how not to commit journalism in a piece posted October 8 on "Occupy" events in Washington, DC.  His article should be read by both those interested in becoming journalists (as a guide to behavior to avoid) and those trying to understand the lurch towards "post-objective journalism" exemplified by Andrew Breitbart and James O'Keefe. Make the jump»

Excerpt: "Beyond the Blogosphere: Information and Its Children"

Here's a little bit from the book Robert Leston and I have just completed, Beyond the Blogosphere: Information and Its Children.  It will appear from Praeger in December:

In movies, in music, and in other areas, copyright has limited the intellectual commons, and the “intellectual commons contains the raw materials that people use to create works” (Henry Mitchell, The Intellectual Commons, xi-xii). When it is constrained, creation is restrained, which is doubly unfortunate, given the fact that there is no scarcity when the raw material is—or should be—infinitely reproducible. What copyright has done is to create boundaries where none existed or, as some would argue, need to exist. Though there may be justification for boundaries of some nature, the fact remains: copyright as practiced today, whether it is meant to or not, constrains creativity. Many owners of copyright may argue otherwise, that copyright enables creativity, but the evidence says otherwise. Certainly, the beneficiaries of copyright are rarely the actual creators.

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In the Land of Perfect Justice

My horror at state-sponsored killing has rendered me unable to write on the topic since the state of Georgia murdered Troy Davis just a little more than a week ago.  Instead, let me recount a story my father used to tell, about "The Land of Perfect Justice," for those who believe justice was served by his execution: Make the jump»

The "He Said/She Said" Dodge

Want to avoid controversy yet continue to style yourself as a journalist?  Use "he said/she said," the surefire way of removing yourself from the debate while retaining a sense of personal gravitas!  Yes, kids, "he said/she said" can save you the trouble of real reporting, for it ties perfectly into the here-today-and-gone-tomorrow news cycle.  All that will remain is another entry on your resume!  So try it today and you will appear serious, keep your topic opaque, and your employer happy.

Jay Rosen, who has valiantly tried to push journalism into a position where it sees responsibility to its readers as the number one consideration--and has been doing so for over twenty years, has renewed his push to rid the profession of "he said/she said" 'reporting.'  Make the jump»

Education "Facts": Brill v. Ravitch

Recently, I posted a response to Steven Brill's piece for Reuters, "The School Reform Deniers" on my personal blog (it was reposted by Raging Chicken Press a few days ago).  In it, I call into question what he claims as his journalistic impartiality and also question what he resorts to calling "facts."  In the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, Diane Ravitch reviews Brill's Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools in an article entitled "School 'Reform': A Failing Grade."  Not only is she even harsher on Brill than I am, but she fills in a great deal of background.

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In Memoriam

[With the 10th anniversary coming this weekend, I want to re-post something I wrote as soon as I returned to my store from the Brooklyn Heights that morning.]

As I walked from teaching in Brooklyn Heights this morning, someone said that one of the World Trade Center towers had collapsed. We had heard the sirens in class; a couple of students discovered through their cell phones that planes had hit the towers, so I knew that a tragedy was in progress. But I refused to believe that either of the towers could collapse.

I walked to the promenade over the East River where it joins the Hudson, where one normally sees a magnificent panorama centering on lower Manhattan. I wanted to prove to myself that both towers still stood. Make the jump»

"I Can Do Anything You Can Do Better"

In George Eliot's Victorian novel Middlemarch, set around 1830, just prior to the queen's ascension to the throne, one of the main characters, Dr. Lydgate, comments:

In this stupid world most people never consider that a thing is good to be done unless it is done by their own set.

180 years later, and things haven't changed a bit. Make the jump»

"Breaking" or Broken?

In 1972, I spent a summer as a copyboy for The New York Times, working nightside in the newsroom.  Often, after the Late City edition was out, there wouldn’t be that much to do, not unless the bells on the news-service printers at one end of the room started ringing.  They alerted us that something significant had occurred, something important enough that a decision might be made to stop the presses for an update to the edition.  This happened often: we had plane hijackings, the shooting of George Wallace, and a number of other events that (among other things) gained me valuable overtime when they were not resolved until the wee hours of the morning. Make the jump»

Traitors and Enemies

Yesterday, we visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on the Hudson River side of Manhattan. I discovered that the Intrepid was one of the aircraft carriers whose planes my father may have directed to refueling stations as a radio operator on Leyte Island during the naval Battle of Leyte Gulf (while the battle for the island was going on around him). We also toured the Growler, a submarine in use in the early 1960s.


While watching a video in line to get on the sub, I was struck by a section on the history of submarines. After talking about the lack of success of the Turtle in the Revolution (an attempt to find a way to break the British blockade), the story turned to another blockade of American coasts, almost a century later. The blockaders were explicitly compared to those British of the earlier war and were not named as anything other than “the enemy.” The hero of the segment was a “Confederate planter” identified as a “patriot,” a man named H. L. Hunley. My jaw dropped.


How could anyone, there, at a museum dedicated to the armed services of the United States, find it acceptable to refer to the United States Navy as “the enemy” and call a rebel against the country a “patriot”? Make the jump»

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