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Some Additional Comments on Bowden’s Article in The Atlantic

Morgen on September 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm

I wanted to add just a few additional comments to my earlier response on Mark Bowden’s article in The Atlantic about my role in the Sotomayor nomination. Mostly to just clear up a couple of misperceptions which were included in Bowden’s story. I want to emphasize again that I believe Bowden genuinely tried to understand and portray all the relevant facts and events. So I attribute these errors to a lack of imprecise communication on my part in one case, and a difference in interpretation with the other.

In his article, Bowden describes me and my co-blogger John as “as part-time, or aspiring, journalists”. I can’t answer for John, but I believe my own response to Bowden’s question on this was to laugh, and say something to the effect that I am probably the definition of an amateur, couch journalist. The truth is that I’m a co-owner of a pretty successful business, and I really don’t aspire to a career in journalism. In fact, I only started blogging within the past 6 months and I’m not even sure I aspire to a career as a non-professional blogger.

As I told Bowden, the reason I got into blogging was to make a difference in the national debate over issues I care deeply about. This remains my sole motivation to this day. Call me a dreamer, but the idea of researching and writing articles only to be read by a few people doesn’t hold much appeal for me. And in point of fact, I view my efforts related to Sotomayor as one of the least important things I have focused on. Which is why I was truly amazed at the impact my discoveries had in the national discourse over her nomination. Like a lot of other conservatives I quickly came to the conclusion that there were more important things to focus on, especially when her confirmation was all but assured.

Which brings me to the second misperception I wanted to clear up. In his article, Bowden referred to John and I as “political hit men” and characterized my motivation for posting the information on Sotomayor as an attempt to “damage” her. I can certainly see why he or anyone else would come to that conclusion. But it really was not my motivation. As Bowden also mentioned, I actively seek out stories and information that will resonate beyond just our blog. As a virtually unknown blogger, this is pretty much a prerequisite if your goal is to make an impact on discussion at a national level.

So my motivation was simple: to discover and post something noteworthy that other blogs (and perhaps the media) would be interested in picking up. And so “mission accomplished”, I suppose.

But frankly, given my true (self-interested) motivations, I think I would be deserving of even more criticism if the statements I discovered of Sotomayor’s were completely immaterial to her nomination. Or even if they were as as non-controversial “in context” as Bowden and others purport them to be.

But clearly this was not the case, whether you agree with Bowden or not. Many prominent conservative pundits, thinkers, and Senators interpreted these statements much as I did. And Sotomayor had to do a lot of dancing in order to explain them in her confirmation hearing. To this day, I just fundamentally disagree with the interpretation and meaning that Bowden (and Sotomayor herself) have attributed to these statements.

And so now Sotomayor is a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court…and I’m still a mostly unknown blogger. This is probably as it should be.

But to take Bowden to task slightly for his concluding paragraph, I have no problem speaking for myself, and I’m not beholden to or paid by anyone for the words I write. And I think my track record in this case, and others, clearly contradicts another supposition of his. On occasion, even bloggers too can “afflict the comfortable”. Even when they aren’t trying to be journalists, but rather are just trying to make a difference and stand out in a sea of information.

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