Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jill Carroll vs. the Blogosphere

The reaction to the release of Jill Carroll was a watershed moment for the Internet, illustrating the stark contrast between the old mainstream media and the blogosphere. While the mainstream media rushed to judgment and proclaimed the release of Carroll by Iraqi kidnappers to be a positive thing, many in the blogosphere urged caution. I was especially proud of many of my fellow conservative bloggers who instead of posting their initial unfiltered thoughts without thinking about what they were saying, stepped back and took a moment to ponder the ramifications of her release. Maybe her being alive wasn't such a good thing after all, they said after some reflection. Maybe it would have been better if she had been beheaded.

When a video came out of an interview in which Carroll said she had been "well-treated" by her captors, the natural inclination might have been to dismiss what she said since the video was released by an Iraqi party with ties to her captors. But The Corner's Jon Podhoretz, whose natural skepticism about anything that contradicts his world view is especially inspiring, insisted that we take a second look. He presciently predicted what many would soon be saying: "I expect there will be some Stockholm Syndrome talk in the coming days." National Review editor Jonah Goldberg also perceptively saw through the premature jubilation that greeted the news that she was still alive. "Jill Carroll is increasingly starting to bug me," he said. "I'm getting a very bad vibe."

On little more than a hunch, conservative bloggers dug in to find the real story. Mick Stockinger wrote what many people were afraid to say out loud: "I don't want to sound like a nut, but could this have been staged?" he said of her kidnapping. "May as well just come right out and say she was a willing participant," echoed Orrin Judd. "I say the kidnapping was a put up deal from the get go," chimed in the folks at RedState. Regular Ron, who displayed a surprisingly sophisticated knowledge of the theories of Barthes and Derrida, deconstructed her statements to reveal what she really said. And Little Green Footballs applied scientific analysis to the video, saying, "Note that even after her release, Carroll maintained that she had been treated well by her captors-so it would appear that this journalist for the Christian Science Monitor made these anti-American comments voluntarily."

In the mainstream media only The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, who increasingly takes his cues from the great work that conservative blogs are doing, saw what many of his colleagues refused to see, "Carroll seemed bent on giving her captors a positive review," he wrote. "Why make a terrorist group who put her family and friends through a terrible three-month ordeal sound like they were running a low-budget motel chain?" Now that Ben Domenech is gone, Kurtz seems to be the only independent voice left at the Post.

When it was later revealed that Carroll made these statements at gunpoint, the speculations of these brave conservative bloggers were confirmed. As anyone who watches the show 24 knows, when people have a gun to their head, they always reveal the truth. Although Carroll later tried to back away from the video, her disavowals were made after she was safe and sound and free to make up any story she wanted without fear of consequences.

But if there is a real heroine in this saga, it would have to be Debbie Schlussel, who was on this story from Day One with the tenaciousness of a Komodo Dragon on a goat. "Why are so many people who claim to be patriotic Americans so overjoyed that Jill Carroll was freed?" she wrote the day of her release. "Here's a clue for the obviously dimwitted. Why was Jill Carroll freed? Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she HATES AMERICA and our Mid-East policy. And, oh yeah, she HATES ISRAEL, too."

Schlussel delved into Carroll's past writings and detected left-wing bias that had heretofore been hidden to almost everyone. She pointed out that criticizing the War in Iraq is actually evidence of anti-Semitism, something I had not realized before. But most of all I was impressed by how Schlussel refused to back down from her statements no matter what "evidence" was presented to her. When even some conservative bloggers attacked her, she didn't cut and run but went on the offensive. Although some went so far as to say that she should apologize for her statements, Schlussel refused, saying, "As for any calls for an apology, the apology is owed to ME by all the premature articulators out there who didn't read closely."

I can appreciate Schlussel's complaint, which she is often forced to level at anyone who disagrees with her, that people have not read what she has written closely enough to catch the hidden nuances, even though she takes great pains to help her readers out by often WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS. I think this is a big problem in the blogosphere. I have noticed myself that sometimes when people read what I write, they actually think I mean the opposite of what I say!

The blogosphere is young and we sometimes make mistakes, but I think this whole episode has shown us how it is already superior in many ways to the MSM (which is what we bloggers like to call the mainstream media because it is easier than writing out the words m-a-i-n-s-t-r-e-a-m m-e-d-i-a and the time we save by not writing out the words "mainstream media" can be spent doing more research to back up what we say). One of the mistakes Jill Carroll made was that she tried to go out into the Iraqi countryside to get closer to the story, which caused her to lose perspective. It is bad enough that some members of the mainstream write about Iraq from their hotel balconies, where they can still be distracted by bombs going off, instead of reading Pentagon press releases in the peace and quiet of their own offices back home where they can reflect before they write the way most bloggers do. In fact, after Jill Carroll has time to think about all the terrible mistakes she made in Iraq, maybe she should start a blog.

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Anonymous said...

Spectacular piece!

Favorite line:
Regular Ron, who displayed a surprisingly sophisticated knowledge of the theories of Barthes and Derrida, deconstructed her statements to reveal what she really said.


Thanks for a great read. You nailed it.

Anonymous said...

Good grief. So much for copy/paste. That was meant to refer to:
Regular Ron, who displayed a surprisingly sophisticated knowledge of the theories of Barthes and Derrida, deconstructed her statements to reveal what she really said.

benmerc said...

Hats off to Jill, she has tried to stay on the ground with the real everyday people of Iraq, to find out what is going on and how they are being impacted by the "war".

As far as the people that had kidnapped her, I doubt they really care about what any western reporter believes...she is very fortunate to be alive. The radicalized population will more then likely increase as time goes on, and it will become next to impossible to achieve what these free lance reporters have been doing.

Myself, I would not risk my life as they do...I am already convinced of the corruption and war profiteering that has occured. This goes so far beyond Truth=Oil, what ignorant tripe. I hope the good ones as Jill stay home for now, let the fools that created this mess deal with the reality.

JReid said...


JM O'Donnell said...

That was amazingly well written.

Anonymous said...

A masterpiece! Watch for the "cease and desist" letter in your inbox.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to Debbie Schlussel. I had never heard of her before. An intelligent blogger such as yourself should, I think, try to incorporate into your blog a little bit of satire, as Debbie has on hers.

Pretend that you are literally foaming at the mouth with your hatred of those who think differently. Claim that those who disagree with you are illiterate and too stupid too understand your posts.

Your daily hits will skyrocket, as hers apparently have. In a thread she has that Liberal Moonbats might describe as self-congratulatory she writes:

"In one year, our traffic has gone from about 50 visitors/readers a day to on average about 5,000. On many days, the traffic has exceeded 10,000 and occasionally neared 20,000. The average visitor stays on our site about 2 minutes per visit."

Think about it Jon, you could get a 2 minutes per visit average!

Anonymous said...

Then there are others who actually worked with her in Iraq:

After her capture and subsequent release three months later, the blogosphere was ripe with accusations and assaults on Jill's character. She was described as an insurgent, terrorist sympathizer, “anti-war” and anti-American. She was savaged for the video taken at Dulaimi’s headquarters on the day of her release, because she wore the hijab and said those who imprisoned her treated her kindly. Those who wrongly criticized Jill fail to realize that she was still in fear for her safety when she made the tape.

"During my short time with Jill, nothing she said or did gave the slightest impression that she deserved the slanders attributed to her. Jill was honest, brave, and respected by the Marines who met her. I had the honor of joining the Marines of the 4th Mobile Assault Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, and the Iraqi Army on a raid on a small weapons cache on the Euphrates River. Jill joined us. She dismounted and walked the site with us, viewed the weapons cache (which can be dangerous, as the rounds can be “hot” or rigged to detonate) and even returned from the raid with the Iraqi troops on the back of an unarmored Iraqi transport, something quite dangerous with the high roadside bomb threat in Western Iraq. I insisted on traveling in an armored vehicle."


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