Andrew Sullivan Dives Right Back Into Trig Trutherism

Andrew Sullivan is back from vacation and back obsessing over the birth of a two-year old kid in Alaska.

Last week, Dave Weigel used his guest-hosting opportunity at The Daily Dish to point out just how deranged Andrew Sullivan’s obsession with the birth of Trig Palin had become. Well, Sullivan’s back, and he obviously didn’t use this as an opportunity to walk back from the edge of the cliff:

We journalists are and should remain the lowest of the low life forms in a political democracy. We should not be hobnobbing with the powerful, let alone bragging about it, and begging for scooplets to get Politico-style pageview moolah. We should not be garnering our reputations and angling to get on cable or  playing water-slides with the people we cover.

We should be asking the most uncomfortable questions of the many frauds and phonies and charlatans who are in public office – and enjoy being despised by the legions of true-believers who actually credit the endless bullshit shoveled out into the public by frauds like Palin.

Instead, these journalists spend a large amount of time ostracizing and tut-tutting another journalist for simply asking questions to which there must be overwhelming and easily available material evidence to resolve the matter entirely. They are actively engaged in helping prevent easily accessible information from being disseminated to the public, and discouraging other journalists from inquiring into the truth behind public facades. And their motivation for this is not journalistic, but at its best, careerist and at its worst, political.

So, there you have it. Sullivan has somehow convinced himself that this two year long obsession of his, which is isn’t qualitatively different from World Net Daily’s obsession with the “Barack Obama Is a Secret Kenyan Muslim” meme is actually journalism. That’s pretty sad and pathetic when you get right down to it.  As I said last week, Sullivan’s obviously a smart guy but he’s fallen down a rabbit hole and convinced himself that conspiracy theories that belong on the back pages of the Weekly World News are actually material that should be covered by The New York Times, and it’s damaged the overall quality and credibility of his work. There’s really no point in reading him anymore.

I’m no Palin fan, by the way, a fact that should be rather clear given some of the posts I’ve written just in the past month. That said, however, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that some bizarre conspiracy theory that doesn’t pass the even the most basic logic tests is actually news, especially since there are far more reasonable explanations to the “explosive” details that Sullivan seems so obsessed with.

Weigel said it well:

The Trig obsession has also, I’m sad to say, damaged Andrew Sullivan’s reputation.

That article should have been an opportunity for Sullivan to step back and realize what he’s done to himself. Instead, he jumped back in with both feet, and made it impossible for me to continue reading a blog I’ve been reading for the past eight years or so. That’s just too bad.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Politicians, Sarah Palin, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    “There’s really no point in reading him anymore…and made it impossible for me to continue reading a blog I’ve been reading for the past eight years or so. ”

    Actually Doug this is a rather unsophisticated attitude. Talented people (and Sullivan is one off the most articulate and insightful bloggers out there which is why he’s responsible for so much Atlantic traffic) sometimes have hobby horses but that doesn’t mean they are always wrong or don’t have interesting things to say. Churchill had a totally misguided hobby horse about India but that didn’t mean people shouldn’t have listened to him during the later thirties.

  2. When someone has a thought process that leads them down this road, and especially when they’re at the point, like Sullivan, where there are often 2-3 posts a day about this Trig story, being a reader who remembers what they were like before they jumped off the bridge is rather difficult

  3. James Joyner says:

    It’s actually worse than this: Weigel isn’t the first to call Sully out on the issue on his own blog. One of his assistants/co-bloggers did so months ago. It hasn’t shaken Andrew’s confidence.

    But I tend to agree with Joe on this one: Sully has a couple of hobby horses, with this being the most noxious, that pollutes his blog but he remains terrific on so many issues. Indeed, he’s sort of like Christopher Hitchens in that regard. With people of that caliber, I’m willing to put up with a lot more than I am with lesser lights.

  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    Religion is his other hobby horse. I’m not interested in this or Palin’s gynocological issues and thus skip both entirely. The Hitchens analogy is a good one, he often talks tripe but he’s undoubtedly very clever like Sullivan.

  5. Ben says:

    You’d think the fact that the two babies were born only 6 months apart might’ve deterred this loon, but… Maybe Trig is building 7’s child? Is he the 2nd gunman?

  6. The religion posts are actually interesting most of the time, and an example of the kind of thinking from him that I can respect even when I don’t agree with it —- although I will say that I’ve thought the repeated posts last month about whether Christians should pray for Christopher Hitchens as he deals with his cancer to be slightly odd.

  7. Franklin says:

    Instead, these journalists spend a large amount of time ostracizing and tut-tutting another journalist for simply asking questions to which there must be overwhelming and easily available material evidence to resolve the matter entirely.

    Doug, you nailed it when you compared this to the Birther crap. It’s also similar to the Fark.com theme that “if Glenn Beck didn’t rape and kill a young girl back in the 90s, why hasn’t he produced evidence to the contrary?”

    I’m not a particular fan of Palin’s politics or pretend victim act either, but this stuff is from Sully is far more noxious. Not to mention, I think Palin should be applauded for her decision to keep Trig. To keep attacking the result is pathetic.

    Does anybody agree with Sully that a journalist needs to be a low-life?

  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    Franklin says:
    Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 10:05

    “Does anybody agree with Sully that a journalist needs to be a low-life?”

    This is a very superficial reading of what he was saying. He was saying that journalists need to avoid being co-opted by the establishment and I’d have said he was 100% right although in practice it’s very difficult to do. Of course if you want to rely on press releases from BP or the Pentagon for your info that’s up to you.

  9. Ja'far says:

    Doug, Andrew made a lot of specific points in response to the criticism and I would be interested in reading your replies to those points.

    Personally, I’m not sure how worthy the subject is for the level of scrutiny being demanded, but it does strike me as terribly fishy, especially given Palin’s looseness with facts. I’m of the opinion (or guess, really) that she sensationalized the pregnancy – i.e. it’s a dramatic story that she struggled with deciding to keep a child with down syndrome, that she gave a speech to women after her water broke and had to fight through her contractions on stage, that she was so determined to have the child in Alaska that she had to battle to get home – when in reality it was a far more normal pregnancy than she has let on with her heroic stories.

  10. Brett says:

    But I tend to agree with Joe on this one: Sully has a couple of hobby horses, with this being the most noxious, that pollutes his blog but he remains terrific on so many issues.

    I’m glad you can, because it doesn’t work for me. That type of stuff colors most of his other opinion commentary for me. It’s like if you had somebody who was a great commentator . . . except that he believes the world is secretly flat, and nothing will convince him otherwise. It’s hard to get past that type of lunacy.

    This seems typical for Sully, I suppose. He’s a natural “believer” in many ways, and emotional to boot. I still remember some of his super-fanatical, diehard pro-Iraq war commentary from years back.

  11. Franklin says:

    This is a very superficial reading of what he was saying.

    No, actually, it was a literal reading of his first sentence quoted above. In fact, I basically paraphrased it. Plus his actions show exactly what kind of low-life he means.

    I agree with the parts about hobnobbing and bragging, but Sully is also arguing that being a low-life means delving into people’s personal lives unnecessarily. There’s no relation between that and your complaint about “journalists” who merely pass on press releases. If he wants to get dirty to expose, say, Palin’s use of personal e-mail for government purposes, fine. But that’s not what he’s doing.

  12. Dantheman says:

    “He’s a natural “believer” in many ways, and emotional to boot. I still remember some of his super-fanatical, diehard pro-Iraq war commentary from years back.”

    I concur. I’ve tended to avoid Sullivan ever since he expected liberals to become Fifth Columnists in the 9/11 aftermath, and then edited the remarks from his own site without explanation. He has very strong opinions, and can run from one extreme to another and back with very little introspection.

  13. Brummagem Joe says:

    Franklin says:
    Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 13:11

    “No, actually, it was a literal reading of his first sentence quoted above.
    but Sully is also arguing that being a low-life means delving into people’s personal lives unnecessarily.”

    I suppose so, for those who don’t know what a metaphor is. And since half of American journalism revolves around delving into people’s personal lives how how exactly does this make him uniquely bad?

  14. Herb says:

    “how exactly does this make him uniquely bad?”

    What makes it “uniquely bad” is that Sullivan is not exactly a journalist. He’s a blogger, a pundit, an opinion guy. He does little –if any– reporting on his blog. He’s not investigating stories, breaking them, calling people, getting quotes, searching public records. That’s what journalists do.

    Besides, Sully’s got it all wrong: A journalist doesn’t just ask questions; a journalist gets answers.

  15. Brummagem Joe says:

    Herb says:
    Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 15:34
    “how exactly does this make him uniquely bad?”

    “What makes it “uniquely bad” is that Sullivan is not exactly a journalist. He’s a blogger, a pundit, an opinion guy. He does little –if any– reporting on his blog. He’s not investigating stories, breaking them, calling people, getting quotes, searching public records.That’s what journalists do.”

    Not all of them. And Sullivan considers himself a journalist but just operating in a new medium. How exactly is he different from say Douhat who used to blog at the same place, or Brooks for that matter. SInce he’s by far and away the main source of traffic at Atlantic one has to assume a lot of people agree with him. Just because you think his obsessions with religion, Palin’s baby or homosexuality are bit OTT doesn’t make him less entertaining or everything he says invalid. H. L. Mencken had obsessions by the bushel but he’s considered one of the greatest journalists in US history.

  16. Herb says:

    Brummagem Joe,

    I think you missed my point.

    Sullivan’s been “asking questions” about Trig’s birth for almost two years. Where are the answers?

    Either he’s a singularly useless and lazy reporter who takes two years to figure out a fairly pedestrian story…….or he’s not reporting the story. Being a daily reader of Sullivan’s blog, I can say with certainly that it’s B. He’s not reporting the story. He’s writing about it…sure. But writing and reporting are two different things……

  17. Brummagem Joe says:

    Herb says:
    Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 17:03

    “But writing and reporting are two different things”

    This is a distinction without a difference in the context of what Sullivan does. And now you’re changing the subject. You said he wasn’t a journalist. Now you’re saying he’s a lazy journalist.
    I never read his trig tripe so I have no opinion on its merits. What I do know is however bad it may be, it doesn’t disqualify him as an interesting and insightful journalistic writer on other topics.

  18. Herb says:

    “You said he wasn’t a journalist. Now you’re saying he’s a lazy journalist.”

    Yes, I’m saying he’s not a journalist. He’s saying he is. So I’m saying he’s not a very good journalist since he’s still in the “asking questions” phase after two years. If he’s been pounding the pavement and working the phones, some of these questions should be answered, no?

    The basic thrust of my point is this: If you want to hide behind the cloak of “journalism” then you should have some journalism to show for your effort. As in, “I asked around, and this is what I found out.”