Op-Ed Pages Getting Bloggier
Henry Farrell recounts an interesting discussion he had on bloggingheads with Dan Drezner, about the longstanding norm wherein regular op-ed columnists “seem to be discouraged from mentioning each other by name when they disagree/attack each other.” They note that the norm seems to be breaking down as the op-eds “become a bit bloggier” and, indeed, many of the columnists actually start blogs.
In general, this is all to the good. I can see the justification for the previous policy, I think — that you don’t want your op-ed pages to break down into bickering between a small group of elites, and that you want to preserve the ideal of the op-ed writer as a disinterested and magisterial figure taking the pulse of the American polity, etc, etc, etc. But this also allows op-ed writers to get away with a lot of self-serving bullshit while never being called on it. A more vigorous back-and-forth of the kind we’ve being seeing is a highly imperfect corrective to that problem — but it’s certainly better than the current system where regular op-ed writers are simultaneously put on a pedestal and never subjected to the processes of fact-checking that restrain traditional journalists.
Of course, bloggers have made a mantra of “fact-checking their asses” for years but, in reality, far more people are reading the leading columnists than the average blog. So, yes, less oblique discussion of controversial topics is desirable.