Sunday, April 24

"HOUSTON CHRONICLE" COLUMNIST CRAGG HINES LASHES OUT AT "NEANDER-BLOGGERS"

One has to wonder reading the "Houston Chronicle's" (registration required) Washington D.C.-based columnist Cragg Hines' diatribe this morning why, if he's going to mount an all-out assault on the right-wing blogosphere, he can't name names and lend some specifics to his broad-brush attack. Instead, the man just fulminates aimlessly.

The genesis of his wrath is the so-called "talking points memo" that Republicans purportedly distributed among Senate colleagues during the Terri Schiavo controversy, turning the medical/legal controversy into a political tug-a-war. Hines is looking for "a properly obsequious note of regret" (or a "modest mea culpa") from "the neander-bloggers," who he claims denied the existence of the memo from the onset of its suggested existence and were fervently "hoping for another high-profile big-media flame-out about a phony document."

In the course of his column, he seems to delight in walking the cafeteria line of Leftist calumny and drawing from that smorgasbord a collection of cheap-shots against center-right bloggers, abetted along the way by the Chronicle's headline writer, who adds "ultra-conservative tom-toms" to Hines' fusillade.

What has most provoked Cragg Hines is the fact that in his estimation the "fallout from this despicable memo has been inexplicably mild." Perhaps Mr. Hines doth protest too much. After all, the memorandum that surfaced was prepared by a legal counsel for Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), who drew it up of his own volition and resigned once it was squarely attributed to him. Hines, of course, refers to the memo's author as a "hard-right operative." Seems Cragg Hines' keyboard could only steer Left when he knocked out this pablum over a bowl of pabulum.

Interesting for me, as a self-described, center-right poliblogger in the Houston area, is Hines' sly reference (in decrying the "wrath" of the "once-blazing bloggers" who went to the defense of Republican Congressional leaders during the Shiavo controversy) to a "Houston-area coven" of bloggers, who he suggests have turned their guns on him. It would be nice to know who Mr. Hines contends comprises this "coven" -- i.e., the witches of the "hard-right commentators ... in cyberspace" who occupy territory in this part of the country. Coming from the likes of Hines that would be an accolade.

After having read his column several times, I must say that it amounts to "much ado about nothing," particulalry since the columnist neither points to nor quotes from a single blogger or blog. How did such a fatuous piece of writing ever make its way into a big city newspaper? Indeed, this column is so devoid of substance that it calls to mind a computer error message I've seen from time to time: "no data found."

FOLLOW-UP: Contrast Hines' column with this one by John Hinderaker of Powerline. The former is an example of jounalistic vacuity; the latter, of a careful delineation of facts.