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February 5, 2004

So much for those “Federalists”. Chris Farah of Salon cautions us against the menace of those who have
made names for themselves by having no names at all—and by using the safety and security of their secret identities to spread gossip, make accusations and levy the most vicious of insults with impunity.
Good point. I’ll be sure to take these guys off my bookmarks list immediately.

(In a further irony, Farah’s Salon assault against the grave menace of anonymous webloggers is, cough cough, currently lacking a byline. This, after Salon’s grossly unbecoming climbdown following their misconceived attack on Atrios. I’ve tried very hard to like Salon over the years, but at this point it’s clear that it’s run by morons and that everyone who associates with them gets moron cooties.) [12:19 AM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on So much for those "Federalists".:

--kip ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 02:26 AM:

Even after they’d edited the piece without a correction notice, then posted the brief notice that they’d edited the piece, the original paragraph with its damnably missed point was left in place “above the fold” to non-subscribers and anyone who hadn’t sat through the ad yet.

They appear to have kicked the piece out from behind the ad shield now, and I can’t remember exactly how the “above the fold” URLs are constructed, so I can’t say for sure that it’s still there. But it was left to stink up the joint long after the correction had been noted.

Morons, indeed. Is Andrew Sullivan still writing for them? If so, given his recent radio contretemps with Atrios re: “anonymity” (these people have such a curious notion of identity; I’d expect Sully to fuck up the difference between anonymous and pseudonymous on the fly, but surely with some time and reflection the rather stark difference ought to be clear)—that would help explain this curiously incurious article, perhaps. Or perhaps I’m wasting tinfoil best hoarded for the hats we’ll need later this wacky election year...

julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 03:17 AM:

I didnt see anything in that article that suggested to me that Christopher Farah knew anything about Eschaton going in, other than that a particularly evil anonoblogger wrote it. After all, he didnt cite anything that wasnt on the first page when the article went up.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 03:46 AM:

Iíve tried very hard to like Salon over the years, but at this point itís clear that itís run by morons and that everyone who associates with them gets moron cooties.

Real Live Preacher? World O'Crap? [The former] Reverse Cowgirl?

That's what makes this whole gurgle of idiocy so especially awful: Salon itself hosts a whole lot of really good blogs, many of which (such as RLP) are pseudonymous.

Barry ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 10:14 AM:

Salon is going through a crisis of faith.

They obviously want to be 'kewl kids', in and down wit' da media homeboyz. Remember 1998-2000? Salon had stuff on the GOP which the mainstream media just didn't want to know, let alone print.

Running an actual liberal newszine which publishes good liberal stuff has got to be both exhiliarating and frightening. They've got to decide which they want to be.

What amazes me is that, from a strictly marketing viewpoint, I'd think that running a liberal site would be more lucrative. There are too many right-wing organs of the GOP to compete with, for a right-wing site.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 11:44 AM:

I've been down on Salon for years. Back in the dot.boom (yes! greg costikyan coined that phrase!) I was paid to surf the Web on a fast computer through a T3 connection. And because of the bleeding-edge crashware plugins used by Salon and its advertisers, the salon.com Web site was one of the slowest to load that I regularly encountered.

I never even considered paying for a subscription. Why pay for that kind of abuse?

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 12:31 PM:

Funny; I’ve been reading Salon for years on a variety of connections and never found it to be particularly slow or particularly crash-prone. (The Flash ads on places like C|Net and the Washington Post are another story.)

And isn’t the point of the subscription that you don’t see the ads?

Geoduck ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 06:33 PM:

At least their comics are still worth reading...

Scott Rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 09:13 PM:

Hey, a writer made a mistake, we copped to it, we corrected it, and noted the correction.

The page has two bylines on it, though they are "tag-lines" at the ends of the pieces, so maybe that's why you didn't see them.

If one goof makes us all "morons," then I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a non-moronic Web site any where. I'd like to think that our >8 years of publishing thousands of articles by hundreds of writers (including, just coincidentally, Greg Costikyan who is referenced above) weigh a little more heavily in the scales.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 09:32 PM:


I haven't written for Salon since July 2000. I swear! Does that make me cootie free?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 12:14 AM:

"Hey, a writer made a mistake, we copped to it, we corrected it, and noted the correction."

Yes, after being seriously nudged at every single stage, like a truant child who really really doesn't want to admit to wrongdoing.

Like I said. I've respected you guys, and defended you guys, even against my better judgment, like when you published evil shits like David Horowitz. Guess what: no more. Fool me once, et cetera.

Atrios is right. Who the fuck cares what the Kool Kidz think. Yes, that's you.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 04:27 AM:

With all due respect, Scott -- and, unlike most of the other commentors on this thread, I gladly sit through the daypass ad every day to get my fill of Salonny goodness -- that brief correction seemed pretty inadequate to me.

Yes, Christopher Farah didn't spot that Atrios' post was a satire; that's true. But the reason for his misinterpretation wasn't the subtle and mysterious vagaries of communication -- it was because he was too damned lazy to click the hyperlink to Crooked Timber, which was right at the head of the article, and which would have Made Everything Clear. As I said in my e-mail of complaint to Salon, in scrolling all the way down to the bottom of the page containing Farah's article to click the e-mail link to send my letter, I had actually gone to more effort than Christopher Farah would have had to expend to avoid mischaracterizing Atrios' article.

And then there's the fact that Farah's entire thesis was seventeen kinds of stupid anyway, but that's merely frosting on the shitcake.

Barry ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2004, 10:27 AM:

Scott, I'm a subscriber to Salon.
As my post above says, you have a
choice - be one of the 'in crowd' with
the media, or be back to what Salon was.

If you want an example of where you
might end up, just go to slate, and read
(even the liberal!) Kaus' columns on the
Democratic candidates.

julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2004, 12:31 AM:

I'm a charter subscriber as well, and I like a lot of what Salon publishes, but I have a real issue with the fact that this article, tracking recent complaints by contributor Andrew Sullivan which weren't mentioned in the piece, appeared and was so sloppily fact checked.

There's still a major error in the piece. Atrios was not responding to Kristof's piece on sex slavery, but his followup suggestion that feminists aren't interested (because as we know, white male conservatives have been on the front lines of this one for years, pace Neil Bush).

I also have a problem with the fact that the link that your young author didn't follow would have led him to a story which proved his point about irresponsible blogging: an open request for anonymous and unsourced slanders of a presidential candidate, which were subsequently published online.

Unfortunately for his spin on the evils of anonymity, the irresponsible blogging in question came from, and is defended by, the named and paid bloggers of National Review Online.

It seems to me that this unfortunate incident is a little too close to Mr. Sullivan's pettishness on the subject of Atrios and your own publication's pettishness on the subject of MWO to have been a mistake you would have made if the players weren't, shall we say, invested.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2004, 12:52 AM:

I like and respect Scott Rosenberg, but I would really, really like him to respond to, at the very least, the points made above by the very sharp Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged.

I mean, I didn't mean to get personal with my criticisms of Salon. But if Scott is going to speak for the organization, I'd like him to do more than a mere drive-by.

scott rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2004, 05:29 PM:

No drive-bys here. I'm looking for a parking space... But I *am* on the road right now (oops, the metaphor is now hopelessly garbled), and on deadline here at ETCon. I'll post a real answer later tonight or tomorrow. OK? Sorry for delay.

Scott Rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2004, 01:42 AM:

OK... Julia suggests there is a "major error" in Farah's piece, that Atrios was "not responding to Kristof's piece on sex slavery, but his followup suggestion that feminists aren't interested." I just looked up the Atrios comment that Farah quotes ("Fuck you Kristof, you human scum.") The comment appears as part of a post that reads, in its entirety, "Like Roger Ailes, I had conflicted views about Kristof's ego-boosting adventure in girl-purchasing. But, now that it's all over, I can say - Fuck you Kristof, you human scum."

On "You human scum," Atrios links to a post by "Roger Ailes" (not, it seems, the guy who runs Fox) that discusses what Kristof got wrong about feminist organizations.

So I'm sorry, I don't see an error here, certainly not a major one. Atrios' post clearly states that he is saying "Fuck you" to Kristof on the basis of having read the whole series. To me, that's his primary statement: "the series is over, now I can say, Fuck you, etc." The link is a secondary reference that adds a further dimension to his condemnation, but it doesn't seem tobe his main motivation for denouncing Kristof.

As for some of the other complaints here, let me take them one one at a time:

Kip asks why the display or "teaser" copy was not corrected as quickly as the story itself. I don't know if that was the case, but if it was, it was a production error. We make those sometimes. We're a much smaller operation than we used to be. If it's a sign of anything it's of how overworked out staff is, not bad faith.

Barry: I'm a 45-year-old writer and editor with no interest in being a "kewl kid," whatever that is. Or a Kool Kid. "Running an actual liberal news zine" is what we're, mostly, trying to do, though I'm afraid the niche is not as lucrative as you might think. Our vision of "liberal" has always included the notion that we'll be publishing opinions we disagree with. Also that we don't have a party line. So it doesn't make a lot of sense to read this one little gossip-column item by a junior writer as somehow representing some sort of "official Salon position." There are no official Salon positions, just writers we publish.

Alan: Sorry you don't like the ads. They do help keep us afloat. If you pay for a subscription the ads go away.

Ray: no one ever said the error was the result of "vagaries of communication." It was *a mistake,* we admitted it and corrected it very forthrightly in our correction notice, which says, "A Feb. 4 article in The Fix misinterpreted a satirical item about George W. Bush written by the blogger Atrios. The item, a letter from a former maid of the president making outlandish allegations, was parody. Salon regrets the error."

Patrick suggests that we had to be "seriously nudged at every stage" to make the correction. I'm not sure what he's referring to. We ran the correction as quickly as our editorial process allows. I think the story was up only a few hours before we fixed it. From the moment we looked at it we knew we needed to correct it; there was no reluctance on our part. We have an east coast and west coast office, so sometimes there's a lag.

I don't know that I've answered every single complaint but that's a lot of them. This was not part of some Andrew Sullivan conspiracy. I don't like Andrew Sullivan's politics myself, I've violently disagreed with him many times in print, he hasn't written for Salon in months that I can recall, and this whole thing has nothing to do with him. It was just a dumb error that we've corrected and wish never happened. But when you publish 10-15 articles every day and you have a relatively tiny staff and you're also trying to put most of your time and energy into in-depth reporting while also keeping a business afloat (toward which end things like gossip columns actually help), well, it's hard to be perfect. That's why we have a corrections column in the first place -- so we own up to this stuff and can't pretend that we didn't screw up.