23 Jan 2010

Charles Johnson Makes the News

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Charles Johnson

Little Green Footballs’ Charles Johnson sold his share of Pajamas Media in 2007. (I didn’t know that! How come PJM, Glenn Reynolds, and Roger Simon never reported it? Could I possibly have somehow missed reading about it?)

Johnson is teaming up with Barrett Brown at Vanity Fair to start a new blogging consortium described as intended to expose the failures of establishment news outlets.

Charles Johnson seems to me to have gone off the deep end recently, devoting his blogging activities principally toward a crusade to enforce some particular notions of political correctness of his own, and a return to criticizing targets of wider interest strikes me as potentially a positive development, but Vanity Fair, home of the self-important windbag James Wolcott, is an unlikely venue for objective and intelligent news correction in the old LGF manner.

Still, let’s hope for the best.

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This New York Times magazine article describes Johnson’s rupture with the Right Blogosphere supplying some details that even those of us who followed all this had missed.

It notes that Johnson changed sides on Global Warming just in time to get blindsided by the Climategate scandal, which seems to have permanently tarnished the appeal of that particular delusion, and it even reveals the disturbing behavior pattern that puzzled and depressed those of us who had long admired Charles Johnson.

The soundest conclusion seems to be that he has indeed changed his mind — less about issues (though there are a few, global warming chief among them, on which he will admit to having gradually reversed positions) than about the people with whom he is willing to share the stage, or, perhaps, about his willingness to share the stage at all. Not that changing your mind, even in today’s political environment, makes you into some kind of intellectual hero. People change their minds all the time, for all kinds of reasons.

No one ever said L.G.F., or any blog, had to be about the free exchange of ideas. “It’s his sandbox,” Pamela Geller says simply. “He can do whatever he wants.” Still, if you read L.G.F. today, you will find it hard to miss the paradox that a site whose origins, and whose greatest crisis, were rooted in opposition to totalitarianism now reads at times like a blog version of “Animal Farm.” Johnson seems obsessed with what others think of him, posting much more often than he used to about references to himself elsewhere on the Internet and breaking into comment threads (a recent one was about the relative merits of top- versus front-loaded washing machines) to call commenters’ attention to yet another attack on him that was posted at some other site. On the home page, you can click to see the Top 10 comments of the day, as voted on by registered users; typically, half of those comments will be from Johnson himself. Even longtime commenters have been disappeared for one wrong remark, or one too many, and when it comes to wondering where they went or why, a kind of fearful self-censorship obtains. He has banned readers because he has seen them commenting on other sites of which he does not approve. He is, as he reminds them, always watching. L.G.F. still has more than 34,000 registered users, but the comment threads are dominated by the same two dozen or so names. And a handful of those have been empowered by Johnson sub rosa to watch as well — to delete critical comments and, if necessary, to recommend the offenders for banishment. It is a cult of personality — not that there’s any compelling reason, really, that it or any blog should be presumed to be anything else.

“This is one area where I did change,” Johnson admitted. “I realized you can’t just let it be free speech. It doesn’t work that way on the Internet. Total free speech is a recipe for anarchy when people can’t see each other.”

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One Feedback on "Charles Johnson Makes the News"

sofa

he’s a baby screaming for attention.
ignore CFnJ. he’s made himself irrelevant.



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