Category Archive 'Pajamas Media'

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.”

11 Jan 2010

DC Launches Today

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Roger Simon and Charles Johnson never got those Ferraris everyone thought they’d soon be driving back when Pajamas Media launched.

PJM, at least, survived, but nobody got rich. Heck, Charles Johnson even lost his good sense, changed sides, and now devotes his blogging activity to defending Warmism, enforcing political correctness, and bashing conservatives. Sad, very sad.

Let’s hope Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller, launching today, proves more fortunate.

DC has been described as intended to represent “a conservative answer to Huffington Post.” Arianna Huffington responded to the launch with a gracious post, observing amusingly that her own Huffpo was founded as “the progressive answer to Drudge.”

01 Feb 2009

No Ferraris! Bummer

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When the multi-talented Charles Johnson and Roger Simon announced the successful first round of financing for an advertising coalition of bloggers, originally known as “Open Source Media” back in November of 2005, there was a veritable explosion of negative emotion on the Blogosphere.

Several notorious contrarians deplored what they perceived as “fencing in the open range.” The institutionalization and amalgamation of blogging under a commercial entity, they argued, would stifle creativity and surrender the freedom of individual self expression to crass commercialism.

Others, like Dennis the Peasant (who claimed he had collaborated with Roger Simon in coming up with the big idea, and been later jilted) were pea green with envy, as visions of bloggers a few years down the road cashing in PJM stock worth untold millions and tooling down the highways in shiny new Ferraris danced through everyone’s head.

One particularly hostile blogger set up a PJM Death Pool, gleefully predicting the imminent breakup and demise of the new project, and inviting critics to place their bets and pick a date. The Death Pool’s last posting occurred in May of 2006, and the betting pool raised a whopping $18.

After all of 2005-2006’s storm and fury, it was a bit disappointing to learn last night that Roger Simon had announced the dissolution of the PJM advertising network and the termination of payments to member bloggers as of April 1, 2009. Simon stated that the proprietors intend to re-direct the PJM project toward television programming production.

Pity. The recession obviously was the final nail in PJM’s coffin, but it seems clear in retrospect that blog readership didn’t really continue growing rapidly to the sky, blogging didn’t actually replace print and electronic journalism, and nobody has succeeded in developing a terribly lucrative advertising model for blog sites.

All PJM seems to have achieved, in retrospect was to divert the talents and energies of Charles Johnson, and some of his very talented editors, away from blogging to the pursuit of a chimera. But, who knows? perhaps the lessons learned in this first experiment in a blogging business model will, in the end, make possible the development of the ship which actually sails.

The editor of Never Yet Melted extends his condolences on the unhappy result of so much effort, and best wishes for future prosperity and success (new red ferraris for all!), to the management, editors, and individual PJM bloggers.

22 Dec 2005

PJM is Supposed to be Evil?

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This morning, I find Glenn Reynolds (one of the leading bloggers in league with Satan, at least according to Blogosphere alarmists in a tizzy over the possibilities of corporate influence intruding into blogging) advertising books and (Hurrah!) absinthe in his PJM ads. Libertarians, like the author of this blog, approve of books and absinthe.

Meanwhile, Power Line is running Blog ads, and is shudder advertising memberships in Greenpeace, which are telling us the polar bears are all going to drown, if we don’t give up driving our SUVs.

If PJM is selling absinthe, and Blog ads are selling Greenpeace memberships, I suggest every blogger wanting to do ads should run, not walk, in a PJM-wards direction.

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Those Greenpeace Polar Bears grabbed PJM’s Absinthe and both vanished by late morning Pacific time.

18 Dec 2005

Good Work, PJM

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Some prominent PJM blogs began sporting cool new sidebar logos, featuring rabble-rousing slogans embodying hard-core “we bloggers vs. the evil MSM” rhetoric. I meant to grab both examples, and put up this post praising them, but the text could not be cut and pasted, and while I was typing out Number 2 below, that sneaky Charles Johnson went and switched ’em all over to Number 2.

You couldn’t have a starker contrast between a system of checks and balances, and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing what he thinks. — Jonathan Klein, former CBS executive.

Go, PJM. Up the Revolution!

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Found it. That earlier one read:

The core of the American people has manifested itself most purely in blogs because elites for so long controlled all avenues of communication. Those days are over now. — Tammy Bruce, Editorial Board.

16 Dec 2005

Pajamas Media: Bash Fest

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Dennis the Peasant, while we weren’t looking, produced reams of anti-PJM postings. No, I’m not going to read, or count all of them, but he has come up with a logo which beats PJM’s by wide margins.

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Steve H. writes (12/12):

I love these guys. They can’t write their way out of a wet Kleenex, so they whore their way to 15,000 measly visits per day, and suddenly they think they know how to dance? Standing up in your high chair may make you feel just as tall as Daddy, but that doesn’t mean it’s so.

and on 12/13:

Wizbang is an undistinguished blog that gets 15000 visits per day, half of which are search engine accidents, which means it’s about as important as one of the bigger condo newsletters. There are high school papers that have readership of the same order of magnitude.

This aroused my curiosity, and I found that his own hit score on 12/15/05, at 9:00 PM PST looked like:

Average Per Day 2,781
Average Visit Length 2:45
Last Hour 229
Today 9,249
This Week 19,467

He gets better on 12/14 with We Will Bury You!, which –for the curious– provides some speculation on the economics of PJM.

Helo at Drumwaster writes:

That has been my biggest gripe about blogs such as Instapundit for quite a while. Glenn Reynolds can browse the various news sites faster than anyone in the world and post a quick link that looks something like “THE PRESIDENT’S APPROVAL RATING is down, but I predicted this in my sleep sixteen months ago to the minute…” and be considered a prophet by the vast majority of the blogosphere. LGF does much of the same, and outside of proving that Dan Rather’s documents were fake, hasn’t been known for much of anything outside of that since that day (with the exception of the failed Pajamas/OSM media venture, but we won’t bring that up). The reason I chose to post about this is because the blogosphere has turned into a K-12 playground; there are the cool kids who get fame and look down on the regular guys who bust their asses, and there are those of us stuck somewhere in the middle who are here to have some fun, yet get jerked around and trashed because we don’t take the “blogging industry” seriously enough for those who want it to be the next MSM.

Wizbang is a great blog with great insight, and they have at least two posts a day that I learn something new from. What keeps them from becoming an Instapundit or a LGF is the fact that they grab snippets of an article and then create their own points and perspective from it. Wizbang editorializes and creates content, versus Instapundit and LGF who merely link like an e-mailed crawler gone haywire. But, the blogs will always be on top because of the fanatical blogging crowd who wake up each morning hoping that their posts will be linked by one of the two.

Does this make them bad? Not at all. The wonderful thing about the blogosphere is the fact that we can do what we want and not be forced to worry about a profit margin or angry advertisers. When the Pajamas/OSM debacle was occurring, I read from one pundit who equivocated it to the bossy girl up the street who wants to become the leader and organizer of the local baseball game, which subsequently took the fun away from the whole process. When people take blogging too seriously, or when the little cliques are created that demonize and demoralize others in the blogosphere by shunning them and trashing them because they’re not the “cool kids,” it ruins exactly what made the blogosphere fun to begin with.

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Liberal Avenger kisses up to Hog on Ice.

Moxie has nothing interesting to say, but that doesn’t stop her.

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John Cole finally gets sick and tired of the relentless (and mostly pointless) bashing.

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I have to agree with John here. An awful lot of electrons were spilled to very little substantive, and no positive, purpose this time. I think it is more than a little churlish to abuse Glenn Reynolds and Charles Johnson. I read them daily, as most of us do, for good reason. If the PJM critics could do anything half as well as those two gentlemen, whatever it was, we’d all be reading them too. But this unutterable waste of bandwidth demonstrates why we don’t read some of them at all, and read others infrequently. Trying to report PJM bashing is becoming both overly laborious and a crashing bore. If you can’t feud amusingly, don’t feud, say I. This is it. No more rubbish about PJM will I waste my time on.

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As to PJM: well, I wouldn’t give it a Best Site award this year, but Roger Simon borrowed no money from me, and they don’t charge me to click on it, so I am not demanding a refund. It would not surprise me if it got better over time. Suggestion: how about a longer page? There could be more features, more major stories. Maybe throwing more darts per diem would produce more bullseyes.

11 Dec 2005

PJM Feuding Continues

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Happenings in the PJM Wars have been slow lately, and we had been planning to post soon jesting about starting a PJM Death Pool Death Pool, but to our surprise several new postings (about PJM ads) have actually appeared.

Meanwhile, Ann Althouse has not laid aside her wrath. NYM’s author inclines to the opinion that Roger L. Simon would be well advised to send flowers, and apologize to the nice lady for hanging up on her. The role of Ms. Althouse in the Blogosphere is not unlike that of one of the female Olympians in the Homeric epics, and Mr. Simon, at the moment, looks a lot like Odysseus who managed to get more than one of the wrong gods and goddesses annoyed with him, and consequently had a very rough trip home.

Anechoic Room believes that Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse has sold his soul to the forces of darkness. So recognizable is the instantaneous taint of corruption, in AR’s eyes at least, that AR is striking RN from his blogroll, and is telling readers that he henceforward looks upon that blog as dead. AR is consequently (with somewhat hypertrophied rhetoric) accusing PJM of “killing a blog.” Ms. Althouse, with a graceful air of detachment, did manage to link this one.

Riehl World View also takes a poke at the afore-mentioned lackey of the nefarious Si Fan, predicting censorship, and rhetorically disbelieving RWNH’s owner’s statement that he’s gone with PJM even though he could make more from other advertising.

Steve of Hog on Ice promises to be fair:

I’ll try to speak up if they ever do anything right. In its current incarnation, PJM is a dumb idea conceived by the greedy and clueless, but a fair person, while watching a lifeboat sink, will be honest enough to say something when he sees an occupant bailing particularly well.

But then, he immediately proceeds to machine-gun the imaginary life-boat, agreeing with the just-a-bit-exaggerated thesis that PJM has “killed” RWNH, and –reaching even further into fantasyland– asserts that “it killed Instapundit, too.” We’d say ourselves that rumors of Instapundit‘s death are greatly exaggerated.

Jim Hu of Blogs for Industry identifies a geographical mistake by Gateway Pundit, and faults some of PJM links’ coverage of the Dongzhou story, to which he brings special interest and expertise. Interestingly, it seems that somebody at PJM read his criticisms and did effect some corrections.

Sortapundit, speaking from the left, finds the current state of affairs wanting, too:

Based on nothing more than a cursory glance at the site I’m left wondering if I’m missing the point. What are they trying to be, apart from a fairly poor right-leaning facsimile of the Huffington Post? Why should I, the reader, visit a disappointingly dull, soulless blog whose posts are written by someone named Compiled by Pajamas Media Staff in Los Angeles? I can get the same information, presented in a much more entertaining format, on any number of blogs in my favourites list. Hell, I can get this information from a freakin’ newspaper. At least they usually tell me who’s writing the articles. And I get the sports.

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That the OSM, soon PJM, launch proved an anticlimax seems to be established history at this point. As Horace used to say: Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus [the mountain laboured, and a ridiculous mouse was born], but it is still early days.

Sometime about a week ago, we dropped by PJM, and actually found a useful link. We looked around startled. The world was changing, the PJM site, still no thing of beauty, was recognizably becoming actually useful, and we realized with some surprise that a subtle watershed of performance had been reached.

It may be that corporate influence will actually someday impact, and adversely influence, bloggers involved with the PJM project, but get real, guys, the time to start blogging about it is when something of the sort actually happens. Obviously, the corrupting influence of corporate gelt has nothing to do with any perceived deficiencies of format or content to-date, and bloggers who carry on hysterically about PJM, or who wage irrational vendettas (not actually personally having been hung up on by Roger Simon) are merely going to convince the rest of us that they are prone to premature judgements, and –in extreme cases– that they are complete whackjobs.


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