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Newspaper surrenders to humorless nutroots; Editor and Publisher writer gloats

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 22, 2008 08:30 AM

So, not only are we not allowed to make fun of Barack Obama, but it appears that liberals in the media have also made ridiculing the left-wing blogosphere off-limits.

Via Free Republic and Newsbusters comes news that the Austin American Statesman has caved into nutroots pressure to yank a front-page feature poking gentle fun at the Netroots Nation/Kossack blog convention last week. Who led the charge to censor the piece? Editor and Publisher’s Greg Mitchell, who whined about the article in a blog post at the Daily Kos (!) and then gloated about his role in yanking of the “snarky” article in E&P.

Kristinn Taylor at FR writes:

The Austin American-Statesman caved to pressure from the Daily Kos-Netroots Nation and pulled an article from the newspaper’s website that poked fun at the liberal convention being held in Austin last weekend.

The article, entitled Gore’s Surprise Visit Highlights Netroots Conference was published on the front page of Sunday’s paper.

It was written by feature writer, Patrick Beach–meaning the article was not a straight news piece (think Dana Milbank.)

Greg Mitchell, a writer for Editor & Publisher who blogs at the Daily Kos attended the conference as a panel speaker.

He brought attention to the article by posting about it [at] the Daily Kos. Mitchell says that Austin Kossacks claiming to know people at the American-Statesman promised to “work their magic” on the paper.

By Monday the article was pulled from the American-Statesman’s website, with the message: “The page you’ve requested is not available.”

The newspaper’s groveling apologia for daring to mock the un-mock-able is here.

Our front-page story Sunday about the Netroots Nation convention included doses of irony and exaggeration. It made assertions (that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might find herself at home politically in Beijing, for example) and characterizations (“marauding liberals” was one) meant to amuse. For many readers, we failed.

In trying for a humorous take on the Netroots phenomenon without labeling it something other than a straightforward news story, we compromised our standards.

— Fred Zipp, editor

The Forbidden Piece by feature writer Patrick Beach is still cached here. A taste:

There was even one panel Friday featuring Princeton economics professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (wearing, as if to galvanize stereotype, what appeared to be Birkenstocks) that was essentially about how the media weren’t liberal enough.

As they say, only in Austin.

Filmmaker Paul Stekler, who teaches film production and politics at the University of Texas, said:”As you have greater democratization (through the use of technology to distribute one’s message), you also have a greater degree of what’s called confirmation bias. We live in a very different and weird world in terms of dissemination of information right now.”

Indeed, you couldn’t find anybody who disagreed that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were “two ignoramuses,” a label hurled by Parag Mehta, the Democratic National Committee’s director of training.

Big names? Got ‘em. There was Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of the Daily Kos political blog, who hatched the idea a few years ago to get his like-minded pals together and who, in a Friday lunchtime keynote with Harold Ford Jr., chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, seemed amazed at what the notion had unleashed.

“We’re going to keep growing; we’re going to keep pushing for an unapologetic Democratic Party,” Moulitsas said.

Then there was John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel who has made a second career of railing against what he considers right-wing excesses the way recovering alcoholics preach against strong drink.

“I have deep fear of my former tribe, and what they might do particularly in the law,” Dean said, before going on to refer to former Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani as “Richard Nixon on crystal meth.”

It’s plinking bass in a barrel to paint liberals as overly intellectual types incapable of having fun unless reading Noam Chomsky counts, and it sure does for them. And there were a handful of colorful characters, including some men from Cedar Creek who looked like bikers and represented the Warrior Wolf Society, which they described as “a group of pagan warriors with wolf totem spirit,” and a guy in a Bush mask and clothing with prison stripes.

But for the most part, these were serious-minded people, and decorum prevailed.

When a few people had the temerity to shout at Pelosi and Gore, they got shushed as mercilessly as they would have at a Nanci Griffith concert.

The no fun thing? Maybe it’s because, as Democrats, they’re not used to having it.

Hit the nail on the head. And we can’t have that.

Shusssshhhhhh.

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