The ‘Rolling Stone’ Michele Bachmann Profile Aftermath (and Where Matt Taibbi is Right) | The Awl
Some follow-up on the Crazy Shelly piece I blogged about earlier this week.
Still sorting out what I think about this. I’ve enjoyed Taibbi’s writing for a long time (his description of Goldman Sachs is still the coffee-out-the-nose funniest thing I’ve ever read about them), but if you don’t provide links and/or attributions for the stuff you write, you’re not only ripping off other people, you’re undermining your own credibility. And that holds whether you’re a high-profile correspondent for a publication with an international readership, a stringer for an alt-weekly, or a mere blogger.
But even that isn’t as simple as it sounds. I don’t know whether it was Taibbi or his editors at Rolling Stone who dropped the ball, but I think there’s a distinction to be made between whatever mistakes were made during the writing and editing of the piece on the one hand and the insights and analysis presented in the piece on the other. You don’t necessarily have to credit Taibbi and/or Rolling Stone to recognize the hard and disquieting observations about the source of Michele Bachmann’s appeal: the crazier she gets, and the more we ridicule her, the stronger her support grows among people who just want to send us a big FU. Even Fox News had to apologize for asking her if she was a flake.
Facts and rationality don’t enter into it. When people aren’t equipped for critical thought, they’re easier to manipulate via emotional appeals, misdirection and easy answers. And when someone can take advantage of that, plus the toxic combination of laziness, disengagement and stress that characterizes daily life for far too many people, well, you wind up with people like Bachmann, or Palin … or Rob Ford. It would be a mistake to underestimate the pattern, and a bigger mistake to stick to the same strategy of dismissing them as kooks or morons.
Update: Matt Elliott seems to have found our very own Michele Bachmann right here in the Big Smoke …