I'm deeply sceptical of the value of political blogs and hostile to the whole medium of blogging.... I'm increasingly convinced not only that blogs impoverish our political culture but that they poison it too.
If he means Westminster gossipmongers, then I see what he means, up to a point. (I took Guido's name off my blogroll ages ago.) But they don't seem to be his sole target. Does he mean blogs written by non-journalists? Or blogs written by people who have the misfortune to be less clever than he is? Seems to me that there are simply good blogs and bad blogs, just as there are good columnists and boring columnists. Here are some blatantly obvious examples of quality sites, from Left and Right (I'll stick to US sites, so as not to offend anyone) : TPM, Andrew Sullivan, Crunchy Con, Dan Drezner, Ann Althouse.) Now, in what way have they impoverished the political culture?
As for where blogs can go wrong, Rod Dreher supplies an example in a typically intelligent post responding to a reader's query about global warming. Obviously, Rod's criticism also applies to the conventional media, but it's fair to say that blogs have made much of the running on this particular issue. (Admission time: I regularly post links to climate sceptics, for the simple reason that I don't like the smugly apocalyptic tone of non-scientific alarmists.)
I do share this reader's puzzlement over the intense emotion that so many on the right invest in fighting the idea that humans have anything to do with the globe warming...The environment is to conservatives what defence is to liberals: the big issue that we don't instinctively get, and that makes us suspicious.
Rod adds these thoughts from the science policy blog, Prometheus:
A short tour around the web reveals the truth of Cass Sunstein's notion of internet-based "echo chambers" in which people talk only with those who share their views and lambaste as evil subhumans those who they disagree with. It is a rare discussion on climate change that involves a thoughtful exchange of ideas from people who hold fundamentally different political views. The self-segregation has the effect of increasing the partisan nature of the debate as people come to believe more strongly of the absolute truth in their views and the absolute lack of morals in their opponents.
Absolutely. Blogs should plead guilty. But so too should much of the scribbling profession.