In the Arena

Today’s Alterman–Continued

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Several readers have wondered why I’m wasting my time with Eric Alterman. (Here’s today’s attack on me, by the way).

Here’s why: I’ve noticed that a fair number of readers have, shall we say, a slightly inaccurate impression about who I am and what I care about. Where do they get these ideas? From intellectually dishonest bloggers like Alterman. Why intellectually dishonest? Because he sarcastically calls me Time’s “most liberal” columnist and never once–not once–links to something “liberal” that I’ve written. I only appear on his radar screen when I criticize Democrats, which–yes–I sometimes do…but not nearly as often as I’ve criticized Republicans, especially during the past six years. A fairly flagrant case of bias, I would say.

The first time I met Alterman, nearly twenty years ago, I was under attack by assorted New York liberals for taking the shocking position that Daniel Patrick Moynihan was right: that out-of-wedlock births were helping to destroy the black community. The evidence of the disaster was coming in strong, and liberals refused to even consider the problem–until William Julius Wilson broke the silence with his fine book, The Truly Disadvantaged, and even then Wilson was accused, as I was, of “blaming the victim.” In any case, Alterman introduced himself to me at a party around that time and said, “Doesn’t it bother you that everybody hates you so much?”

“Not at all,” I told him. (Actually, most people kind of liked what I was writing in those days–just none of the people Alterman hung with). I was describing what I saw in the poorest neighborhoods, but I was also regularly writing about creative ideas to solve the problems.

I’ve taken non-stop crap from Alterman ever since, and tried to ignore it. But now I’m living in his world–your world, the blogosphere–and I’m just not going to let him get away with his persistent intellectual dishonesty. (Even Atrios, with whom i’ve had some disagreements–to say the least–has linked to posts of mine that he thought worthy).

I’ll try not to waste any valuable blogospace on this matter in the future. I won’t even link to Alterman’s attack on me tomorrow…or whenever. I just wanted you to know that he’s not reliable.