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charlatans

Jonathan Bernstein asks an interesting question of liberals (he has a similar one for conservatives, but I’m sticking to my own biases here): “Which liberal bloggers or media types do you consider to be snake-oil salesmen and charlatans?” I have found the answers fascinating (if you click on the link, you’ll see the comments section, which is where the answers can be found).

Some of the nominees are to be expected, I suppose. Michael Moore is the first to be mentioned. Arianna Huffington and her Post are brought up frequently, and I’m happy to see so many people calling the Post on their dreadful coverage of health issues. Keith Olbermann, probably because he’s a loudmouth. Matt Taibbi is a favorite of mine … I think of him as Hunter Thompson with research … but I know why he tires some people.

Two people seem especially important in the discussion. One is Glenn Greenwald of Salon, who is damned with faint praise … well, that’s not exactly true, he is praised for his work and damned for who he is (or at least, who he comes across as being). I devour everything he writes, and he rarely pisses me off, except when he is dismissing the reasoned work of people I respect. One commenter got it right: “I don't think he's a charlatan, and he's attacking things that I agree need attacking, but … he seems more interested in making enemies than in making friends.”

The other person who has special importance is the one I brought up myself in the comments:

Perhaps the most important name in the comments section is Rachel Maddow, because no one has mentioned her. I'm sure I'm forgetting some other fine folks, but she's the one that I thought of: a top liberal media type that no one thinks of as a charlatan. I like a lot of the people mentioned above, so I may not be the best judge of who is or isn't a charlatan. But we seem to agree that Maddow is separate from the others.

Someone recently referred to Maddow as “Jon Stewart without the snark,” but I think she offers plenty of snark. It’s the thing I like least about her. But her adherence to factual evidence, and her ability to maintain decorum even when interviewing someone slimy, makes her Jon Stewart without the parody.

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