10/04/2004: Another interesting assessment....
this time of Memphis blogger in suspension Mike Hollihan by his bete noir and claimed "inspiration", Jackson Baker, in The Memphis Flyer's annual "Best of Memphis" section: Best Temporarily Out-of-Commission Weblog.
The difference between Ward and Hollihan, by the way, is that Jeff is actually in the arena and knows how things work. Politics, with all its deals and leaks and trade-offs and quirks and feuds and cozy relationships, is a machinery that requires some hands-on experience in order to understand. You can't grasp it from your living-room chair, not even with the best how-to manual in your lap.Hey Mike, c'mon back. Can't you see that your loyal fan base misses ya?
Or to put that another way, employing a metaphor that I had ready to go when Hollihan not long ago boasted on his site of a wholly imaginary "takedown" he claimed to have done of my coverage, in 2001, of the income-tax fight in Nashville. It reminded me, I was about to say, of those sad old men in rooms at the Y, pants down around their ankles, one hand clutching a copy of the latest Playboy, the other assuring them they had just made love to Britney Spears.
In truth, though, I don't see Mike that way at all. He is (was?) a damned fine media critic, by and large, and I didn't turn my polemical guns on him for several reasons -- not least of which was that he did some compelling work in analyzing several local situations and personalities and the coverage of them. The problem was that, as soon as Hollihan stopped trying to figure everything out in his head and made an effort to do some real reporting, he discovered that a variant of Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle governs all true journalism. As the 20th-century German scientist found in looking at sub-atomic matter -- or any variable, for that matter -- the very act of observing something changes it. Among the implications of that, for political journalists, is that no preconception -- count 'em, none -- holds up when you're looking squarely and fairly at your subject.
Hollihan, for example, had City Council member Carol Chumney pegged as a grandstander and ego-tripper -- a case easy enough to make, even for those who watch her closely -- but he made the mistake of actually getting in touch with her and discovered that he'd been charmed. Thereafter, his certainties seemed to fade. Join the club, Mike. Something of the sort happens all the time.
Besides, I'm tired of reading the Memphis papers because you aren't doing it for me. :-)
Len on 10.04.04 @ 10:56 AM CST