Sunday, 26 August 2007

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My Narrative, Right or Wrong (Relevant or Irrelevant) Glenn Reynolds peers into the depths of media bias and sighs at the cite before him: Media credibility takes another hit: Fishbowl DC's [...] contest wasn't on the up-and-up, reports Farhad Manjoo. "What's surprising is not that anyone cheated—online polls are about as trustworthy as Soviet Bloc elections—but how brazen, and how easy, the cheating was," he writes. Friends of this year's two [...] winners built software "bots" that voted thousands of times for each of them on the Mediabistro site. "I once had a girlfriend who quit journalism and went into P.R. because she said public-relations work was 'more ethical,'" he writes. I'm inclined to agree. That an online poll by a media site was so easily rigged is more evidence of pervasive, perfidious liberal bias. As Michael Silence writes, that the "media [is] caught cheating" is another hit to its credibility, further evidence of its liberal bias. One problem with this scenario: I'm not the media. You heard me right: I actively participated in the rigging of an online poll ... concerning the "hottest" media type in D.C.. I am become Liberal Media. I aided Capps and Andrews. I admit it. Other people aided their friends. They admit it. So I can only ask: This is what elicits Reynolds' patented "sigh"? Then I remember: It's all about The Narrative. Must remind readers of The Narrative. Can't let people forget The Narrative. The Narrative may not obtain—it may even be hilariously irrelevant, as here—but it's still The Narrative. Its fires must be stoked, its hunger must be slaked, its every need must be fulfilled, lest it wither before the face of its fundamental untruth. This reminds me of the old joke: How do you get to be a popular blogger? Hit the bottom of the barrel, then keep on going.
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More on KC Johnson's Durham in Wonderland; or, "Horowitzian," adj. KC Johnson was bemused by my characterization of his argument as "Horowitzian," because, it seems, one can't share argumentative tics with someone who's publicly denounced you. But Timothy's comments further down what has turned into quite an exceptional thread have helped me hone my complaint against KC vis-a-vis his Horowitzian tendencies. His recent post about Duke University Press provides a paradigmatic example. He writes: In looking through the Group [of 88]'s c.v.'s, an interesting pattern emerges: sixteen have published books with Duke University Press. One of those sixteen is Priscilla Wald—who, as I mentioned earlier, was the impetus behind my first post—as her Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form was published by DUP in 1994. According to this profile of her, she wasn't hired by Duke until 2000. What Johnson considers invidious, then, is that Wald now works for the institution whose university press published her book six years earlier. That Johnson fails to note that is telling. Also omitted is that it's published under the aegis of Donald Pease's prestigious New Americanist series. While KC would preface half its number with a "[naturally]," the New Americanist series is the series for Americanists. It published my advisor's book (New Deal Modernism: American Literature and the Invention of the Welfare State) as well as Sean McCann's Gumshoe America: Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism, both solid works of literary historicism. Timothy's comment captures why they would want to publish with DUP even if they were currently employed by Duke: One reason that I think someone might publish with their "home" press is simply that it's the best or most reputable press in the subject area that they're publishing in. Duke is certainly one of the top presses in cultural studies and cultural history, for example. If I were at the University of Ohio, for example, it would be strange not to consider publishing with the very prestigious Social History of Africa series that has moved to that press from Heinemann. So Wald's crime, KC suggests, is publishing Constituting Americans with the most reputable press in her field a full six years before being hired by Duke. I sleuthed all these facts in five minutes, but in the course of writing a book, KC somehow failed to come across them? I don't think so, and this is what disturbs me. As Timothy writes (again regarding the character of university presses) in another comment: Different scholarly publishers definitely have an identity, a particular reputation with regard to specialization, and KC knows that perfectly well. At least I hope he does: it's a pretty basic facet of the scholarly world. The emphasis is mine, because that phrase captures the definition of "Horowitzian." To wit: Horowitzian, adj. (of a writer) belonging to or characteristic of David Horowitz, esp. as regards intentionally withholding profession-specific information when speaking before a general audience in order to incite it to commit acts of rhetorical violence. This is the Ur-Horowitzian move, and if...

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