The Social Network screenwriter, West Wing creator, and Making Movies playwright Aaron Sorkin has taken every available chance to assail bloggers that he’s been given. Incredibly, he’s been given many, and he continues to use them to take the opportunity to reiterate his tired anti-blogger rhetoric time and time again. Yet: his latest swipe—backhanded, sniveling, and skeptical of a proven New York Times reporter if only because of said reporter’s background as a blogger—is especially impressive.
Mr. Sorkin’s hatred of bloggers stems from an incident during his West Wing days, when he took to a Television Without Pity message board to defend himself against criticism, and was given a harsh shellacking on the board and in the press for doing so. He channeled this into a particularly wonderful episode of The West Wing. Since then, he’s taken every chance he can to sideswipe the matter of these pesky bloggers who blog things (it’s often argued that he wrote an entire film about his distaste for the democratizing nature of the internet, let alone the press he did for it), forgetting the fact that he still often takes to those same blogs to communicate with the hoi polloi whenever it’s called for.
But even for him, this—from an Interview magazine Q & A with David Carr, a New York Times media reporter and the primary Times staffer featured in Page One, the documentary about the Times—is a particularly bad look.
Mr. Sorkin is discussing with Mr. Carr the matter of Brian Stelter, the other Page One protagonist who was hired by theTimes’ media desk in 2007 after the acquisition of his television industry news blog TV Newser, all while he was still in college. A blogger, hired at the Times! One would think Mr. Sorkin, once considered a wunderkind of sorts for his play A Few Good Men, could relate.
And then, this happens:
SORKIN: And The New York Times felt that [Stelter] should be working there?
CARR: Yeah, which seemed like a pretty weird idea at the time. But he has become such an asset. We collaborate a lot. The robot part is that he moves his elbow and content comes out. While he’s chatting, he’s also tweeting and blogging—and, you know, I’ll think that’s cute, and then the next day he’ll be on the front page with a synthetic piece about the analytics of television or new media, which he also covers. If Brian wasn’t such a decent guy, I would actually slip something into his food or quietly suffocate him with a pillow.
SORKIN: I’m glad to hear he’s a decent guy who has the respect of his co-workers. So then I’ll speak to this idea more generally: I know when I read something in The New York Times that whoever wrote it had to be very good to get the job that they have. But I don’t know anything about the person who is blogging online. It’s an easy job to get. Anybody can be a blogger—you just set up a site and blog. But there isn’t the same kind of accountability. I mean, The New York Times makes mistakes—Jayson Blair, Judith Miller—but when it does, it’s a very big deal.
Not so much, but that—like Mr. Sorkin’s erroneous and wide-reaching assessment of the action of blogging as the mating call of the bottom feeders of the entire internet and not as another format of writing (one quite celebrated at the Times), or his complete misunderstanding of the concept of “citizen journalism” by comparing it to “citizen medicine” —is, of course, a different story, though not one Mr. Sorkin will ever read, since, of course, he’s not so big on reading bloggers.
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