I’m beginning to understand why Michelle Malkin and “The Twitchy Staff” publish everything under the byline “The Twitchy Staff.” If I blamed a missing person for the Boston bombing on account of him being mentioned on a police scanner while wearing a Che t-shirt, I wouldn’t want my name directly associated with it either. Or with stories like “We’re pretty sure Dzohokhar Tsarnaev is not Tweeting,” which carry all the authority of a poorly sourced rumor just in case it really happens to be him so that Malkin can engage in some blog-triumphalism if the improbable turns out to be true. Would Malkin do this under her own name? Of course not. As proof I offer as evidence that she hasn’t. It looks like she has, but a quick read of that post shifts all potential blame where she wants it: on the “Twitchy Team.” Who’s responsible for this irresponsible speculation? One of these people. Which one?
Wouldn’t you like to know.
But you never will, because the site’s designed to facilitate irresponsibility. Despite all Malkin’s proud declarations about the importance of citizen journalists, in the end she’d rather hide, like the coward she is, beyond an anonymous byline because she knows “mistakes were and will be made.” How does she know? Because that’s the point of the entire site. She’s free to publish anything she’d like without having to worry about annoying things like “consequences,” because not only is she not directly responsible for what she’s published, she’s merely aggregating what other people have written on Twitter. It’s a perpetual bullshit machine powered by anonymity. She can take credit for its “findings” when some infernal occlusion causes it to belch out something accurate, but for the most part she denies via “UPDATE” the endless stream of bullshit it was designed to produce.
This is a more sophisticated version of the long-standing tradition among conservative bloggers of denying-without-denouncing the sexism and racism and homophobia and xenophobia of their readers. The bloggers are merely exercising their right to speak freely about their conservative values and extending their readers the same opportunity. When those readers inevitably reveal themselves to be within earshot of the whistle, these same bloggers claim to have no idea where all these dogs came from. The problem with this approach is that eventually the stench of urine sticks to bloggers who quietly encourage their readers to lift their leg on the America dream. So Malkin created a forum where figuring out where that smell’s coming from is as difficult as distinguishing one yellow stain from another — we certainly can’t blame her for the mess or the miasma.
But I think we can. I think we should force Malkin to take responsibility for the state of her house. She wants to shift the blame to her roommates or their friends but her name is on the deed. Anything they do or say is ultimately attributable to her. (Hence the title of this post.) I normally wouldn’t make such an insistence, but since her site is designed to allow her an unconscionable deniability, I’m not sure what choice we have.