Patterico's Pontifications


Ed Whelan: The Only Intemperate Partisan Bully I Know Who Is Unfailingly Calm, Reasoned, and Rational

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:22 pm

Ed Whelan has been busy defending himself against some contentless ad hominem attacks from Dahlia Lithwick and Emily Bazelon, as well as the folks at the New York Times. His response to New York Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt is in four parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). His response to Lithwick and Bazelon includes this column, as well as blog posts titled Still Far From Sober and Slowly Regaining Sobriety?

Ed clearly doesn’t need any help defending himself, but I think it’s still worth standing up for a good man who is getting slandered by a pack of “journalists” who can’t seem to muster up a single argument, but have plenty of pejoratives at their disposal.

Clark Hoyt says that Whelan leveled a “slippery innuendo” at Greenhouse, but doesn’t explain why. He says that Ed’s blog posts are “increasingly intemperate and personal attacks on Greenhouse” but doesn’t give a single example. He says Whelan’s complaints “feel . . . like bullying” rather than stemming from a concern for ethics. Bizarrely, he then acknowledges that Ed’s complaints have merit; readers should have been told she reported on a case where her husband filed an amicus brief. But, he reports, editor Bill Keller has decided not to take even the inadequate step of putting a disclosure in her online bio, where readers won’t see it anyway. Why not do that? “[I]t would appear to be a tacit rebuke in the face of a partisan assault.” And, you see, it’s more important to circle the wagons when a “partisan” makes a legitimate point, rather than acting to correct it.

Meanwhile, Bazelon and Lithwick agree that Whelan is a “bully” who is “inclined to trashing professional reputations,” but can’t muster a single example of criticism by him that is actually unfair. They call his pointing out Greenhouse’s conflict a “petulant” claim, even though the ombudsman acknowledged that he thinks it was a legitimate claim. Bazelon and Lithwick claim Whelan has “slimed” them — and, as proof, link to an article of his with absolutely truthful and on-target criticism of them. (They don’t bother to try to refute it. Easier to say he “slimed” them.) Bazelon calls Ed a “hatchet man” in this blog post, linking to more legitimate criticism that she doesn’t even try to refute. Both say that Whelan is part of a litter of “right-wing kitty cats.” (I think they mean that to be an insult; I think it’s just weird.)

Meanwhile, Ed just keeps churning out posts that calmly refute all of these people’s falsehoods.

I suspect that I know why they’re mad at Ed. Ed is simply smarter than the lot of them, and his criticism really hits home, because it’s stated so eloquently and without the shrill screaming tone that they falsely accuse him of (but in reality use themselves). When you’re outclassed by someone who doesn’t pull his punches — and when you really don’t have the ability to respond with logic and reason — it hurts. You want to lash out. And that’s what they’ve done — the folks at the New York Times and the folks at Slate both.

In a way, they really aren’t worth Ed’s time, because all of these people are so clearly Ed’s inferiors — in intellect, in the way they conduct themselves, and in their dishonesty with their readers. But I selfishly enjoy watching him plug away at them, and watching them insult him back. Because the shriller they get, the calmer he gets — and the more foolish they look. The contrast doesn’t make Hoyt, Bazelon, and Lithwick look good to anyone but their most rabid leftist fans, who will lap up anything they say as long as it’s shrill criticism of a conservative.

To the rest of us, it’s clear they’re just embarrassing themselves. If I were their friend, I’d tell them to stop digging a hole.

Since I’m not, I say: thanks for the clownish entertainment. Keep it up!

8 Responses to “Ed Whelan: The Only Intemperate Partisan Bully I Know Who Is Unfailingly Calm, Reasoned, and Rational”

  1. It is simply amazing what tortured logic some people will use to try to defend the indefensible. As you point out, it is also quite humorous in many cases. I suspect those people would become quite angry if they knew I was laughing at them, but they need to take some classes in logic.

    Fritz (13ab3e)

  2. Bazelon and Lithwick utilize the logical fallacies that stand for reasonable argument in liberal circles.

    The charge that Whelan unfairly singled out Greenhouse is a red herring. It does not address the specific detailed criticisms Whelan has made. It is a distraction, and it has worked – Whelan ends up defending something that is irrelevant. Even if he has singled her out, is what he said true?

    Calling Whelan a bully and a hatchet man is an ad hominem attack. I bet he is fat too, and that would be no more relevant to the argument. Name calling is a great distraction. Now you are thinking about fat people, not conflicts of interest.

    Finally, they use straw men. They put words in his mouth and attack them – he trashed her professional reputation, he slimed her. Once again, we waste text trying to say that he didn’t say what they said he said – an uphill battle. And the emotion-laden statements have already done their distracting work.

    The fallacies come thick and fast when the real argument sticks. Unfortunately, the fallacies work. People are not trained to react reasonably, they are trained to react emotionally.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  3. Patterico, you should be more careful about utilizing the term “ad hominem.” The writers at Slate and Hoyt are not attacking Whelan and avoiding the substance of the argument, so much as they are dismissing the arguments of Whelan for a lack of substance and questioning his true motivations for attacking Greenhouse. This is not an “ad hominem” attack, whether you agree with them or not.

    Xanthippas (296e6f)

  4. What is it you legal eagles say about “truth is an affirmative defense”?
    He should ignore the ad hominen attacks, and just repeat the truth, over and over again.
    As long as truth is the weapon he uses, the only reputations that will suffer, will be those of his critics.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  5. Xanthippas, perhaps you should review the logical fallacy of assuming your conclusion, i.e., begging the question.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  6. You cut right to the heart of this incident. Posts like this are why I read

    DRJ (517d26)

  7. In a trial or appellate courtroom, where there are clear-cut rules of debate, the methodical, patient, inexorable advocacy (truth-telling) of someone like Mr. Whelan will almost always carry the day against a cute, glib, scatter-shot opponent.

    The lack of structure, referee, or binding adjudication in internet debates permits the cute, glib, and scatter-shot to claim victory when an objective observer would conclude they’ve lost. They dance back to their echo-chambers, high-fiving righteously and huffing contemptuously at us troglodites.

    In their world-view, someone who calmly and relentlessly marshals factual arguments must be a “bully.” In my world-view, he’s a champion.

    Beldar (ea7dca)

  8. Hmm. “Troglodyte,” I meant. Now that’s an embarrassing typo.

    Beldar (ea7dca)

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