The topic on Reliable Sources today was the hateful comments and emails women receive because of their blogs. Kurtz had on Mary Katherine Ham from Townhall.com along with Arianna Huffington and Joan Walsh of Salon. As soon as Ham's turn came up---she immediately attacked Arianna and then played the conservative victim card---what a shock there. Watch the clip...
HAM: I disagree just a little bit. I think it is easy to say that this is a problem of both sides without realizing that there, despite Arianna's obvious comportment and elegance on TV that there are some serious monkeys hanging from the rafters over on the left side of the blogosphere.
HUFFINGTON: Absolutely. I think it is really amazing that people like Michelle and others are really trying to make that a left-right thing. I read everything Joan wrote on the subject, and there wasn't a single thing that singled out progressive women bloggers. It was all about women.
And the idea that this is a left-wing phenomenon is just laughable, absolutely laughable. I mean, the most toxic women on TV practically is Anne Coulter, who is solidly on the right, who talks about rat poison for Judge Stevens, who talks about The New York Times journalists needing to be executed. I mean, this is the kind of absolutely toxic vile talk. And she is not even anonymous. So please, you know, let's stop this absurd idea that this has anything to do with the progressive blogosphere.
Didn't the FBI look into Charles Johnson's LGF? Howie couldn't help himself and had to bring up the Cheney comments on the Huff Post and then guess who else he took care of? Come on, you can do it.---Malkin! It would be nice if Howie put into context who Michelle really is, but that's asking for a lot. Something along the lines of----John Kerry shot himself to get a purple heart and she wrote a book defending the Japanese internment camps among other things, which the CNN audience would very likely be appalled to hear about. (full transcript below the fold)
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KURTZ: Sierra's experience touched a nerve for other female
bloggers and commentators. Joining us now to explore the subject, from
Portland, Oregon, Joan Walsh, editor of salon.com, who wrote a piece
titled "Men Who Hate Women on the Web." In Los Angeles, Arianna
Huffington, the founder and frequent opinion-monger of
huffingtonpost.com. And in New York, Mary Katherine Ham, who blogs at
Joan Walsh, what kind of verbal abuse have you personally gotten and
how does it affect you?
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SALON.COM: Well, you know, when I
started at Salon, it was the height of impeachment and Salon was know
for criticizing the Starr investigation and everything else.
And I was really shocked because I had been working in journalism
for about 15 years, and I had never seen anything like it. It was all
in e-mail, but it was very sexualized, I was frequently compared to
Monica Lewinsky for anything vaguely positive I wrote about the president.
And even worse, much more -- very graphic, very demeaning. And it
wasn't until we automated our letters and allowed our readers to write
directly and publish on our site that I began to see these things that
had only been in my in-box appear on Salon.
And you know, I want to make clear it is a tiny, tiny minority of
comments. I want to make clear that what I have said to my women
writers is, you have to be tough. You can't let it bother you.
But after Kathy Sierra, I thought it was really time for me to be
more honest about the way it has affected both me as well as several
women -- many women at Salon, to be honest.
KURTZ: Right. Let me get Arianna in here. Do you get sexually
explicit attacks and threats and especially since starting your Web site?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, BLOG EDITOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: You know, I
have gotten attacks and everything. I had a column, very often, you
know, they would tear the column out of the newspaper write expletives
on it and mail it to me.
And I think what happens on the Internet is the anonymity provides a
cloak. And any kind of vile thinking or hatred can be expressed for
everybody to see. Now at the Huffington Post we moderate comments on
the blog. So these comments will not appear.
We believe that if we are going to invite people to blog, we need to
offer them a kind of civil environment. So we have moderators 24-7
filtering those comments out. We don't do that in the news yet,
although we probably will just because it is impossible, if you are
going to allow just a tiny, as Joan said, minority of your readers to
actually dominate the tone of the debate, to have an interesting, civil
And on that point, Arianna, this has been a problem on conservative
sites, it is a problem on liberal sites, it is a problem on
washingtonpost.com, a minority of people boasting racist or really
For example, when there was that suicide bomber in Afghanistan, and
Vice President Cheney was there, some of the commenters on your site
said: "Dr. Evil escapes again, damn." In other words, they were
disappointed that Cheney wasn't killed. It was pretty horrifying stuff.
HUFFINGTON: And we immediately took them down. And which we do on
the new site, we take them down after they appear. But on the blog
side, they never appear because...
MARY KATHERINE HAM, BLOGGER, TOWNHALL.COM: Well, they were up long
enough for people to notice, that is for sure.
HUFFINGTON: Yes, and there are many of those comments that appear
on right-wing sites and there are many of those comments that appear on
YouTube. It is very important to realize this is not about right-left.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, absolutely not.
HUFFINGTON: I think you can be a 10-year-old little girl that sings
her favorite song on YouTube and the first comment there will be "you
suck, you can't sing, go kill yourself now." This has nothing to with
politics. It has to do with the basest instincts of human nature. And
we need to address it correctly.
HAM: I disagree just a little bit. I think it is easy to say that
this is a problem of both sides without realizing that there, despite
Arianna's obvious comportment and elegance on TV that there are some
serious monkeys hanging from the rafters over on the left side of the
And Michelle Malkin has been getting the C-word and the W-word in
her in-box for years. And the same folks who wish for Cheney to be
assassinated online are saying, you know, that Condi is a -- is brown
sugar or, you know, a house slave.
So I think that they -- there really is a problem on the left side
of the blogosphere with some of...
KURTZ: I will get to Michelle Malkin in a moment. But Mary
Katherine Ham, I happened to stumble across a comment that was posted to
something that you had online. And it said that the biggest reason you
have any fame whatsoever is that you are an attractive female,
attractive but likely awkward in bed.
KURTZ: And then it went on to say some things that I can't repeat
on the air. How do you deal with that?
HAM: Well, on YouTube I think -- I believe that is where that
comment is. I generally try to stay away from the YouTube comments.
And I also don't usually censor them on YouTube because I think that
they show themselves to be exactly what they are when you see that kind
of nastiness which just like you said, you can't even repeat on TV.
So I let it roll off my back. I think it is very important for
women on both sides of the aisle and in various ventures to, you know,
stay tough and to not let these bullies, you know, make them back down.
KURTZ: Right. Now, Joan Walsh, we talked just a moment ago about
Michelle Malkin. She is the conservative blogger and FOX News
commentator who says some inflammatory things but has really gotten some
vicious feedback, some of it racist.
Here is what she wrote in response to your column in Salon: "Some
women are more equal than others in the eyes of the progressive female
progressive blogosphere because we have betrayed feminism, because we
hold unorthodox political views on abortion, government race/gender
preferences, education, the war, and taxes. And because we reject
identity politics, we are not authentic women and we deserve what we get
and we just don't count."
Her point is that you had not complained about this phenomenon when
the conservatives are on the receiving end.
WALSH: Oh, come on, Howie. I mean, I'm sorry that I didn't say
something about Michelle Malkin. Certainly she doesn't deserve that
treatment, but she has gotten plenty of attention for it. I wasn't
suggesting that it only happens to progressive women or that when it
happens to progressive women, it matters.
The really interesting thing for me was that Kathy Sierra is a tech
blogger. She is blogging about making software better for people. She
is blogging about making the Web a better community, not about politics,
not about Dick Cheney, not about Condi Rice. And she is getting the
same kind of sexualized belittling comments. So that is what really
jumped out at me. I certainly would never say that what Michelle
endures is acceptable at all.
HUFFINGTON: Absolutely. I think it is really amazing that people
like Michelle and others are really trying to make that a left-right
thing. I read everything Joan wrote on the subject, and there wasn't a
single thing that singled out progressive women bloggers. It was all
And the idea that this is a left-wing phenomenon is just laughable,
absolutely laughable. I mean, the most toxic women on TV practically is
Anne Coulter, who is solidly on the right, who talks about rat poison
for Judge Stevens, who talks about The New York Times journalists
needing to be executed. I mean, this is the kind of absolutely toxic
vile talk. And she is not even anonymous. So please, you know, let's
stop this absurd idea that this has anything to do with the progressive
HAM: Well, the fact remains that we are doing a segment on CNN now
that a politically neutral blogger has come into play when conservative
women have been facing this for a long time. And I think...
WALSH: And liberal women have been facing it for a long time.
HAM: ... it is supremely ironic that the left decides to pay
attention to these things only then. I think there is a special kind of
abuse reserved for women who don't know their place, which let's you
think is in the Democratic Party.
WALSH: I really resent that comment. I think that is absolutely
not fair at all. We would never defend a sexist attack on right-wing or
a conservative female blogger. That is not what this is about at all.
HAM: I'm not saying that you defend it. I'm just saying that it
goes politely unnoticed a lot of the time.
WALSH: I guess what I -- I guess the point of my piece, though, was
to say that I was trying to not notice what was happening to me or what
was happening to my writers or what was happening to Arianna or her
bloggers or you or Michelle Malkin and to really stand above it and say,
I'm not going to let those sexists get me down.
And what happened to Kathy Sierra made me take it seriously in the
political blogosphere. But it is not matter of left or right.
KURTZ: As the lone male on this panel, I'm going to jump in here.
WALSH: Thank you, come on in.
KURTZ: I have been writing about this for some time. And I have
seen this on both the left and the right. It does seem particularly
aimed at women, particularly personal, particularly hurtful. And it is
a problem that all of us are struggling with.
Anonymous comments are a problem for the entire blogosphere, (I have a lot of very cool people trying to keep the threads under control here) but do not represent bloggers. Women are attacked viciously online and it shouldn't happen. For the media, these anonymous comments are a story because they are ignorant about what they represent---or use it as a wedge issue to attack blogs the way Kurtz did to Arianna...Ham's motives are quite clear---paint the left as loony and the right as saints...She does know better, but the truth doesn't seem that important to her...