Monday, January 28, 2008


Hey everyone. I just wanted to let you know that I posted my first thing over at Cynics' Party. It is of the hard hitting journalistic quality that you can come to expect from your Generalissimo (can I really call myself that now that you know who I am? Have I become an arrogant prick?). So please check out That French trader guy: Hot or not?
Hopefully this will get Comrade mw (dwsuwf) OFF MY FUCKING BACK ALREADY. I have heard tell that he/she is an intellectual libertarian, which... I will let y'all finish that thought.

Also, thanks to our ever fabulous travel guide Miss Expatria for finding this little gem on them there interwebs. I had never thought of myself as a fanboy in the classic sense of the word but I guess if the shoe fits...


Miss Expatria said...

I sent it to Megan and she's pissed because we uncovered her secret plan!

donzacatl said...

As long as you don't go the way of the last Generalissimo to cross my radar (the one of long ago SNL fame who was constantly "still dead"), I have no problem with according you the title in perpetuity - or at least for as long as you continue to crank out those CP articles. All hail the Generalissimo!

Viva la huelga said...

W has a weird thing up about banning people, and also asking for more comments. Don't everyone look! It's not that exciting.

BeRightBack said...

@ viva: Poor Jim. He's just trying maintain some semblence of order over there. Those executions were a good idea, if only because they were doing so much more damage to traffic than anything we ever did. Plus, how depressing were those ill-informed, unpunctuated flame wars that littered the Ted Kennedy post (plus: 2% of the remaining commentered seem to understand irony). Banning used to be a good Damoclesian Sword that kept people in line, but Denton's dream of turning Gawker Media into Facebook For FauxPoMoHomos eliminated that imperative. Wonkette is kind of caught in the middle, trying to preserve its editorial identity while Gawker congratulates itself for becoming the mewling, lurching hybrid child of TMZ and Maureen Dowd's dream journal. And Jim is on the front lines of that battle, and I think he's doing the best he possibly can without just quitting outright. I've knocked him before, but reading that post and the subsequent thread made me like him much more, since his writing was actually really funny and the commenter response was so deeply stupid (for the most part).

But revolution is no tea party, as Mao says. Viva the Cynics!

nojo said...

I prefer Commandante HF because it sounds more radical.

Meanwhile, at Party HQ -- wow! One week we're holding a wake, the next week it's a housewarming. All those familiar names, before and after the jumps, doing what the Good Lord intended.

I think a lot of credit goes to HF for spearheading the original protest that turned into a revolution. Salud!

Anonymous said...

I think our own Il Duce deserves all the lovin he can get for helping bridge the gap to this, our current annus cinicum (sorry, latin was never my strength).

al frente con el Frente!

Lyndon LaDouche said...

Just so long as I can still call you 'Sir', Sir.

Hot Tip said...

Here's an amusing/scary YouTube I'd normally send to YT, but am now giving to youse for Cynics'.

louisev said...

you were just fine, Generalissimo sweetie, now write another one!

newell said...

@berightback: I checked in to see what was going on here, and saw this:

"Banning used to be a good Damoclesian Sword that kept people in line, but Denton's dream of turning Gawker Media into Facebook For FauxPoMoHomos eliminated that imperative. Wonkette is kind of caught in the middle, trying to preserve its editorial identity while Gawker congratulates itself for becoming the mewling, lurching hybrid child of TMZ and Maureen Dowd's dream journal."

I appreciate that you're... trying to say something nice about me here, but I have absolutely no idea what Facebook For FauxPoMoHomos really means and how it relates to swords or a flurry of annoying commenters. It's kind of funny, everyone loves to point any development on DENTON -- this is a manifestation of DENTON and his PAGE VIEWS! Not to belittle what you're saying, but it's such an odd obsession that he is behind every little thing! I've met him once, at the Christmas party. Otherwise he sends a tip every now and then. He's pretty busy doing his Gawker now, which I don't read because I'm not interested.

That was a longer intro than planned. Yes: don't think the barbarian tribes are toppling over wonkette while some of our lovely, prolific commenters are in exile. The necessary purge today can be blamed on three solid reasons: 1) most importantly, Ken and I just haven't been watching the pending comments filter very closely (read: not really at all) and have been lenient out of laziness. There are always these crazies trying to get in, but it does take a bit of monitoring. 2) When Barry's gotten such a big victory by uniting all races and blah blah, and he gives the speech of a century, people are going to get MIGHTY sensitive when we respond with an even more aggressive "Haha, how black is Barry 'Son of a Luo Tribesman' Obama" line. And then when Obama people get sensitive, the closet Clinton supporters go crazy and defend their Billary, and it's WAR. So fun! But stressful. 3) I've been writing a bunch of, um, snarkless election takes myself in the comments and that's setting a bad example. But this Clinton-Obama spin game, and the potential transfers of power at play -- it's hard to tame the nerdy side. Don't you people like seriousness or whatever anyway?

Anyway, I'm glad you like me now, but don't feel sorry for me. Massive cultural forces are clashing somewhere on the internet, but not Wonkette. I got to write some of the most fun and sometimes even interesting stuff today that I have since maybe I started.

BeRightBack said...

Newell: Hi! I wasn't expecting such a detailed response!

As you can tell, I was as much a Gawker reader as a Wonketteer, and was much more a commenter over there than on Wonkette (though I read it since Ana's time). The upgrades in commenter networking tech came with the abolition of public executions and commenter approval, which seems to have been part of a plan to integrate the sites and make them more porous as communities to drop-by readers while heightening the level of interaction between commenters themselves (like a pseudo-snooty version of Facebook). This decision at Gawker had a ripple effect on other sites, including Wonkette, though admittedly you guys never really executed the way Gawker did. This opening out into world seems to have encouraged worse commenting at the same time as commenters seem to feel that blocking commenting privileges is, like, actual censorship or something.

So I don't mean to say Denton did something directly to Wonkette; obviously he didn't. But the shift in business model at Gawker has had effects across its other properties, and increased editorial turnover and an erosion of a feeling of community amongst its readers are two. At Big Gawker, it has also resulted in an erosion of editorial identity, I feel, and I saw what you were doing today at Wonkette as an attempt to assert an identity once more, both editorially and over your commenter community.

Thassall. Good luck, I'm sure things will restabilize. I'm glad you are happy.

BeRightBack said...

I should add: I know that the tech upgrade facilitated the very sense of commenter community that I see being eroded now; it was not a devilish problem in and of itself, and indeed, it was an improvement. There's just something weird and icky about then turning around and treating those who take advantage of this functionality and the affect it produces like delusional geekwads with no lives for caring about it when editorial and other decisions interfere with the continued production of that affect. Basically, I'm getting something somewhere else now that I used to get at Gawker/Wonkette, and that makes me sad re: them, but hopeful about these other, budding communities. That's really the long and the short of it.

newell said...

@berightback: The big push in commenting is something I love, but it creates strange situations like these -- exactly how much editorial power does this put into the hands of commenters, and can't that become a dangerous thing? Are editors beholden to certain commenters -- due to this unusual proximity and consistent participation -- that demand more transparency from them at times, types of transparency that go beyond the standard boundaries of the editor-reader relationship? At Gawker as opposed to "old media," these demands are always right in the editor's face and in real-time; it's tempting just to cave into every vocal faction's demands as a visceral reaction, but in the long-run, that kind of transfer of power can erode the editor's control over the management of the blog, which is something -- at least at this point with Gawker -- that is still unacceptable to lose.

When any sort of drastic or even minor change is brought to any publication, there will always be different factions of readers upset for different reasons. Newspapers and magazines etc. listen to reader reactions and questions through the formal processes of an isolated newsroom; they take in a wide range of feedback over an extended period of time and react to the full spectrum of voices after considering how they do, or don't, compromise the editor's authority.

At a Gawker blog, one faction may yell more vocally in your face (internet-wise, ya know) in real-time, so the editor has to be constantly aware that you can't give every group what they want, right when they want it, just because it feels right at the time -- if it becomes a habit, some of the editor's rightful authority, vision and control over the blog becomes lost and never returns. That said, if you're in an upset faction at a Gawker blog and you don't find the editor meeting your demands right away, it doesn't mean the editor isn't taking your opinion into account -- it's just these responses and strategies have to be considered on a longer scale that can seem like eternity in the skewed minute-by-minute world of our commenting system. There are many voices, and many opinions, and not every one can be met at all times. Certain commenters de facto carry more weight based on regularity of participation, but they are still readers in the end and are not entitled to some sort of extra sway over the editor's rightful decisions.

People leave or stop buying certain brands when they don't like a company's decisions. That's normal. It's unusual, however, to expect and demand that the company do what they say, and that if they don't, it's some sort of personal injustice.

Sorry to sound like a philosophy grad student. But I hope that resonates and makes sense, and again, thanks!

Homofascist said...

Jim - I appreciate your thoughtful and lengthy explanations about this, but I am not quite sure it accurately reflects what we were trying to do. While I am sure there were individual exceptions, I don't think any of us collectively made specific demands about "what we wanted Wonkette to do" about this situation. We didn't ask collectively for Megan to be rehired. We didn't ask collectively for Ken to be fired. I mean, HELLO, I wrote in my second post on this blog and I quote “We need to be realistic - Megan is not going back to Wonkette, and I don’t think we could expect her to after this bullshit.” How is that trying to influence editorial control? I tried to be very clear that I understood Megan's firing to be a decision that Ken had a right to make in keeping with his new position back at Wonkette. Our goal was to send a message that many of us felt it was short-sighted at best and detrimental to the blog at worst and that it could affect a modest but vocal portion of dedicated readers/participants. If it sent a message to management great, and if not well we would have decisions to make. For many of us that decision was made when I did ask for a rather simple statement of the future of Wonkette and pretty much got a fuck you in reply. I in turn gave my own fuck you right back and I have moved on. I am glad you are no longer taking this personally and can come back to us in defense of Ken and Wonkette and make a very thought out (if inaccurate) statement about our attempts to influence editorial control. Considering that I know that you were nearly fired yourself I must say I am pretty amazed by this. But I have absolutely no interest and there are others that feel the same. I am truly sorry for the loss. But you'll get new people and we'll go off and make our own fun and that is just the way it is.

And don’t get lazy about policing the Paultards. They will take over before you know it.

newell said...

@homofascist: I'll make this very brief so that I actually get some sleep tonight. I'm not here trying to get people to come back to Wonkette, I'm not here defending the group I work for, I'm not here espousing whatever opinions Ken may hold. This is entirely what I believe to be true, and I'm only analyzing the same public information you are. I was responding to berightback, who for some reason assumed I was just trying to hold things together until I found a good time to quit. But as far as what people deserve, or what people are entitled to, that's not just in reference to the desire for Megan get her job back. Or the desire for an apology, or an explanation, straight down the line to a single word from the editor. I don't want to generalize the group, but many, many individuals wrote such things as "don't we deserve, aren't we kind of entitled to a single enlightening word on the matter from Ken Layne since we're prolific, well-known commenters that play an active role in the appeal of the site." And the answer is no. If an editor doesn't want to discuss the circumstances of an internal personnel decision -- very standard practice -- then there's no gray area. You do, or you don't, and it doesn't matter who asks. Even though you were offended by the manner of Ken's response, there was only one person in there who could interpet an ad hominem attack, and that's Megan. There was no 'fuck you' to the commenters. It was a different iteration of the same arguments I've been making -- that there is no duty whatsoever to discuss an internal situation, no matter how cushy the terms were you offered. If you took that as a 'fuck you' towards yourself and other commenters -- that you asked for even a single word of clarity on things that are considered company information -- then that's a reaction to a feeling of entitlement. That's the lowest common denominator of what you felt you deserved, and he wouldn't offer it. That is not just going out and wanting to see if you can make a difference, and when it doesn't work, boycotting the product. If that letter pissed you off because of the way it made Megan feel, then that is also a good reason to boycott. But there were beliefs that something was deserved to many of you, and because it didn't come, that's the reason you leave forever? That's a rebuke to these artificial (if understandably developed given the commenter system) senses of entitlement. Shit, that was much longer than intended.

Homofascist said...

@Jim. Again, I do appreciate your thoughts and they make a lot of sense.

But as the public face of this - whatever the fuck this is - I just don't completely agree. I literally wanted "this is my right as editor, I have a vision for where Wonkette is going to go, and I invite you back because I think you will like it." I wanted more of a matter-of-fact invitation back than an explanation of internal HR decisions. I did not ask for an explanation, I asked for a gesture. I offered a desire for resolution, not a desire for editorial control. If that makes me some kind of entitled bitch, then call MTV to film my next birthday party and call it "My Sweet 16x2". I'll wear a tiara and everything.

(Pssst - here is a secret. I will wear a tiara anyway)

Homofascist said...

I should add, all of this assumes that we are some kind of desired group of people to Wonkette and that our emails/comments/boycott were making a difference. Because of the time and effort many of us have put into Wonkette and this effort, I have to believe that both of these things are true. But of course I could be totally wrong, and that we are just the self-deluded squeaky wheel. To which I say, eh, whichever. I am pretty happy with the group of like minded people I have here.

nojo said...

@newell: Sorry to sound like a philosophy grad student.

Whoa, that's my turf, pal. And besides, you sound like a journalism grad student.

nojo said...

By the way, if you wanna know how most newspapers really incur the wrath of readers: Cancel a comic strip.

nojo said...

@newell: If an editor doesn't want to discuss the circumstances of an internal personnel decision — very standard practice — then there's no gray area.

That is, as we say at the seminar table, bullshit. An "internal personnel decision" is firing a geek at the mothership. Ken made an editorial decision, and both his and yours attempts to pass it off as a staffing question is just the kind of obfuscation we love to flame in the comments. Man up, and call it what it is.

newell said...

@nojo: Kisses!
* Oh now that is the gauntlet -- the JOURNALISM SCHOOL card. Well played, sir. I actively undorse that concept. At least if you're unemployed you're not *paying* to do nothing.
* This gets truer and truer as the newspaper demographic shifts upward. Younger people would probably be equally vocal if they ADDED a comic strip, stupid internet.
* He made an editorial decision. ... Hey, I feel just like I did before typing that!

@homofascist: Sorry if that came off as declaring you an entitled bitch, "entitled" does have some wretched "My Super Sweet Sixteen" connotations. It's just the most accurate word I could find during my 3 a.m. musings on the nature of editors and readers typing ridiculous things at each other, because it's on the internet. But congrats on being famous now! 2 blogs! At least something good came out of this for somebody. Although I had trouble looking at your picture and not superimposing bert and ernie.

nojo said...

@newell: And a sloppy Jim Lange back at ya!

I think the argument can be summed up thus: Management has a right to hire and fire whom it pleases, and readers have a right to get all pissy about it. No late-nite J-school theorizing required.

On the other hand...

But congrats on being famous now! 2 blogs!

You really don't want to go there, do you?

newell said...

@nojo: That's definitely true, but I only thought about it more because neither side was making sense to me. Now they do.

As for that other comment, Jesus, I was just saying that it's cool for him that he's writing on a couple of blogs now. I see your interpretation, but that's not at all what I meant.

nojo said...

@newell: Ah. Well damn, kid, I was really gearing up to tear you a new one. Now I'll have to take it out on the cat.

mw (DWSUWF) said...

Yes I am more comfortable with your rank than your nom de plum. Which I understand is your actual name. Which I'd prefer not to think about.

I just assumed that this site was going to fade away after the move to CP, but I check in to find it is still going and I have been called out in the post. No matter. I see you are posting at CP now, so my job here is done.

I prefer "libertarian leaning" in order to maintain plausible deniability about any association with the wackjobs.

Comment thread here is quite interesting. I put a comment somewhere on this site last week, outlining my read on Ken's motivations. I am not going to try and find it now, but that view did not change when I read Ken's note to you.

Net net. I think in general there is a complete misread of what transpired. It was a financial decision, that seems obvious from looking at the trends in traffic.They ramped up thinking the peak was a base. It wasn't, so they had to ramp back down. Ken was rehired both to try to boost the readership with his writing talent, and execute the layoff regardless. In the second role as corporate puke, part of job is to take the hit and pretend the decision is yours even if it is not. Just business. Just part of the game. I am saying this as an ex-corporate puke myself, who (over my long career) have been in a position to be a decider, executioner, and casualty of layoffs. It's always shitty, but you don't get the choice of continuing to lose money, unless you are getting a lot of investment.

To me , the most revealing line of Ken's note was this: "I certainly don't speak for the company...", which is as close as he can get to saying - it wasn't my idea, and still be doing his job as a corporate puke.

Anyway like I said before, I didn't know Ken, Megan or anyone else here except as an avatar. I enjoyed occasionally posting at Wonkette but did not have any sense of being part of a community as so many here clearly do. I just found the dynamic of the whole thing really interesting and fun. Of course, I do have a much better sense of the people in this community now. I just don't know if that is a good thing.

Anyway, It's a bad precedent for me to see those long comments Reinforces bad tendencies.

I'm sure I will go back to occasionally commenting at Wonkette at some point if I haven't been culled in the meantime. I'm not as prolific as others here so its a zero sum game, and time here and CP is time not at Wonkette.