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New York Times’ Charles M. Blow’s Disappointing Insult To Bloggers

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Late Tuesday night, in what he labeled a “revelation,” New York Times’ visual op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow unleashed a disappointing insult to bloggers, comparing them to karaoke singers. Blow, whose work I admire greatly, and with whom I have publicly engaged, and publicly credited with bringing the civil rights abuses of New York City’s Police Department’s “stop and frisk” outrage to light, truly misunderstands blogging and the thousands of smart, credible, and passionate journalists who have chosen the blogging platform as their niche. Charles Blow owes not only his fellow bloggers at the New York Times — but more importantly, the hardworking and usually low-paid political, independent, professional blogging community — an apology.

Blow, Tuesday night, wrote via Twitter:

I’m pretty certain most professional singers don’t hold karaoke singers in high regard, so this isn’t a case of projection. Professional singers may not dislike karaoke singers — they may even get gratification hearing them enjoy themselves — but there’s no question that professional singers overall don’t place karaoke singers at their level. Which is the point Blow was making: I’m better than bloggers. I’m a writer. There’s a difference. Perhaps seeing a few angry tweets, Blow that night appeared to attempt to backtrack, and responded to one angry follower, John S. Wilson, with, “heard an amazing karaoke sing tonight & thought wow: sometimes you just need a stage and a mic bc you want to sing w/o pressure,” and then attempted to explain it all away, writing, simply, “l blog.” Wilson, as his Twitter bio states, is a contributing writer for Black Enterprise, Mediaite, the Huffington Post, Politic 365, and the founder of Policy Diary, so perhaps Blow felt obligated to walk back his comments a bit. Here are Blow’s tweets, and my one-way response:[<a href=”http://storify.com/davidbadash/ny-times-charles-m-blow-s-amazing-insult-to-blogge” target=”_blank”>View the story “NY Times’ Charles M. Blow’s Amazing Insult To Bloggers” on Storify</a>]<br /> <h1>NY Times’ Charles M. Blow’s Amazing Insult To Bloggers</h1> <h2></h2> <p>Storified by David Badash · Wed, Aug 15 2012 15:01:47  </p> <div>Revelation: karaoke is to singers what blogging is to writers #thatisallCharles M. Blow</div> <div>And I blog. But it’s a chance to say something but a much more informal. Sometimes you just need a stage…Charles M. Blow</div> <div>@PruneJuiceMedia not a knock. It’s just very democratic and less formal. I blog myself. It’s great when you have something to express…Charles M. Blow</div> <div>@JohnWilson l blogCharles M. Blow</div> <div>@JohnWilson heard an amazing karaoke sing tonight & thought wow: sometimes you just need a stage and a mic bc you want to sing w/o pressureCharles M. Blow</div> <div>@BeckyGMartinez certainly not the way it was meant…Charles M. Blow</div> <div>.@CharlesMBlow says a highly-compensated NYTimes writer who needn’t worry about advertising, traffic, running a business, helping community.David Badash</div> <div>.@CharlesMBlow My respect for you aside, bloggers accomplish more in a day than a NYTimes writer does in a month. That was unfair, wrong.David Badash</div> <div>.@CharlesMBlow You saying, “I blog” is like me telling Michael Phelps, “I swim.” You truly have no idea what real bloggers do every day.David Badash</div> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p>Blow truly has no idea what professional bloggers do. And while I have never liked the label “blogger,” apparently it fits the genre of my work, which, in November, will mark the beginning of my fifth year as a professional blogger.

Most professional bloggers I know, including me, work 12-18 hours a day, and often seven days a week. Practically not an hour goes by, if we’re awake, that we’re not working.

I publish on average 10-12 articles a day, and about four each weekend day. The vast majority average 500-750 words, though some are shorter, and a great many longer. I am blessed to have about 20 folks who contribute to our site, although 90% of the posts I write myself.

Bloggers break news. We’re often the “go-to” source for many readers. Bloggers have been known to take down politicians, expose wrongdoing and hypocrisy, and, frankly, tell truth to power in situations that even the New York Times wouldn’t.

On top of all this, we generally work alone. Usually for most of us, certainly for me, there’s no secretary, assistant, or even intern.

We deal with hundreds of emails a day, including requests for ad pricing from potential clients, requests from heavily funded non-profits for free ads, requests from publishers to review books, requests from distraught citizens for information or to highlight their unjust plight, demands for one-on-one debates from readers who have an opposing point of view, hate mail, and requests from every PR person imaginable to do a story on the client or product they get paid to rep that we wouldn’t get paid to write about. Of course, then there are the countless press releases…

Daily, bloggers are writers, editors, researchers, photographers and photo editors, reporters, graphic designers, advertising salespeople, social media directors, public relations directors, and accountants. We are, in fact, small business owners.

And we are obsessed with producing quality content that will interest readers and expand our audience.

But then, of course, there are the personal reasons we chose advocacy journalism and running a “blog” to begin with.

For me, I decided to start The New Civil Rights Movement within mere hours of California’s Prop 8 passing in 2008. If you’ve ever had a calling, if you’ve ever experienced a life-changing event, you’ll understand when I say, Prop 8 was mine.

And so, at the end of every day, which is usually after midnight, I often think about all the stories I wanted to write about that I just didn’t have time to cover.

For a writer, for a journalist, that’s a pretty tough thing to deal with on a daily basis, knowing there are good and important stories that don’t get told, and people I could help, issues I could expose, information I could share, that I just didn’t have time to because I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.

Meanwhile, working those 12+ hours every day nets most bloggers not a big income (despite the fact that here at The New Civil Rights Movement, we’re rapidly approaching one million hits a month, paying the rent isn’t easy.) Certainly not what we can all assume is the hefty six-figure salary with benefits, a 401(k), and possibly an assistant, that, say a New York Times op-ed writer earns — and, no doubt deserves.

So, Mr. Blow, when you disparage bloggers as karaoke singers, you’re disparaging people who work hard, are small business owners, and wear far more hats than you do at your job. Blogging isn’t “fun,” it’s not a way to express yourself, it’s hard work and it’s work that only pays when you publish. A day off means several day’s worth of lost ad revenue. There are no paid sick days. No paid vacations. No 401(k). No company-funded medical insurance (I pay about $700 a month on my plan.) No company car. No company cell phone. No company tech department to fix our computers. No water cooler talk.

We don’t have the luxuries you do, nor the resources you do, yet speaking for myself, I can’t imagine doing anything else, because my number one goal is to help my community, help people understand what we’re fighting for, and advance equality.

Blogging is hard work. Bloggers change hearts and minds. We help inform the public. And we have earned, and deserve, far more respect than Charles M. Blow, and others, give us.

Mr. Blow did not respond to an email requesting comment on this article.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Thinly-Veiled Incitement to Violence and Overt Racism’: Trump’s Truth Social Post Sparks Outrage

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Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” but on Friday night took his social media approach to his Truth Social website.

Trump accused Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of having a “death wish” after a government shutdown was averted.

“Must immediately seek help and advise (sic) from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” he said of Elaine Chao, who served in his cabinet for four years as Secretary of Transportation.

Trump’s post generated outrage online.

“Nothing to see here,” conservative lawyer George Conway tweeted. “Just a former president of the United States seeking to incite violence against the minority leader of the United States Senate and launching a racist verbal attack on the leader’s wife.”

Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu wrote, “Donald Trump using blatant racist tactics in his desperate attacks on McConnell by trying to ridicule Asian American former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s name calling her ‘Coco Chow’ — [McConnell] and [GOP] should call him out and reject his racist hate — will they do it?”

“Hardly shocking that Trump would threaten Mitch McConnell by capitalizing the words ‘death wish’ — dog whistle invitation to Trump’s extremist supporters — same Trump who believed his own VP Pence deserved to be lynched by the angry Jan. 6 mob Trump incited to violence,” Wu added.

Janai Nelson, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, wrote, “I double dare all major media outlets to call this what it is: thinly-veiled incitement to violence and overt racism.”

Podcaster Fred Wellman said, “Elaine Chao was Trump’s Secretary of Transportation for 4 years and he just called her the ridiculously racist nickname ‘Coco Chow.’ Yes…you are a racist if you still support this broken *sshole.”

Jonah Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Dispatch, wrote, “Look, I think the gross bigotry, stupidity, dishonesty, and demagoguery of this is obvious on so many levels and I’m embarrassed for the country. But, because no one else will, I feel I have to point out he also misspelled advice.”

 

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Republicans suggest defunding Veteran Affairs even though it helps 9 million vets

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Republican legislators are starting to suggest defunding the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the office founded in 1989 to assist with veteran needs. The VA assists with getting veterans mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, community support, and other everyday housing and living needs.

An Arizona legislator, captured on video participating in a mock congressional hearing, said he supported shutting down the department.

“That’s sort of what I’m thinking because … I hear no good stories. I had zero in my district,” the legislator said in a video posted by the far-right watchdog group Patriot Takes. “So I guess it’s a matter of us leading the fight to defund it.”

A second video, posted by the same account, showed Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz advocating for defunding the VA while speaking at an event held by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group.

“This is my question to the group. Is it savable? Why not abolish the VA, take all of the money that we are otherwise spending and go to an any willing provider system inside of our communities?” Gaetz says in the video. “And then, if people get bad care, they can vote with their feet and you don’t have a two-tier system of healthcare in this country with our veterans and then with everyone else.”

Generally speaking, Republican policies favor the privatization of all government functions, thinking that a “small government,” “free-market,” “for-profit” privatization provided by a corporation can solve any market ill.

In reality, if entire communities are deprived of VA access, U.S. military veterans will be left largely on their own to get their life needs met after military service. Those who lack money or transportation won’t be able to “vote with their feet” and find a local care provider to handle their specific issues… they’ll either have to spend massive amounts to get such essential care or just go without.

In late July, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill aimed at protecting veterans exposed to toxic materials during their military service. The legislation would have expanded care to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It would have also added 23 toxic and burn pit exposure-related illnesses to the VA database, Newsweek reported.

After massive blowback, Senate Republicans re-voted on the bill and helped it pass.

Patriot Takes posted the video hoping that it would encourage veterans and military members to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.

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'PRIORITIES'

Red states are lining up to stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

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Six red states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina — are suing the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden over Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for individuals making less than $125,000 a year.

The Biden administration based its plan on a 2003 law. According to the Justice Department, the law, initially meant to help military members, says that Biden can reduce or erase student loan debts during times of national emergency.

The red states’ lawsuit, filed Thursday in Missouri, said that Biden’s plan was “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers.” The lawsuit adds that, since Biden recently declared the COVID-19 pandemic as over, he can’t use it as a justification for his wide-scale debt relief plan, ABC News reported.

“It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said of her state’s lawsuit. “The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”

The states argued that Biden’s plan inflicted a “number of ongoing financial harms” to student loan providers and also “will ultimately disrupt revenue to state coffers.” They also argued that Biden’s plan violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a law regulating how federal agencies ensure that presidential policies are well-reasoned and explained, the aforementioned publication reported.

Despite these claims, the White House has said it will continue with its plan, confident it can survive a court challenge.

“Republican officials from these six states are standing with special interests, and fighting to stop relief for borrowers buried under mountains of debt,” White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said Thursday. “The president and his administration are lawfully giving working and middle class families breathing room as they recover from the pandemic and prepare to resume loan payments in January.”

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