Matt Yglesias got into a little bit of trouble over the weekend by posting an Yglesias-like swipe at the Third Way
. This would be unremakable, were it not for the fact that acting CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund Jennifer Palmieri comandeered
authored a guest-post on Matt's blog and wrote the following
Most readers know that the views expressed on Matt’s blog are his own and don’t always reflect the views of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Such is the case with regard to Matt’s comments about Third Way. Our institution has partnered with Third Way on a number of important projects - including a homeland security transition project - and have a great deal of respect for their critical thinking and excellent work product. They are key leaders in the progressive movement and we look forward to working with them in the future.
This action has provoked a fair amount of blog reaction/rebuke -- check out William Beutler
, Brad DeLong
, Belle Waring
, Ann Althouse
, James Joyner
, Brendan Nyhan
, Julian Sanchez
, and many more
-- as well as follow-up posts from Yglesias himself
and CAP's Faiz Shakir
Yglesias gets the understatement of the day
: "I wish the guest post from Jennifer Palmieri that I put up Sunday evening had been handled differently in a variety of ways since just sticking it on the blog and then going to bed seems to have given people a lot of misleading notions about the site being somehow 'hijacked.'”
As near as I can figure it, bloggers are very annoyed at the Center for American Progress, but they're angry for two very different reasons:
- What Palmieri did appears to infringe on Yglesias' independence as a blogger. To quote Nyhan: "There's no way that this sort of reaction won't create a chilling effect on Yglesias. How could he not think twice about criticizing Third Way or other CAP partners in the future?"
- What Palmieri did was politically ham-handed. It would have been much better if she had taken Yglesias aside and leaned on him in a much more quiet but politically effective manner. [Where's Karl Rove when you need him?--ed. Quiet, you.]
On the first point... meh. Way too many bloggers are giving Yglesias a pass on this. He is the one who chose to move from the Atlantic to CAP, and he did so because he wanted to advance a political agenda rather than continue to be an observer on the sidelines. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- but this is clearly an example of one of the downsides that come with that move.
Regardless of how many follow-up posts he writes on the Third Way
, the scar ain't going away anytime soon. He claims that, "all [Palmieri] was doing was reiterating what’s always been the case — I’m posting un-screened posts on an un-edited blog and covering every issue under the sun." Similarly, Shakir writes that, "Palmieri’s post was meant to clarify that ThinkProgress blogs don’t speak for the entire institution all the time — as has always been the policy."
Well, since this was so manifestly clear to anyone inside the Beltway who knows what the word "blog" means, then why did Palmieri feel like her little post was even necessary? Will Palmieri be posting "clarifications" like this every
time Yglesias deviates from the official CAP line?
Politico's Ben Smith
gets at this point clearly:
The reason an online jab gets elevated like this is that CAP is no longer just a think tank: It's interwoven with the transition, and expected to be close to the Obama White House. The perception that it was hostile to Third Way could have damaged Third Way's ability to raise money, among other things.
It's an early sign of how the new Democratic infrastructure faces a new set of challenges with Democrats controlling the government.
Glenn Reynolds has a point here
: "Sorry, if you can’t stand what bloggers blog, don’t pretend you’re cool enough to hire bloggers." Or, if you allow "clarifications" on posts that deviate from your parent institutions' views, don't pretend that you're a cool blogger any more.
UPDATE: I see that Palmieri is being considered for assistant secretary of defense for public affairs
. While Palmieri is getting a little too much blame for an act that Yglesias was complicit in, I have to think that this whole brouhaha is not a point in her favor. For sheer theater value, however, I would love
for this to come up in a confirmation hearing: "Ms. Palmieri, I'd like to bring up the CAPping incident with Mr. Yglesias...."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Uh-oh... it's spreading