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December 15, 2009

Panic at the Disco: Andrew Sullivan's Ghost-Bloggers Out Him

Andrew Sullivan once declared himself in the media the proprietor of "the most popular one-man blog on the internet."

One man?

Really?

His ghost-blogger -- that's right; it's come to this: ghost-blogging -- lets out the oh-so-sad truth:

As always, it a pleasure to step in while Andrew gets some much needed rest. Guest-blogging is not all that different than my day-to-day activities on the Dish – 24 of the 50 posts currently on the front page were written by me. All the substantive posts are Andrew's work, but it's my and Chris's job to read through the blogosphere and pick out the choicest bits. Andrew edits, approves, and spins what we find, but the illusion of an all-reading blogger is maintained by employing two extra sets of eyes.

Substantive posts = Trig Trutherism and anti-semitic conspiracy theories.

And the posts he is referring to are those printed before Sullivan's hiatus -- when Sullivan was supposedly posting all this material himself.

Now Andrew Sullivan is an excitable type feller, and he attracts an excitable type audience. So this revelation caused some great upset with his stupid readers, See, Andrew Sullivan whines endlessly that his blog's lapses into lunacy must be excused and overlooked, because his blog (unlike, um, no other blogs) is intensely "personal" and utterly "honest."

So his readers are a bit butthurt to discover half the blog isn't personal to Sullivan at all, and all of it is dishonest.

So here's the whining and back-pedaling. A mention that all is not forgiven among those once famously cadged into paying for Sullivan's supposed $100,000 bandwidth and site design costs:

Life As Part Of Sully's Brain

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

To learn that nearly half the posts on Andrew's blog are not his posts proper (but admittedly prepared under his aegis) is somewhat disheartening. I think the blog owes it to the readers and its own high standards to start putting bylines on all posts.

We tried bylines once and it made the blog read funny. Almost all the posts I write are naked links or excerpts, which makes Andrew a weather-vane in the gale of the larger debate.

I've marinated in Sullivan's cerebral juices for a few years now and know intuitively what he interested in and what to bring to his attention. If Chris and I were forced to byline the posts we write under Andrew's supervision, we would have to own those opinions and draw contrasts with Andrew, as we do when he takes vacations. Bylines would fracture the solitary voice of the blog.

Bylines would reveal the solitary voice of the blog is not the solitary voice of the blog. Is that what he means by "read funny"?

I've got bylines here; do they "read funny"? They don't read at all, half the time; a lot of the time, people don't even notice who is writing whose posts.

This is, simply, a fiction, a lie. Bylines don't make blogs read funny anymore than author's bylines in collections of fiction make the collection "read funny" -- unless by "read funny" it is meant that the editor who put together the collection wishes to take credit for items not his own by obscuring the truth authorship.

And -- "stewed in Sullivan's cerebral juices"? Did you get your shots first, dude? You are aware, I trust, that he's the most notorious schizophrenic on the internet.


Some readers chime in. First a suck-up:

I would have to disagree with the other reader and say that I enjoy and agree with the approach that the Daily Dish generally takes with regards to by-lines. In some respect it akin to that of The Economist or to politicians who both have a bevy of 'anonymous' writers making contributions to their daily workings. And in many respects the Dish is an institution rather than the more typical blog format.

An institution? Certainly needing of institutionalization, I'll confess.


I would like to be sure whose thoughts are being expressed in a given post. What you are sure Andrew would write if he wrote it, is not good enough for me.

And another:

So, forced to choose between honesty and a unitary voice, you/Andrew/whomever the hell I've just emailed chose...dishonesty.

And another makes this good point:

If the intent is a solitary voice and you don't use your own bylines - why bother to do it when he's out of town [i.e., come clean only when Sullivan's on vacation-- why] ? I mean either it's important or it isn't, the voice is solitary or it isn't. I'm going to guess that the reason is that he absolutely isn't participating for a week and you're being very upfront about that. (Which is good). But ....well if you can be trusted to express for him when he's there, why can't you express for him in that solitary voice when he isn't?

Because like a lot of people who never had any particular talent, Sullivan was endlessly promoted far beyond his abilities, and now that he is a "name," he intends to sell the only thing of any value he has -- that name -- and simply pay some hacks intern-level wages to ghost-blog for him while he conducts in-depth examinations of Sarah Palin's upper fallopian tubes.

Is this worth a post? Probably not. But I'm going to be traveling today (Open Blog Tuesday!) And, I'm just curious -- somehow, "I" might wind up posting here some today anyway, and managing something close to a "solitary voice" for the first time in years.

Edit: A reader wrote to me and said "Queerbait? Really?" See, I referred to his readers as "stupid queerbait readers."

Without getting into the long explanation I gave him -- at least too much -- I agree, and agreed, really, as I was writing it. I intended the schoolground taunt sense of the word without the literal meaning meant (not sure what the literal meaning is, but you know). Do "queerbait" and "gaywad" really mean queer or gay? Kinda-sorta, yeah. Even if I wasn't really intending to put a lot of gay weight on that putdown, I can't sit here and pretend that meaning was unknown to me and I can't for the life of me fathom how anyone got an anti-gay vibe off the post.

In this context, using that word definitely invoked the gay meaning. If it were another blog, not run by a gay dude, I probably could have gotten away with it. Here, not so much, especially with the other gay-baiting stuff (Panic at the Disco, "butthurt") reinforcing that meaning.

I've taken out "queerbait." So one of the three is gone. I used it, and that was wrong (in this context), and I confess error. I've taken it out because really I had second thoughts about it even as I was writing it, and now, having third thoughts, I finally edit out what shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Other defenses:

1) I wrote this very late the night before, five minutes before shut-eye. It posted at 9 in the morning or so, but that's just because I told the "under-bloggers" to take it out of draft and publish it in the morning.

2) I didn't write it at all; it was one of those "under-bloggers" who perpetually stew in my cerebral juices. Not saying who -- it wouldn't be fair to the guilty party to out them like that --- but like, it was Laura.

(No not really; it was me.)

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posted by Ace at 08:53 AM

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