Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Andrew Sullivan’s brains


Turns out Andrew Sullivan relies upon ghost writers more than Sarah Palin. One of his “ghost bloggers” at the Atlantic, Patrick Appel, just outed Sullivan as having multiple personalities when writing:

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.

When a reader complained that Sullivan’s blog does not use bylines even though the presumed author was responsible for only half the content, Appel replied,

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.

Well, yes, “the solitary voice of the blog is fractured” because there is more than one person writing the blog. Part of the blog reading experience, regardless of the sponsoring institution for the blog, is the presumption it is the creation of the person whose name is attached to it. There may be no other rules abut blogging, but that is that is the whole point of a web-log.

Using my favorite example, Owen Robinson, whatever appears under his byline at his blog is uniquely Owen’s. His comment may be as short as “cool” or “heh,” but the choice of topic is still Owen’s, and the reader at least has that connection with the author’s mind.

I couldn’t write Owen’s blog*; Owen couldn’t write mine. That’s not a criticism of either of us. No matter how much a guest blogger may try to capture the spirit of a blog, every writer’s voice is unique and no where is that more glaringly obvious than in a blog.

I think for Sullivan to use ghost writers without telling anyone on a blog (really, of all places) is just dishonest and pretty shoddy treatment of his readers. As for being a “weather-vane,” I think Appel was right about the “vain” part.

I really wonder why The Atlantic keeps Sullivan on. I bet the two ghost writers are cheaper.

(Ht: Mickey Kaus)
*I tried blogging like Owen for a day. My head hurt.
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