The Magazine's review of blogs
By Alan Connor
There are two enormous stories this week. Or, in the blogosphere, three.
Felt has come in for stick from bloggers
The blogs at starwars.com have prompted an agitation which might not surprise you.
But, for the purposes of Weblog Watch, we're more interested in the contemporary events on Planet Earth - specifically the naming of Watergate whistle-blower Deep Throat and the week's EU referenda.
What is there to say in the wake of the Deep Throat revelation?
One popular angle has been to go back and see what might have been a clue in the last three decades.
The Liberal Avenger was first off the block, spotting an old newspaper article which had unwittingly hit the nail on the head: "A 19-year-old who had been at summer camp with Carl Bernstein's son in 1988 when they were both approximately eight years old told the Hartford Courant in 1999 that Bernstein's son told him that Deep Throat was W. Mark Felt. Only one question remains: What sort of eight-year-olds talk about Watergate at summer camp?"
The Washington Post, publisher of the original Watergate scoop, graciously blogged the reactions as they came, opening its coverage up to comments.
The main way of offering comment, though, was by commenting directly on Deep Throat himself. Ask what "the bloggers" are likely to make of the ex-FBI man, and the temptation is to say "they probably hate him".
This is because since the presidential campaign, "blogs" is sometimes used as a shorthand for the right-wing community that wreaked havoc on John Kerry. It's a neat story: the mainstream media is "liberal" and the independent bloggers are "conservative", but these flimsy labels peel off easily.
Nevertheless, if you want passion, the Republican blogs are the place to find it. As you might expect, they're not enamoured of anyone who might criticise the Commander-In-Chief, especially when it's Republican president Richard Nixon. And so Feld has come in for a lot of flak, such as Daily Pundit's attack on the "despicable hypocrite and coward".
Other angles included Professor William Gaines' touching slice of humble pie at his site, which has insisted for some time that Deep Throat was Fred Fielding, and the blogosphere's characteristic critique of the media and the political system, as epitomised by Adbusters.
And whatever angle taken, whichever conclusions drawn, it's a week to tip one's hat to webloggers for managing to avoid lame jokes about the blue movie Deep Throat. On the whole.
'Non' to EU
On the morning of the 1973 referendum on the EEC, every newspaper except the Morning Star encouraged its readers to vote "Yes".
Things might have changed enormously on this side of the Channel, but over in Marseille, a law teacher called Etienne Chouard felt that the "Non" voice was likewise marginalised, and took his objections online.
Is his Journal De Bord a blog proper? Comments and trackbacks are absent, but it's a personal site commenting day-by-day on the news, and with a reported 25,000 hits a day, the question is less interesting than its impact.
There are plenty of English-language blogs covering the EU. You'll probably know from the title whether a blog like The Road To European Serfdom is for you, and what take on the EU to expect. A good place to start is Nosemonkey's misleadingly-titled Europhobia: it's great and even-handed in doling out the links, so you can keep up with other comment, as well as Europe-specific blogs such as EU Communications Commissioner Margot Wallstrom's and European Democracy, which liveblogged the Dutch result.
Blogs have added humour to the EU debate
Also frequently updated and good with the links is EU Referendum, and - we know you'll have to take our word on this - it's also funny.
In fact, a spot of levity on the death analogies is to be found throughout the blogosphere. The libertarian group-blog Samizdata is no stranger to an elegant turn of phrase and they're also fans of the low gag, too:
"The European Constitution died earlier this evening following a short but torrid illness. [...]
For those who witnessed the last few undignified days of her life being dragged ignominiously around the squalid back-streets of Amsterdam, it will be easy to forget that the Constitution began her life as a daughter of the Europe's elites; a cherished brainchild of the new aristocracy and the bearer of all their hopes and wishes for a secure and golden future."
Even the blogs which go for economic speculation are - trust us - surprisingly readable.
The Glittering Eye gives a case for "the beginning of the end for the euro", and The Captain's Quarters puts the case more harshly.
Europe, as a topic, is a good test for the blogosphere. It's something that mainstream news is struggling to make interesting, but if you look in the right places, this notoriously off-putting subject is treated with the mixture of informed enthusiasm and irreverence that you'd hope for.
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