Lead­ing blog­ger Malkin stands up against abuse, vul­gar­ity

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Robert Stacy McCain

Michelle Malkin is a busy wo­man. A na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist, she is the au­thor of three books and a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to Fox News Chan­nel, where she re­cently filled in as guest host on “The O’Reilly Fac­tor.”

Mrs. Malkin, 36, is also a suc­cess­ful In­ter­net en­tre­pre­neur, pro­pri­etor of two sites that are ranked No. 1 and No. 3 among con­ser­va­tive­ori­ented po­lit­i­cal blogs, ac­cord­ing to rat­ings by Tech­no­rati.com. Michelle­Malkin.com has recorded nearly 84 mil­lion vis­its since 2004 and cur­rently av­er­ages more than 100,000 vis­its daily, as does Ho­tAir.com. A blog fea­tur­ing on­line videos, in­clud­ing Mrs. Malkin’s pop­u­lar “Vent” pro­grams, Ho­tAir.com has recorded 29 mil­lion vis­its since its in­cep­tion in April 2006.

“The blogs are the busi­ness, but the syn­di­cated col­umn’s al­ways been the an­chor of ev­ery­thing I do,” says Mrs. Malkin, who has two chil­dren with her hus­band, Jesse.

Two weeks ago, Mrs. Malkin and Ho­tAir.com’s Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­ducer Bryan Pre­ston were in­ter­viewed by edi­tors and re­porters for The Wash­ing­ton Times, in­clud­ing David Eldridge, Au­drey Hud­son, Brian DeBose and Ch­eryl Wet­zstein. An ex­tended tran­script is on­line at wash­ing­ton­times.com, and the fol­low­ing are excerpts from that in­ter­view:

Ques­tion: Lib­eral blog­gers have claimed credit for the Democrats’ vic­tory in the 2006 elec­tions, and most ob­servers agree that Democrats have done much bet­ter at work­ing with blog­gers. Why is that?

An­swer:

That’s a good ques­tion. I think there’s no ques­tion that the left­wing bl­o­go­sphere had a huge im­pact on the midterm cam­paign. But their No. 1 can­di­date, [Con­necti­cut Demo­crat] Ned La­mont, lost. And they cer­tainly can’t claim vic­tory for all those [con­ser­va­tive] Blue Dog Democrats who ran to the right of many of the Repub­li­cans who lost. So, I think there’s cer­tainly a per­cep­tion that they’re very pow­er­ful. In prac­tice, I don’t know. I don’t know how much in­flu­ence they truly wield.

I do agree that a lot of the Demo- cratic lead­er­ship has done a bet­ter job than the Repub­li­cans have of pan­der­ing to the net­roots, but look what that got [for­mer North Carolina Sen.] John Ed­wards. Two of the nut­ti­est, most vul­gar blog­gers in the left-wing bl­o­go­sphere in­sin­u­ated them­selves into that cam­paign, and no one thought to stop that un­til it caused him a huge heartache and em­bar­rass­ment. And, ob­vi­ously, even now, a lot of th­ese Democrats haven’t learned.

Just last week, [New York Sen.] Hil­lary Clin­ton was blog­ging for an­other of the most vile, hate-filled sites, Firedoglake.

Q: You’ve be­come, whether you wanted to or not, sort of a sym­bol for women on­line who are stand­ing up to the vul­gar­ity of the bl­o­go­sphere and the In­ter­net. You were quoted [April 30] in The [Wash­ing­ton] Post. [. . . ] Can you talk a lit­tle bit about that?

A:

It would have been nice if The Wash­ing­ton Post re­porter had ac­tu­ally con­tacted me be­fore they took what I said out of con­text. My col­leagues at Hot Air took care to make sure that my com­ments were put in con­text. [. . . ] Ellen Nakashima’s ar­ti­cle [. . . ] had a very sym­pa­thetic view to­ward a lot of th­ese left-wing women blog­gers, who are now dis­cov­er­ing that there are un­hinged el­e­ments on the In­ter­net that say very sex­u­ally de­grad­ing and vi­o­lent things to women.

It’s amaz­ing how much press cov­er­age it got [. . . ] be­cause one fe­male tech-blog­ger had got­ten anony­mous com­ments on her blog. And th­ese pale in com­par­i­son to the signed com­ments [. . . ] that I’ve had to deal with ever since I en­tered the bl­o­go­sphere in 2004. What I said was, “Yeah, well, wel­come to the club. You know, Janie-come-latelies, thank you for the dis­cov­er­ing this, but I’ve been high­light­ing this for three years now.” I wrote a whole book about it. It was called “Un­hinged.” [. . . ] I said when those threats are se­ri­ous, you should re­port them to law en­force­ment, but oth­er­wise, you should con­tinue blog­ging.

I think that cow­er­ing and trem­bling and de­cid­ing you’re go­ing to quit blog­ging be­cause some anony­mous per­son has called you some sex­ist name is the op­po­site of what

a proud fem­i­nist po­si­tion should be.

Q: Your crit­ics dragged your fam­ily into it. What kind of pre­cau­tions do you take as you be­come a pub­lic per­sona on­line? And how much of it is rea­son­able pre­cau­tion and how much of it is, like you say, cow­er­ing and al­low­ing some­one to bully you away from what you’re try­ing to do as a jour­nal­ist and as a blog­ger?

A:

Well, I think ev­ery jour­nal­ist now, in the con­text of the 21st-cen­tury in­for­ma­tion age, is es­sen­tially a pub­lic fig­ure. [. . . ]

Pre­cau­tions? I take plenty of them. I won’t get into the de­tails, but it’s sad that I can’t do things on my blog that I used to when I started out. I used to post pic­tures of my kids. I used to talk about go­ing fish­ing with them.

And I think that jour­nal­ists who are con­ser­va­tives have a lot more to worry about than, you know, so­called main­stream jour­nal­ists or peo­ple on the left. I think that the dis­parate treat­ment of con­ser­va­tive speak­ers on col­lege cam­puses un­der­scores that. You know, the fact is, Cindy Shee­han and Michael Moore don’t need body­guards, but pretty much ev­ery speaker on the right does now. The peo­ple on the left who ap­pear for speak­ing events do not have to worry about get­ting pies or salad dress­ing or other for­eign ob­jects thrown at them. [. . . ]

It’s more than in­ci­vil­ity, be­cause there are those phys­i­cal threats you have to deal with. So, you know, I just zeal­ously guard the pri­vacy of my fam­ily, ob­vi­ously, but it’s not go­ing to stop me from do­ing what I do.

And so that’s why I just felt the need to speak out about Kathy Sierra and the blog­gers on the left, be­cause they’re say­ing now that what they have weath­ered is so dras­tic and so bur­den­some to them, that that’s what’s go­ing to cause them to shut down. It’s like, “You ain’t seen noth­ing, honey. You don’t know the half of it.” [. . . ]

Q: A friend of mine once warned me, “A blog will eat your life” — it’s ad­dic­tive and time-con­sum­ing. Has that been true for you?

A:

Ab­so­lutely. I con­fess, I am a full blog junkie. [. . . ] [E]ven be­fore there was blog soft­ware, I was us­ing an old pro­gram called Mi­crosoft Front­page. [. . . ] I would man­u­ally code the whole thing [. . . ] and I prob­a­bly had about five read­ers. [. . . ] But af­ter I jumped into it feet-first, it’s not some­thing you can turn off. You do it in the mid­dle of the night. [. . . ]

Q: What do you think about the sit­u­a­tion with [fired ra­dio shock jock] Don Imus?

A:

I think it was com­ing to him. He had it com­ing to him. I don’t have any sym­pa­thy for him, but you know, the whole de­ba­cle ex­posed a lot of hypocrisy ev­ery­where. [. . .] [T]he col­umn I’d writ­ten the week that it all came out high­lighted all of the dis­gust­ing stuff that’s on the Bill­board Hot Rap Tracks ev­ery week and that stuff is still go­ing on. I un­der­stand that the NAACP just de­clared the death of the “n-word” — that hasn’t got­ten around to the hiphop world, not the last time I turned on the ra­dio.

Q: You’ve been a harsh critic of the “Girls Gone Wild” cul­ture, and also of celebri­ties like Paris Hil­ton and Brit­ney Spears. How does that fit in as a part of the in­ci­vil­ity we see so much in con­tem­po­rary cul­ture?

A:

I think the cheap­en­ing of women in so­ci­ety has ev­ery­thing to do with in­ci­vil­ity in the cul­ture, and I’m glad that th­ese lib­eral women blog­gers are see­ing that now. I wish that they would see that a lot of that in­ci­vil­ity has been di­rected at con­ser­va­tive women. And I wish that they were more out­spo­ken, not only about the do­mes­tic “Girls Gone Wild” sit­u­a­tion, but also about the role of women be­ing op­pressed around the world. [. . . ]

I just fin­ished do­ing a lec­ture at St. Louis Univer­sity on this, and we talked about the “Girls Gone Wild” cul­ture. On the one hand, you have Brit­ney Spears and Paris Hil­ton, and on the other hand, you have hip-hop cul­ture, and I think the con­flu­ence of those things is very dan­ger­ous and poi­sonous.

I have a 6 1/2-year-old daugh­ter, and I look at this stuff. She can­not watch me on “O’Reilly” any­more, be­cause even in prime time on Fox, the stuff that they show — dur­ing the fam­ily hour — I can’t have her watch me on TV. It’s got­ten that bad. [. . . ]

Q: You went to Iraq [in Jan­uary] [. . . ] and you’ve been a critic of the me­dia cov­er­age. [. . . ] What is hap­pen­ing there? What is the me­dia miss­ing about Iraq?

A:

Well, part of our mo­ti­va­tion [. . . ] was to look into a story that the As­so­ci­ated Press had first re­ported, around Thanks­giv­ing. [. . . ] I think we have just got­ten so sick of the daily death toll, IED ex­plo­sion-ofthe-day type re­port­ing, that we have used both our sites, both my site and Hot Air, to pro­vide that bal­ance.

I think that the em­bed pro­gram is such a great in­no­va­tion. More cit­i­zen-jour­nal­ists should use it. [. . . ] We’ve seen a lot more blog­gers on the right than on the left go over there.

Q: You have been harshly crit­i­cal of Pres­i­dent Bush’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy. Why?

A:

Be­cause his pol­icy is open borders, and I think it runs ex­actly con­trary to the lip ser­vice he pays to home­land se­cu­rity. And I would say that his ten­ure has been as bad or pos­si­bly worse than Clin­ton’s or any­one’s pre­ced­ing him. And he is vig­or­ously push­ing an amnesty that will make the 1986 amnesty look like noth­ing. He’s hold­ing hands with the Con­gres­sional His­panic Cau­cus and the lib­er­tar­ian open-borders lob­by­ists who want to see this hap­pen, and ap­par­ently he doesn’t buy his own rhetoric that home­land se­cu­rity starts with border se­cu­rity.

Michelle Malkin

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