Leading blogger Malkin stands up against abuse, vulgarity
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.