January 15, 2004


The Week magazine announced its inaugural Opinion Awards today. Columnist of the Year: Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times. Single-Issue Advocacy Columnist of the Year: Paul Krugman, The New York Times.

And the Blogger of the Year, as selected for The Week by Glenn Reynolds, Jeff Jarvis, and Daniel Radosh? Itís D.C.-based Joshua Micah Marshall, an occasional New York Times contributor who covers much the same narrow territory as Krugman and, to a lesser extent, Friedman (Marshall nowadays rarely links to Krugman because, as he explains, "there's so much overlap between our audiences that the links are redundant").

Strange choice. My vote -- in a heartbeat -- would have been for Salam Pax*, whose politics I disagree with but whose influence and significance in 2003 was undeniable. Every blog reader will probably have a different choice. "Different" being the point; Josh Marshall simply isnít. From millions of bloggers, the judges -- to whom, on the subject of online expertise, Iíll usually defer -- have chosen someone whose journalistic, social, and political DNA is a 99.999% match with the winners of the mainstream opinion categories.

UPDATE. Marshall was an early believer in the fake turkey.

UPDATE II. I love this line from The Weekís write-up of the awards, reprinted by Jeff Jarvis:

Marshall, a liberal in a medium better known for its conservative and libertarian voices, has also aggressively covered the Bush administration's strategy.

In other words, Marshall stands out among bloggers because heís more like the New York Times. Just what we need.

*Actually, I would have voted for Treacher.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 15, 2004 12:16 PM

Speaking of opinion that stinks, did anyone read about Idol reject 'millsy' in the Hun today?

He talks of brain activation and decativation while singing the praise of 'Bowling for Columbine'. I guess the two topics can become intertwined sometimes.

Talk about your average dickhead. I'll get the article.

Posted by: donnyc at January 15, 2004 at 12:19 PM

This'd be an interesting topic for a poll.

For mine, the first blog I check almost every day is Whiskey Bar. The second one, I grudgingly confess, is this one. Despite being a breeding ground for rabid right wing loonies, it's generally quite entertaining, current, and topical (if somehat selective). I thought the breaking news coverage of the capture of SH was particularly good, and a credit to blogging!

Posted by: Nemesis at January 15, 2004 at 12:42 PM

Joshua Micah Marshall is a dumb choice for Blogger of the Year. The guy is a total DNC hack. He probably jacks off to pictures of Terry McCauliff. We get enough of that from the mainstream media, and now bloggers are getting awarded for it? So much for the "alternative" angle blogs provide. And his blog layout is annoying. Can he possibly squeeze another ad on there?

Posted by: g wiz at January 15, 2004 at 12:46 PM

Nice comment N.
But not just capture of SH. Fires in Oz. Bali bombing. Blair blogs the lot. Sorry crap from Jarvis in his comments about complainers being jealous. Not jealous - just damned disappointed at more US centric old media masquerading as new media getting rewarded by blokes who know better.

Posted by: W at January 15, 2004 at 12:47 PM

Should note, I'd a' given it to PeacePeace as well.

Posted by: W at January 15, 2004 at 12:49 PM

Marshall's a good choice, but I agree Pax would probably be better. He certainly made the biggest splash this year.

Not sure why Marshall often agreeing with Krugman and Friedman should count against him.

Posted by: Stewart Kelly at January 15, 2004 at 01:00 PM

It's not just that Marshall agrees with Friedman and Krugman, Stew -- it's that he's indistinguishable from them in so many other ways. Writes for the same papers, deals with the same editors, lives in the same part of the US (well, very close), pursues the same news angles ... the only difference is that he does it online.

Posted by: tim at January 15, 2004 at 01:11 PM

Argh Friedman !
His brain has totally turned to mush !

Its not that he is neutral and unbiased on issues relating to the middle east - he just contradicts himself every damn week.

One week he complains about Israelis murdered in pizzerias and the right of a country to go after terrorists.
Another week he bitches about how the war on terror will make things worse. Then he supports the Saudi peace initiative which backs the Palestinian Authority, then in another article he says that the PA must go !

Posted by: Jono at January 15, 2004 at 01:16 PM

Well, Marshall's politics certainly aren't mine and if Paul Kruman is Patient Zero in the spread of the Bush Hatred Virus that has infected so many on the Left, Marshall may be Patient One.

However, his blog is an excellent source for liberals and Democrats; he does a great deal of his own research and reporting, albeit of a somewhat tendentious slant (okay, more than somewhat). He does an excellent job of balancing opinion with analysis with reporting.

But he's a bit too Krugmanesque; and increasingly so.

Weirdest Krugman statement of late: What happened to the Dixie Chicks reminded him (Krugman) of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany.

Yeah, right. Remarkable similarities.


Posted by: SteveMG at January 15, 2004 at 01:23 PM

I would've voted for me too, but only because I'm a total narcissist.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 15, 2004 at 01:48 PM

Three members in good standing of the 'all the news that fits our agenda' newspaper. All proponents of the people democratic party, The party of inclusivness that gives out awards without blushing about not including one outside voice.

Never heard of Joshua Marshall. I make it a policy not to pay attention to blogs who don't have a talk back feature. Bet Josh will be wondering why his traffic spiked in the middle of January.

Posted by: Papertiger at January 15, 2004 at 01:49 PM

Poor Timmy Boy didn't get an award. But hey maybe if you got off your cowardly ass and acted like a professional journalist for a change maybe some of us in the real world of international media might have some respect for you.

Go on Tim ask your employers to sponsor you as an embed in Iraq. You might learn something with your own eyes and ears for once instead of the cut and paste rubbish you post here and write in the Bulletin.

I hear they do great food in Iraq and lunch can be had for a buck and with a smile they can even find some aging French wine to go with it.

Sadly with two young kids and a third on the way my wife won't let me go and do lunch with you in Basra. But you an aging Gen Xer who has still not polluted the gene pool is free to roam the world's hot spots. So let's see you shine in the deserts of Iraq with your insightful right wing wit as you report something fresh and original for a change.

Posted by: Rim Job at January 15, 2004 at 02:03 PM

Hey Tim

I see your picture has bumped Laurie Oaks from his spot on the home page of The Bulletin.

What gives?

Posted by: Gilly at January 15, 2004 at 02:14 PM

LUNCHY! How you been, boy?

Posted by: tim at January 15, 2004 at 02:14 PM

We had a fistfight at the Bulletin Christmas lunch to decide who'd get their pic on the home page, Gilly. Give Laurie credit; he's a fine brawler and an excellent eye-gouger, but in the end youth prevailed.

Posted by: tim at January 15, 2004 at 02:17 PM

The title of blogger of the year should go to the blogger who breaks, or makes, the biggest on-line sourced story.
Salam Pax was a story in himself, but did not break or make a story that was not picked up by mainstream media.
Marshall did break a big story, but I have forgotten what it was.
Anyone out there remember.
Whomever blogger it was who broke the turkey story deserves a gong. There was also the on-line story about pro-American demonstrations in Baghdad
I believe TB broke or made that story on the basis of cross-checking & cyber-leads.
Congrats for that.
Krugman is clearly the top op-ed journalist in the English speaking world. Whatever you think of his centrist ideology, or his Democrat partisanship, no one else comes close to him in terms of hard-hitting analytics on the Big Picture issues.
Having a personal web-stalker is proof of that.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at January 15, 2004 at 02:18 PM

I hope you kicked his arse.

I've never forgiven Laurie for putting Australia in the picture about Cheryl and Gareth.

Its given me more unpleasant mental images than I care to contemplate.

Posted by: Gilly at January 15, 2004 at 02:25 PM


I hope your joking, because Krugman's an embarrassment to everything associated with responsible journalism. The guy actually had some respectability prior to his spewing his sewage in the Times, but he is impossible to read at this point (except as comic relief). Even his economic predictions (supposed area of expertise) have not borne out (still waiting for the deflation disaster!). Oh, and does the British version of his book cover stike you as centrist? If so, that says much more about you than you probably realize...

Posted by: Jerry at January 15, 2004 at 02:29 PM

Were those the High School Opinion Awards? Three columnists who rise to the sophomoric on occasion (OK, Friedman often soars above the sophomoric and writes perfectly obvious commonplaces on HIS best days), and don't even write well. One thing, though -- faithful readers of said writers who don't guffaw in derision at their "analysis" will find surprises on the front page month after month, as the world does things they know are not possible. Suppose there's some entertainment value in that.

Posted by: IceCold at January 15, 2004 at 02:35 PM

Okay, for our amusement and bewilderment. Here is blogger of the year Josh Marshall's distinction between the good unilateralism of Clinton in Bosnia and the bad unilateralism of Bush in Iraq. With the definition of unilateralism being, for this instance, U.N. approval.

"In short, the issue is not so much whether you get sign off from the UN or NATO on every particular thing you do. It's a question of the totality of one's approach to allies and the rest of the nation's of the world. By that measure, the whole situation in the Balkans and the current one in Iraq could scarcely be more different."

So, it's not whether you get the approval of the UN - which, of course, the Democratic critics have used as the standard for Bush's unilateralism in Iraq - but "the totality of one's approach to allies and the rest of the nation's (sic) of the world."

That just doesn't fail the giggle test; it doesn't pass the roll on the floor until paramedics have to come and sedate you test.

Make him give back the award.


Posted by: SteveMG at January 15, 2004 at 03:33 PM

Don't know about JMM's blog, but I'm totally unimpressed with him when I hear him on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. As someone said previously, he's a Democrat hack.

Posted by: Polly at January 15, 2004 at 03:39 PM

Marshall looks absolutely right about the turkey. He called it a gussied up display turkey, which it was. He didn't call it fake, as in never a real turkey. That's a complete distortion of what he said.

I find Krugman to usually be a good read, which frankly I can't say for many of the other NYT editorialists.

Posted by: I_Told_You_To_Use_A_Real_Goddam_Name-Admin at January 15, 2004 at 04:12 PM

>>So, it's not whether you get the approval of the UN - which, of course, the Democratic critics have used as the standard for Bush's unilateralism in Iraq - but "the totality of one's approach to allies and the rest of the nation's (sic) of the world.

In other words, it's not about getting an official stamp, it's about getting the world to understand and have sympathy for your cause. If you'll recall Bush was going to put the invasion to a vote in the UN if he thought he could get a majority vote in the Security Council because even though France would veto it, it would have given the appearance of having gotten the true democratic majority support. When he didn't think he could even get that majority, he decided not to call for a vote and just invaded anyway. That's the kind of thing Marshall is talking about, dismissing other countries instead of trying to at least placate them. Europe wasn't outrage about the Balkans, it was about Iraq.

Posted by: I_Told_You_To_Use_A_Real_Goddam_Name-Admin at January 15, 2004 at 04:20 PM

The first blog I visit is always Instapundit. The blog I usuially spend most time on is Tacitus, the one that makes me think the most is a toss up between Iraq the Model or USS Clueless. Kim du Toit, Tim Blair, Merde in France, Powerline, and a half dozen others would come in before Marshall. While I do read him, he is mearly average in content, layout, readability, and accuracy.

Posted by: Aaron at January 15, 2004 at 04:21 PM

>Krugman is clearly the top op-ed journalist in the English speaking world. Whatever you think of his centrist ideology, or his Democrat partisanship, no one else comes close to him in terms of hard-hitting analytics on the Big Picture issues.

Hey, Jackie, did Krugman tell you that Milosevic was removed without "major use of military force?" Is he the primary source of your little fantasy world?

My favorite Krugman moment so far was a diagram purporting to show the average taxes paid by people in my income bracket. According to Krugman, I'm paying between two or three times the average.

Funny, that.

Posted by: John Nowak at January 15, 2004 at 04:38 PM

I ask the same ? as IceCold:
"Were those the High School Opinion Awards?"

I think the categories should be something like:


For blogs and news columnists, the question
should be who is a MUST READ every day?

Which one wouldn't you EVER read, even if it
were the only one available?


Which blog or columnist breaks stories the others ignore? (Must be accurate.)


Which blog or columnist has the best accuracy rate? Which the worst?


Which blog/columnist is so far left, he/she is
living in another reality? What about the right?


Which blog/columnist is best for fact checking a story and uncovering all the 'errors'?

Posted by: Chris Josephson at January 15, 2004 at 05:08 PM

Winds of Change should have won. Tons of obscure links to political and military matters, great essays, astute comments - it's a real grown-up international news/policy site. I'm glad it got into the top 5 - that means someone with clout is reading it.

Posted by: Yehudit at January 15, 2004 at 05:54 PM

So, are you people going to start buying CDs based on the Grammy awards? Or maybe the America's Choice Steaming Piles Event?

Please. Fucking blog awards are so fucking 1997 it is sad to even spend the precious energy to say so, again. Is so newbie.

The Week is a suck-ass magazine. (Sorry, Jarvis, but it really is a thin yet stinking slice of worthlessness. I've read better airline magazines. And Scientology brochures.) If you want to read a weekly magazine to spare you the horror of reading the idiot daily newspapers & innernut sites, get The Economist. If you need stupid details re: pop culture or whatever, just walk down a city street every few months and you'll catch up with it all: Paris Hilton, Mad Cow, Britney married a blow-up fuck doll, etc.

Josh Marshall is fine at what he does. He writes about politics (I guess Democratic? Who cares!) for those who maybe care. Isn't that what all these people do? Andrew Sullivan, the "other" Andrew Sullivan, that one guy, Mr. what's the deal, little dude, guy who says something, etc.

Do any of you -- including Tim, who is probably drunk right now and using some sort of endangered animal for his "sexual" pleasure -- actually want Tim to be an "awarded" blogger. Fuck blogs. Blogs are dumb. Tim is a writer. Also, unlike 99.9999999999% of those condemned to journalism, Tim is funny, even if he foams at the mouth at times. (Blame cheap wine. One day we will fix this.)

Unless you are wheelchair-bound (sorry!), you really shouldn't read more than one or two blogs per week. Tim is a good choice, because of the funny and the knowing how to write. Glenn Reynolds is a good choice, because he saves you 45 minutes of looking at the dullard news pages, and frees you up for morning drinking. Somebody or other else might be good, but I am not convinced. At the end of the day / year, you are safe reading Fark.com. It has news, plus the exploding animals and the girls who have breasts and the BREAKING NEWS.

Goodbye Forever.

Posted by: Ken Layne at January 15, 2004 at 06:02 PM

Actually, I would have voted for Tim.

I'm still laughing at his description of Margaret Drabble:

"Sure, sheís got the crazy eyes and the bowl haircut of the tragically concerned..."

Posted by: mike at January 15, 2004 at 06:12 PM

This summer on Fox: Ken Layne in Guess That BAC! (If you think I just insulted him, nobody likes you.)

Another good one is SomethingAwful.com. They keep track of global wrongness, which seems to be concentrated in the Japan area for some reason.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 15, 2004 at 06:47 PM

Or maybe Guess Ken Layne's BAC would be a better title. What do I know, I'm drinking vanilla vodka. Where did I leave my purse?

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 15, 2004 at 06:50 PM

Tim: My vote -- in a heartbeat -- would have been for Salam Pax*, whose politics I disagree with but whose influence and significance in 2003 was undeniable.

He certainly became famous, but that owed far more to the circumstances than to the content of his blog. I don't see how he was influential, except insofar as he influenced thousands to share Lileks' disdain for his whinging self-absorption.

Posted by: Michael at January 15, 2004 at 08:22 PM

such cool bloggers

so it's 'so 1997', is it ken layne?

and 1997, what was that mr early blogger?

Posted by: ilibcc at January 15, 2004 at 09:24 PM

Reading the article on Buzzmachine, I thought it was a joke. I mean, in each category there was a list of finalists, all of them good choices, and then some left-wing clown as the winner.

But no. Irony is dead. I'll have to rename my blog...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 15, 2004 at 10:26 PM

No, wait! It's ironic that I (the number 9 Google hit when you search on "irony") thought they were being ironic when they were dead serious. Yes! Irony lives!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 15, 2004 at 10:28 PM

I used to enjoy JMM's commentary and original research even though I disagreed with his conclusions 80% of the time. However, his 9/11 anniversary essay was shocking and offensive, the type of cheapshot crap found on some low-rent sites named after obscure Greek/Roman politicians/philosophers/generals. I haven't been back since.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at January 15, 2004 at 11:11 PM

Even if it were just a "gussied up display turkey", so what? Anyone watch a commercial for any kind of food lately?

Posted by: Rick C at January 16, 2004 at 12:37 AM

My vote goes to Zeyad of Healing Iraq. He became his own news reporter, photographer, etc. and scooped all the Western media with his coverage of pro-democracy demonstration in Baghdad.

Besides, JMM should get penalty points just for going around calling himself "Joshua Micah Marshall."

Posted by: Donnah at January 16, 2004 at 01:11 AM

"So 1997" I suspect is a way of heaping contempt on the notion that anything that's going on on the Web right now will have any significance 1 or 2 years down the road. The only thing that was being said back then that I remember was that the web was going to change a lot of things. That's true, but nothing else remains.

Posted by: Bovious at January 16, 2004 at 03:47 AM

Blogs were much better in my time when we had to write them in blood with feathers plucked from bald eagles during snowstorms.

Young punks these days think they know blogging.

Posted by: Steve in Houston at January 16, 2004 at 06:13 AM

"gussied up display turkeys" are de rigeur for, at least, officers' mess thanksgiving dinners. my husband served 20 years in the u.s. army and saw one EVERY year. imagine that? everybody get a clue.
thanksgiving is an important dinner gathering for our armed services, and especially for those who are deployed or away from family. senior officers traditionally serve the others in the serving line and then mingle about. just as bush did. the only controversy any informed person can divine from the prez's thanksgiving trip is how utterly either clueless or petty and mendacious the press corps behaved (continues to behave) afterward.

goodness, any "nice" photo op bush does is to be discredited. have the pundits pounced on how he allows photos of him petting his pet dog? maybe p.e.t.a can tell us how Barney is being abused as a political prop--- maybe JMM can call him a "gussied up pol pup"?

i, too, believed the awards to be a lampoon at first....

Posted by: charlotte at January 16, 2004 at 02:17 PM

I'm relieved to hear 2 previous commentors say they thought it was a joke. It initially struck me as a Scrappleface routine: the list of good choices, followed by the announcement of a lame choice as winner.

Posted by: terry at January 17, 2004 at 12:29 PM