Things are just about getting back to normal around here, following a huge surge in visitor numbers to this blog. The reason for the increased hit count was my mention of The Diplomad a week or so ago, the day before The Diplomad itself informed its readership about doing a Technorati search, resulting in their fans doing just that, and so finding their way here. I don’t think any have subsequently returned (I probably battered them with the power of my argument) so I am now back to my usual handful of readers, along with the odd (and I mean odd) visit due to peculiar Google searches (Latest search; “Adolf Hitler was an Evertonian”; the mind boggles). Anyway, I expect another spike of interest in my blog with this post, but then I hope that will be it. I have no intention of returning to this subject; as it is (two posts in a fortnight) I probably seem obsessed.
It was this article in Mediawatch that re-ignited my interest in The Diplomad. Writing about Job-Bloggers in general (and for one of the best, check out Call Centre Confidential; a brilliant, almost novelistic blog), they made the interesting comment that some of the people currently writing blogs are the sort of people who have always been used by the mainstream media when they want an anonymous insiders view on a matter; they write that “these are, of course, the very kinds of people traditionally treasured by journalists as sources. It’s just that now, they’ve gone freelance.”
They go on
“But what they say is only news if it’s accurate, relevant and interesting. The principles for trying to assess the merit of an insider blog aren’t much different from those any journalist uses to weigh up a source. Does it check out with other sources? What kind of agenda does the blogger have? And, most importantly, what is his or her track record?
“Recently, Diplomad, the anonymous blog written by US foreign service officers, made incendiary claims about United Nations arrogance and incompetence in the wake of the tsunami. These were trumpeted by many bloggers but largely ignored by the mainstream
“Not because the Diplomad authors were not who they said they were. But because much of what they said didn’t tally with more conventional reports. Their reporting from the airstrip at Aceh – which at one point praised the efforts of New Zealand’s Hercules crews – seemed sound enough. But their pronouncements about what was happening in Jakarta, let alone the wider region, lacked any ring of authority.
“Diplomad proved to be a feisty source of opinion, as it hurled abuse at the UN, Human Rights Watch, the mainstream media and the UN again. But a reliable news source? Forget it.”
I can imagine fans of The Diplomad dismissing this as typical of the liberal utterings of the mainstream media who have been ignoring the truth according to The Diplomad; but I find it interesting to see one of the reasons why The Diplomad has been ignored, outside of some opinion-based columns.
So, “What kind of agenda does the blogger have?” In this regard, Diplomad is very co-operative; they have even drawn up their own Top Ten list, not so much of what they believe in, but of opinions they disagree with; ideas that a Mixed Economy could work, that the UN is a good idea, that Global Warming is a concern, or that Lee Harvey Oswald may not have acted alone (What? Nothing about the moon landings? Or Lady Di? I could swear I saw Elvis the other day)! For The Diplomad, however these ten ideas are not honestly held opinions they disagree with; they believe they are in fact lies, and presumably the people who hold these opinions are liars. Not that slagging people off and bandying the term liar around will bother the Diplomad; they already happily characterise their opponents as “vultures” and “leftoids”, and presumably in a stab at humour once referred to developing countries as being in the Turd World. Nice.
This all goes down very well with the Diplomad’s readers, many of whom leave comments urging the authors to “keep it up”, “don’t stop telling the truth”, and so on; and of course they are correct. The Diplomad obviously has a large fan base and speaks it’s mind, and long may it continue. You won’t get any argument from me about free speech, although I guess a civil court may have something to say about their freedom to call Edward Kennedy a “killer“.
And although they may hand out the insults, they can certainly take them; they write that “leftoblogs” have called them “liars,” “fantasists,” and — our favorite — LUNATICS. Great stuff! Keep it up.”
Really? Is this what The Diplomad is for; for the authors to vent their collective spleens, to play to the gallery, and to inspire “hissy fits” in their opponents? Wouldn’t they prefer to read lefties’ blog saying that “after reading The Diplomad, I have become more critical of the UN”, or “I am now reconsidering my belief in Global Warming”?
Will that happen? I would say it is unlikely. For as long as The Diplomad seems bereft of even a hint of objectivity, unless their criticisms become more measured and reasoned, while their whole tone often appears to be on the verge of a rant, then they are all too easy to dismiss. (Even when you agree with them. I am with them when they argue against the EU’s suggestion that Nazi symbols should be banned; but when they smirk that the call for a ban was made by “a man named FRANCO…seconded by a man with the word “scam” in his name, Roscam” and “to make matters even more absurd, we have some GERMANS lecturing the world about the “consequences and World War II history linked to the Nazi swastika” I think I will look elsewhere for my Allies on this one).
This is a shame; Diplomad talks about important issues, and the authors obviously hold positions in the US State Department which must impart great insider knowledge; even if, based on their own description of The Diplomad (A Blog by career US Foreign Service officers. They are Republican, most of the time, in an institution, State Department, in which being a Republican can be bad for your career) their’s appears to be a minority view. If and when the UN fails, for example, then I want to hear about it. As things stand though, while the Diplomad reads as a collection of biased, almost paranoid grumblings about a UN/EU/MSM conspiracy against the US, I think they will always just be preaching to the converted; and what is the point of that?
Update 5/2/05: The Diplomad calls it a day! Coincidence?