Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Wake Them Up When September Ends

Almost as mystifying as the Council's brush off of ethics in June and September is the near total blogger silence on the Council's handling of the ethics recommendations. Many area political bloggers were all over the Council's budget considerations during the summer. I mean: they were thicker than flies on a rib roast; even the ones who do not live in Davidson County. Mostly conservative bloggers, they were ready to hoist Mayor Purcell's head on a pike just outside some suburban cul-de-sac for even suggesting raising revenues. Of course, many of those same bloggers failed to include in their head hunt the conservative Council members who flip-flopped and voted to pass an alternative tax increase (Enclave already told you about one who even signed a no-tax pledge but voted for the increase anyway). So, that might tell you how much they purely value character and ethics.

You might not participate in the blogosphere, but I have for months now, including reading multiple blogs daily. I believe that many political bloggers have an inflated sense of self-importance, promoting themselves as journalists telling the true story that mainstream media will not tell. I do not question the idea that in some cases, political bloggers force more attention to uncovered news. But I also believe that in general the story behind blogger's stories is that political bloggers are selective themselves in the attention they give to politics. And by that, I do not mean selective in the sense of writing on local vs. state vs. federal politics; I mean selective in the sense of a partisan bias for playing up some news and ignoring other news.

The Metro Council's ethics issue is a case in point. Outside of Enclave's coverage of Council member Charlie Tygard's June move to defer the ethics recommendations, I do not recall any other blog dealing with it. Nobody else raised a single red flag, despite the fact that the move to defer came no more than 2 or 3 weeks after the Capitol Hill ethics crisis exploded in the mainstream headlines. And boy, those conservatives bloggers milked the latter crisis for all it was worth, which makes me think that they were simply using the issue of ethics as pretense, pretext, and prelude to bludgeoning a particular party's officials (not that Tennessee Democrats did not deserve some kind of comeuppance). My guess is that some Council members' conservative standing on the Council makes them immune to criticism among many in the local blogosphere.

And now that we are deep into September, the blogosphere remains bereft of any coverage or criticism of the Council's seeming aversion to standards and last night's cursory consideration and vote to defer indefinitely. I am aware of only two bloggers who wrote on the Council antics either before or after the circus: myself and Bruce Barry at PiTW. Oh, one conservative blogger did give the slightest attention to the matter, but it was only to strike an easy target: Ronnie Greer's dopey statement about wanting to eat. Besides it confirms my perception: this conservative blogger merely used Greer's devotion to his appetite as an occasion to pour his contempt of liberals into the public eye (the linkage assumes that Greer is "liberal").

If taunt is the single most substantive form of response that conservative political bloggers have to make on ethical issues in the Metro Council, then one has to wonder whether they ever rouse when local politics fails to fit their own agenda. Oh, well, September is nearly at an end.

09/21/2005, 4:30 p.m. Update: Addition to list of conservative bloggers commenting on the ethics deferral now includes Blake Wylie at, who posted his criticism later this afternoon.

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