Boy, left-wing bloggers really hate Ann Althouse.
I arrived at work Tuesday morning to find a voice mail from Roxanne Cooper, director of marketing for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, informing me that Althouse, a UW-Madison law professor and nationally prominent blogger, had name-checked Isthmus in a New York Times op-ed piece. The left-wing blogosphere was hustling to check the veracity of her claims.
The piece, "A License to Blog," mentions our paper in the first paragraph:
Unlike a lot of other political bloggers, I started blogging with a distinct lack of interest in politics. My first post about a presidential campaign, back in January 2004, the first month of my blog, was purely an accident. I was reading The Isthmus [sic, it's just Isthmus, Ann], our free alternative newspaper here in Madison, Wisc., when I ran across a chart comparing the Democratic candidates for president.
Because I had the longtime habit, inherited from my grandfather, of reading out loud whatever little things in the newspaper happened to catch my attention, I said: "Hmm. Little known fact: at 59, Wesley Clark has only 5% body fat."
My son Christopher, who was used to finding himself on the receiving end of this habit, came back with: "Should it be: 'Wesley Clark is 5% body fat?'"
Evidently, there's a pack of bloggers hoping to catch Althouse on any slip-up, particularly when the Times has given her space. Cooper was calling to see if Althouse was accurately representing our article. Shortly thereafter, Duncan Black of Eschaton (atrios.blogspot.com) checked in by e-mail with the same request.
Althouse was referring to a piece Isthmus ran in January 2004 called "True Believers," which profiled the nine Democratic presidential candidates via Madisonians working on their campaigns. Wesley Clark's representative was Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, his state campaign chair. The article is available for download at right.
Personally, I have no opinion of Althouse's blog and rarely read it (I'm more of a Kottke guy), but this morning's experience proves that her adventures in online writing have brought her a measure of fame and notoriety normally reserved for talk show hosts and professional pundits. In her Times piece, Althouse addresses the conversations that occur among those leaving comments on her site, suggesting bloggers "let life on the blog unfold like off-blog life."
That thought is particularly interesting due to some work we're completing this week right here at TDP, but more on that later.