A liberal professor learns the limits of liberal "tolerance" and how the media feeding frenzy works. Daniel Crandall writes.


Roger Pielke, Jr. is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. When it comes to academic and so-called progressive credentials Prof. Pielke is no slouch. Being a member of the “progressive” community kept him blinkered as to how, in his own words, “the liberal slime machine works in practice," which is something he finds “all the more ironic because [he considers himself] to be cut from a similar political cloth to many of those who are engaged in all out war against [him].”

“Here is how it works. The really giant fish — public intellectuals like Tom Friedman and Paul Krugman — confer authority on the big fish of the liberal blogosphere. They do so by applauding the work of the big fish and saying that they trust them. This is a useful exchange because the big fish amplify the writings of the giant fish in the blogosphere and do the dirty work of taking down their political opponents by playing some gutter politics that the giant fish would rather not be seen playing. This has the effect of establishing the big fish as people to be listened to, not because they are necessarily right about things, but because the giant fish listen to them and the giant fish set political agendas.”

Within the oceans of information, the big fish feed the giant fish. The task of feeding the big fish task, according to Pielke, is left to the minnows.

“But even the big fish apparently see some gutter behavior as not really becoming of professionals …, as to more effectively attack someone’s reputation they also rely on the minnows of the blogosphere, people who see it as their sole job to "trash" someone’s reputation via innuendo, fabrication and outright misrepresentation.”

This “minnows feeding the big fish that feed the giant fish” behavior only serves, as Pielke writes, “to intensify partisan splits and actually work against effective policy making.”

Prof. Pielke has fallen out of his ideological compatriots good graces, not because he has written a David Mamet-like confession as to why he is no longer a “brain-dead liberal.” No, nothing as radical as that. Pielke, it seems, has the temerity of dissenting from the Party line on global warming.

“I have patiently and persistently built upon an academic record of peer-reviewed research on aspects of the climate that they disagree with, but cannot touch via conventional academic argumentation.”

The Right would recognize the tactics Prof. Pielke describes since it has been on the receiving end of them for years. The latest example is the Limbaugh – NFL kerfuffle. The minnows (Wikipedia) attribute fabricated quotes to Limbaugh, the big fish (The Nation magazine, NFL personnel) cite those quotes and mainstream journalism’s giant fish (CNN’s Rick Sanchez, Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon) cite the big fish.

In the end, Limbaugh is fired. As Saul Alinsky infamously phrased it, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”

Prof. Pielke, welcome to the real world.

–Daniel Crandall