The Spectacle Blog

This May Be Yglesias’s Blog, But Not Really

By on 12.22.08 | 5:30PM

Matthew Yglesias, as is his wont, criticizes the Third Way:

Third Way is a neat organization ... And they do a lot of clever messaging stuff that a lot of candidates find very useful. But their domestic policy agenda is hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit. There are a variety of issues that they have nothing whatsoever to say on, and what policy ideas they do have are laughable in comparison to the scale of the problems they allegedly address. ... Third Way isn’t really a “public policy think tank” at all, it’s a messaging and political tactics outfit. ... [P]ersonnel on his policy teams — including the more ideologically moderate members — [don't] stand for anything that’s remotely as weak a brew as the stuff Third Way puts out. And yet, Third Way loves Barack Obama and says he’s a moderate just like them. Which is great. ... At the very same time Obama is disappointing progressive supporters on a number of fronts, he’s also bringing moderates on board for things that are way more ambitious than anything they were endorsing two or three years ago.

And then the chill of authority sweeps into the room. Jennifer Palmieri, the acting CEO of Center for American Progress Action Fund, immediately posts on Yglesias's blog that while they may be paying the blogger's rent for the blogging he does for them, his blog in no way represents the editorial stance of his employer:

Most readers know that the views expressed on Matt’s blog are his own and don’t always reflect the views of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Such is the case with regard to Matt’s comments about Third Way. Our institution has partnered with Third Way on a number of important projects - including a homeland security transition project - and have a great deal of respect for their critical thinking and excellent work product. They are key leaders in the progressive movement and we look forward to working with them in the future.

In other words, "Continue saying whatever you want, but we'll reserve the right to jump onto your platform that we sought to profit from and issue our own statements that clarify where you stand vis a vis our editorial line." It would make sense to me if this were a large publication (or even a small one). But if your whole shtick as an organization is supporting certain coalition-y type work, wouldn't a blogger's desire to do his own editorial stuff get in the way of that?

Perhaps it's that Yglesias's agenda reflects that of CAP overall, so it's cool. But one hopes that CAP has a clear policy on when they're going to hijack the blog in order to distance themselves from the blogger who they pay to run it. (I'm still trying to wrap my head around this.) And one also hopes that Palmieri realizes how perfectly silly she sounded -- she could have discretely sent an email off to Third Way explaining the same thing. But then again, who ever does anything discretely? Let's just attract attention by asserting authority!

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