New York Review of Books and Blogs:

I'm pleased that this blog was noted in this article in the New York Review of Books:

At The Truth Laid Bear, a Web site that ranks political blogs according to their number of links with other sites, eight of the top ten blogs are conservative. The conservative sites include InstaPundit (University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds), Power Line (three lawyers), (a syndicated columnist whose recent book defends the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II), Free Republic (conservative activists), Captain's Quarters (run by a call-center manager), the Volokh Conspiracy (a UCLA law professor), and Little Green Footballs (commentary on foreign policy with a strong pro-Israel slant). Complementing them are a host of "milblogs," written by active-duty military personnel promoting vigorous pursuit of the GWOT (Global War on Terror). (By far the most-visited political blog is the left-of-center Daily Kos; its popularity is owing in part to its community-style approach, which allows registered readers to post their own comments as well as comment on the posts of others.) . . .

For these bloggers, the principal target is the mainstream media, or MSM. Every day, they scrutinize the top dailies, the three broadcast networks as well as CNN, and the newsweeklies for evidence of "liberal bias." Over the last year, they have demonstrated their influence. . . .

On the other hand, I couldn't help but notice that the blog wasn't quite accurately described -- the Volokh Conspiracy, as a quick visit to the site would show, is of course cowritten by many people (mostly law professors, but mostly not from UCLA). For instance, from Nov. 20 to Nov. 28 (just to choose the dates during which the Review of Books article was likely written), there were 49 posts, of which 12 were by me; I had a bare plurality, but Orin had 11, and Todd had 10. In all of November, Orin had 33% of the posts, and I had 20%. The author and his researchers didn't have access to these detailed reports, but they could easily have observed the general trend through a quick manual count of some sample of posts.

I say this not because it's a huge error -- it's not -- but because it inadvertently illustrates the limits of the mainstream media, and the value of blogs. The mainstream media make lots of mistakes, such as this one, and they also make a considerable number of significant omissions. For instance, the long New York Review of Books article not once mentions the word "libertarian," while at the same time treating libertarians, such as InstaPundit, as "conservatives." InstaPundit (the most widely read of the "conservative" blogs that the author mentions) does have seemingly "conservative" takes on many issues, but of course it's miles away from conservatives on many social policy issues. In a short op-ed, "conservative" as an umbrella term for conservatives and hawkish libertarians would be acceptable though not maximally enlightening. A longer piece, it seems to me, would have done better to acknowledge that while hawkish libertarians and conservatives agree on the free market and generally on foreign policy, they are allied rather than identical.

Likewise, while the article does acknowledge the popularity of Daily Kos, it doesn't mention that if one looks at Truth Laid Bear's traffic ranking rather than its link ranking, one sees that the aggregate traffic rankings of all the liberal blogs in the Top 20 (for instance) are substantially higher than the aggregate traffic rankings of all the "conservative" blogs in the Top 20. Wouldn't that have been more relevant than the link-count-based data -- or at least a useful counterpoint to the data?

And all this, it seems to me, helps show why "the conservative attack on the press" has been "particularly damaging." Whether blogs are trying to condemn "liberal bias" or simply point out mistakes, they -- much more than the media has been -- are media critics, who alert readers that they shouldn't believe everything they read. And this helps produce a healthy skepticism of the media, much as the media in past decades has produced a healthy skepticism of other institutions.