Unloading on Salon.Com’s Scott Rosenberg

Salon.Com’s managing editor Scott Rosenberg made the mistake of castigating weblogger Damian Penny, who was the first to draw attention to Salon’s 9/11 feature that includes dozens of tasteless and crass thoughts about the terrorist attacks. In one letter, for example, an anonymous writer complains that he hates his dad and wishes he hadn’t survived the World Trade Center attack. Another letter simply says, “2001 was a great year for me; I hated the twin towers and I hated the Taliban and now they’re both gone!”

Rosenberg offers an extremely lame justification for running this feature on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and the warbloggers are unloading on him in the comments section of his weblog.

Penny asked what Salon.Com could have been thinking running this, and Rosenberg responds that,

We were thinking precisely this: That an orthodoxy has coalesced around 9/11, and that one good role of journalism is to puncture orthodoxies. That the range of human response to 9/11 was a lot wider than that reflected in the media orgy of 9/11 retrospectives. And that it’s probably a lot healthier to air such responses than to pretend that they don’t exist.

The “one good role of journalism is to puncture orthodoxies” is a standard excuse used by journalists to justify bad decisions. I’m surprised that Rosenberg didn’t follow it up with the other standard excuse, that the American public has “a right to know” (you know, CBS had to show the Daniel Pearl videotape — the public had a right to know. Didn’t have anything to do with ratings, no sir).

Rosenberg then takes issue with Penny’s suggestion that it would be a good thing if Salon.Com went bankrupt.

But before you wish that Salon goes bankrupt, may I ask how you pay your bills, and how you’d feel if someone wished the same on the source of your livelihood? When did political disagreement turn into a license to wish that your opponents lose their jobs, or worse (cf. Ann Coulter’s comment, “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building”)? Good night.

See, this is where it’s obvious that the whole “puncturing orthodoxies” line is nonsense. When Salon.Com publishes dozens of tasteless letters about 9/11, it’s simply doing its job. But when someone directs a mildly offensive statement at Salon, all bets are off the table. How dare this mere weblogger try to puncture Salon.Com’s orthodoxies. That’s just uncalled for.

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