Some people in the media, especially activists and pundits, feel a compulsion to stay visible in the public eye either because of ego or because that is how they make their living by giving talks and selling books and the like. The way they do that whenever they sense that they are being forgotten is to troll for attention. In an earlier post, I said that it was easy to be a conservative troll. All you had to do was say something outrageous or extreme that would anger or at least annoy and exasperate liberals who would then rise up and condemn you.
I also said that I found it hard to think about how to be a successful liberal troll. But I think that I have found the secret and that is that a liberal troll gains attention by adopting a conservative position on some issue. In other words, the secret to political trolling whether you are conservative or liberal is to say something to annoy liberals.
A case in point is Michael Kinsley, considered by many to be a liberal. He was picked by the New York Times to review Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide and he addresses the question of who should get to decide to reveal government secrets. His answer: the government.
The question is who decides. It seems clear, at least to me, that the private companies that own newspapers, and their employees, should not have the final say over the release of government secrets, and a free pass to make them public with no legal consequences. In a democracy (which, pace Greenwald, we still are), that decision must ultimately be made by the government.
The response to Kinsley’s piece has been fierce. Greenwald of course responded while Digby provided a detailed takedown of this and earlier Kinsley writings. Kevin Gosztola, Erik Wemple, and Barry Eisler have also weighed in.
So if Kinsley was seeking attention, he succeeded. So the secret to being a troll seems to be: if you are conservative, say something outrageous even by conservative standards; and if you are liberal, then say something conservative. In both cases, successful media trolling involves annoying liberals.