Thursday, March 29, 2007

Garance Franke-Ruta vs. Ann Althouse

I watched this YouTube video of TAPPED blogger Garance Franke-Ruta and Ann Althouse, who claims to be kind of liberal but sounds more like a committed twit here:

Ann Althouse and the Jessica Valenti Breast Controversy 

The "Jessica Valenti" controversy had to do with some catty crack Althouse made about a woman who was photographed in a large group of bloggers meeting with Bill Clinton. Althouse criticized her appearance like some small-town scold because she thought what she was wearing made it too apparent that she has breasts. And she wasn't talking about some low-cut. As far as I could see, Jessica in that photo was dressed "professional casual" and, well, women have breasts. Althouse's criticism seemed hopelessly dumb to me.

I link the YouTube video because it's a good example of the kind of aggressive defensiveness - or maybe just plain bullying behavior is a better word for it - that so many rightwingers use to try to intimidate their critics. I've seen this clip described as Althouse "losing it", but I don't think that's quite what happened. She was whining about how those nasty liberals say bad things about her and asked Garance to account for those bad liberals' misbehavior.

Garance was trying to be polite and professional, it seemed, which is hard to do when your discussion partner suddenly goes OxyContin on you. Garance said, presumably honestly, that she didn't really know what Althouse meant, although she had heard something about the "Jessica Valenti Breast Controversy". That's when Althouse goes into OxyContin mode and rags on Garance for supposedly smearing her and committing character assassination. Garance tries for several minutes to get her off the subject but Althouse rants on and on.

She was a lot more polite than I would have been in that situation. That's not a criticism. Because Garance comes off looking and sounding like she was there to discuss more substantive issues and trying to stick to the topics that presumably the original viewers were there to hear about. I probably would have come across as considerably less sympathetic, because I would have tried to cut her off at the first accusation of "character assassination" and insisted that Althouse change the subject or end the discussion.

But it looks clear to me that Althouse set up the rant by whining to Garance about those meanie liberals being unkind to her and asking her to explain it. And since the "Jessica Valenti" controversy was the most recent one I'd heard about - in my case, the only time that Ann Althouse's name had stuck in my mind about anything - it wasn't surprising that it would come up if Garance tried to respond at all to her whiny question. And then she jumped on the chance to pose as the righteously outraged lady being picked on by nasty liberals.

The woman's obviously a cheap bully. She may have some kind of career in rightwing punditry.

Garance Franke-Ruta has a further comment on
The Bloggingheads Affair at her own blog, TheGarance 03/27/07 .


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