Maybe Belmont is hiring?

Byline: | Category: Blogging, Media, Military, TN Politics | Posted at: Thursday, 31 May 2007

UPDATED BELOW:

In case you’ve missed the local internet dustup in Nashville, let me fill you in. 

WKRN, our local ABC-affiliated television station, employs two paid full-time political bloggers.  One, Brittney Gilbert of Nashville is Talking, is as far left as you’ll find on the internet.  The other, Adam “A.C.” Kleinheider of Volunteer Voters, is so “hard right” (the name of his previous blog) that he proves either the Jersey rule: “three rights makes a left,” or my “politics is a sphere, not a spectrum” dictum, whereby I hypothesize that if you go far enough in either direction you bump into your opposites on the dark side of the political globe. 

Well, A.C., who must have been abused as a boy by Fred Thompson for all the unfounded grief that he’s given the former Tennessee Senator, once again gleefully lit into Thompson over a lengthy and poorly produced YouTube attack video. 

Not content to scorch just Thompson, Kleinheider also hit another of his favorite targets: the military–more specifically, soldiers,who are just under-educated pawns, by the way.  Gilbert then seconded the opinion herself.

All this would escape my usual notice, since if I used my blog to comment every time one of WKRN’s bloggers wrote something imbecilic, I’d probably push up against my server storage limits.  However, after what happened on the Steve Gill show Wednesday, I had to weigh in. 

Gill, a syndicated radio talkshow host (and btw, a WKRN contract employee himself),  took Kleinheider to task for comparing U.S. military troops to mafia hit men.  He then asked listeners to contact the television station regarding the future employment of the two.  Various Tennessee bloggers then worked themselves into a tizzy defending Gilbert and Kleinheider’s jobs.

What makes that particularly ironic is the role that these same two bloggers took in the firing last year of another popular local political blogger.

The cynic in me thinks that the whole thing is just a WKRN publicity stunt coordinated between its new management to try and improve the station’s ratings, both on and offline.  After all, how embarrassing (not to mention, expensive) it must be for a television station to employ two paid, bloggers, only one of whom actually rivals the readership of BillHobbs.com, a local political blogger who does his work for free.wkrn_comparison1.png

(The yellow is BillHobbs.com, the red line is NashvilleisTalking, and the blue line that you can almost see at the bottom–that’s VolunteerVoters.)

Another part of me realizes again that since the departure of Teddy Bart from the airwaves and Roger Abramson from the Nashville Scene, this town is in desperate need of another semi-mainstream outlet that offers political conversation that is funny without being mean, and insightful without being inciteful. 

Finally, if Gilbert and Kleineider do get their pink slips, there is someone they can turn to for help:  Bill Hobbs.  In addition to being an amateur political blogger, Hobbs is also a blogging consultant who has helped individuals and businesses establish their own blogospheric presence.

That would be especially ironic, since it was Hobbs who was the local blogger fired after Gilbert and Kleinheider threw gasoline on an internet firestorm last April.

MORE:

Nashville City Paper
NiT
VV

UPDATE:

Just to be clear, I do not advocate firing Gilbert and Kleinheider over their content.  The job of media personalities is to drive advertising revenue.  If they are doing that by being what some may think is offensive, then the problem is not with the speaker, but with the listeners.  That’s how the market works.  If enough people disagree with what is being said, advertising revenue falls.

Frankly, I’m surprised that Steve Gill called into question their jobs. Conservative employees of media companies are the last people who should want to establish the precedent that what you say and how you say it should be grounds for dismissal. Conservatives, after all, aren’t exactly dominant in a whole lot of newsrooms around the country.

All that being said, I reiterate again the need for a conversational political forum in Nashville.  There isn’t one, and while NiT and VV have a particular niche, that’s not really theirs.  (And, no, I’m not throwing my virtual resume out there.) 

However, if Roger Abramson could be persuaded . . .

FOLLOW-UP

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45 Responses to “Maybe Belmont is hiring?”

  1. brittney Says:

    “Idiot pawns”? Nope, he never said that. “One of them is a contract employee”? No, sorry that is wrong.

    You’ve got some factual errors here you might want to change.

  2. brittney Says:

    As of this morning I have triple that amount of traffic that Bill Hobbs has. This week alone I have quadruple the amount of uniques.

    Unique Average Per Day 411–Bill Hobbs
    Unique Average Per Day 1,693–Nashville is Talking
    Page Views Average Per Day 685–Bill Hobbs
    Page Views Average Per Day 4,089–Nashville is Talking

    So, while your tiny little graph is cute and all, it doesn’t really tell the whole story. As of this week I have 5 times the number of total page hits as Hobbs.

    I may be mean, but I take my traffic very seriously. Hobbs tried to say he outdid me in readership almost a year ago. That, no surprise considering the source, was highly inaccurate. If your readers want a clear and accurate look at the numbers both Hobbs and I publish our stats at our blogs. The digits speak for themselves.

  3. bob Says:

    I’ve changed the reference to a contract employee. As for “idiot pawns”, read the link. He didn’t use those words exactly, but it was clearly his meaning.

  4. brittney Says:

    “What makes that particularly ironic is the role that these same two bloggers took in the firing last year of another popular local political blogger.”

    Refresh my memory. I remember reporting on his getting firing for the insensitive cartoon denigrating an entire religion, but I don’t remember my own role beyond blogging that it happened.

  5. Volunteer Voters » Couldn’t Have Picked A Better Day For This To Happen Says:

    [...] Glen Dean Ginerator Bob Krumm Instapundit The Colleague (II) Aunt B Smantix Blue Collar Muse Terry Frank (II) Brittney’s [...]

  6. bob Says:

    Again, follow the links.

  7. mike Says:

    This is not a post worthy of you at all Bob. As a Vietnam vet I didn’t like Kleinheider’s reference to “button men” and “pawns” any more than Steve Gill did but as Brittney pointed out he did not say “idiot pawns.” That is your interpretation but you make sound as if he said it and you know better than most that is just plain wrong. And to single them out in the Bill Hobbs/Belmont dustup is just as bad when you know most of the Nashville bloggers were posting about it at the time, many of them much more partisan than Brittney and AC.

    Also, Alexa is pointless to use as an example for online “ratings.” It only counts visitors who have an Alexa toolbar installed and warns you of that fact right up front. It can also be easily gamed which has been pointed out many times online and most web savvy people in the advertising community will roll their eyes when Alexa is brought up in regards to ratings.

  8. bob Says:

    Mike,
    AC labeled the military, “young boys who couldn’t even get in to community college.” I summarized with the word “idiots.” A stretch, perhaps, but not much of one. Not to mention untrue.

  9. The Business Of Blogging « Newscoma Says:

    [...] As Instapundit has picked it up, I expect everyone involved will have an Instalanche today for VV, Nit, Gill and Bob Krumm. [...]

  10. brittney Says:

    Thanks, Mike. For the support and the information about the inferiority of Alexa. Looks like I need to do a little reading about it.

  11. The Business Of Blogging « Tastes Geek, Less Filling Says:

    [...] As Instapundit has picked it up, I expect everyone involved will have an Instalanche today for VV, Nit, Gill and Bob Krumm. [...]

  12. Bill Hobbs Says:

    Alexa data is fairly worthless. But so is Sitemeter, which everyone seems to love.

    Sitemeter is woefully inaccurate.

    My site had more than 36,000 unique visitors in April – averages about 30,000 a month – according to my web server’s internal tracking software.

    This month alone my site has served up nearly 100,000 RSS feeds.

    I can’t compare that to NiT or VV, because I don’t have their internal stats. But the comparison is apples to oranges. They blog for money and ratings, I blog for impact on the political process and the media, and I know I am effective doing that.

    Also, I’ve been blogging less at BillHobbs.com lately because I’ve been posting a lot more at ElephantBiz.com, which is doing rather nicely in the traffic department.

    You want to compare NiT, VV and BillHobbs.com? Do a Technorati comparison.

    NiT rank: 7,549
    VV rank: 60,722
    BillHobbs.com rank: 4,915
    ElephantBiz.com rank: 20,023

  13. brittney Says:

    Yep, I think Technorati is the fairest, most simple way. It hikes up the ranking of long-established weblogs, as it should.

  14. Sean Braisted Says:

    In fairness to Kleinheider, his Technorati numbers vary because of the two different addresses.

    http://www.news2wkrn.com/vv – Authority: 226 · Rank: 18,174

    http://www.volunteervoters.com – Authority: 77 · Rank: 60,722

  15. bob Says:

    Sean raises a good point. When I performed the Alexa search, I used the volunteervoters.com address. Presumably, a comparison using the other URL wouldn’t leave Kleinheider’s numbers looking so anemic.

    And to clarify, I’m not arguing that Kleinheider/Gilbert should be fired. In fact, if they should be, it would be for ratings reasons rather than because of a stupid post–something all bloggers have done from time to time.

  16. brittney Says:

    Same goes for me on the two different addresses.

  17. brittney Says:

    Really, if you are going to “go there” on insinuating we should be fired for “ratings,” you really ought to get it together first. Those are lazy, surface comparisons above, at best.

  18. john h Says:

    Bob – I think the word ‘idiot’ is a bit of a stretch from what ACK ACTually said. Your blog is well-read and has credibility. Adding words that don’t exist when you are referring to other pieces has more impact than some of us lesser lights would if we mis-quoted others.

  19. bob Says:

    John H is one those guys who I use to keep me between the lines. So if he calls it out as unfair, I’ll add a quantifier to the original post.

  20. brittney Says:

    “John H is one those guys who I use to keep me between the lines.”

    Good call, me too.

  21. newscoma Says:

    Bob, I’m glad you are taking John’s advice. You are highly read and you do have credibility in the blogging world.
    I’m pleased to see you are going to add a quantifier, especially since you will be receiving a great deal of traffic today from the Instapundit link and I think citing your opinion of the interpretation of what ACK said and what he actually wrote is a good idea.

  22. PolicyMedia Says:

    Good summary of the events of the day. Hope you’ll keep readers posted on new developments.

  23. Webutante Says:

    Since I don’t focus on local politics and blogspats, or even read my old alma mater, The Tennessean, much anymore, I count on you and Bill to keep me up to speed on what’s goin on that’s worth my local energy.

    Great to be alerted to this. Met Steve Gill for the first time last week, and just picked up his new book on Thompson. Now reading and intending posts on it soon.

    Thanks for reporting on this, Bob. Very interesting…

  24. Donny Brooke Says:

    “The other, Adam “A.C.” Kleinheider of Volunteer Voters, is so “hard right” (the name of his previous blog) that he proves either the Jersey rule: “three rights makes a left,” or my “politics is a sphere, not a spectrum” dictum, whereby I hypothesize that if you go far enough in either direction you bump into your opposites on the dark side of the political globe. ”

    This is more true of people who tend to fall along the statist right-left political spectrum — and AC often seems more libertarian than typically right wing, even though he doesn’t lay claim to that label. Libertarians, who oppose government intervention into most matters of private, peaceable behavior, can’t really be accurately placed on the left-right spectrum the same way communists, contemporary liberals, conservatives and fascists can — none of whom hesitate using the blunt instrument of government to whatever ends they choose once they wrest control of the levers of power from their adversaries.

    In fact, the predictable actions of the right-wing Steve Gill on this freedom-of-speech dust up come a little closer to “bumping in to” what you might expect out of some howling, lefty PC “progressive,” whose first impulse, when he hears or reads something with which he disagrees or finds offensive, is to try to get the speaker or writer fired (see Don Imus and Rev. Al).

  25. Katherine Coble Says:

    I’m never a fan of rooting for anyone to lose his or her job.

    I never really got the opinion that BG or ACK were happy about Bill’s ouster from Belmont, but it’s been so long now that perhaps I’m not recalling correctly.

    However, even had they been the loudest proponents of Hobbs’ job loss, I would think that as Christians it would be better to do unto others as we would LIKE them to do to us…not as they have done to us in the past.

    So clapping hands in glee over NiT/VV going away doesn’t seem like the best way to play it.

    In addition I would also submit that NiT/VV are of value in serving as a rallying-point for community. They themselves may or may not be highly-rated. But they do drive traffic to WKRN, to that I can personally attest.

  26. Low Blows « Just Another Pretty Farce Says:

    [...] But there is one thing I cannot abide at all. And that’s calling for someone else’s job. [...]

  27. Nashville is Talking » Steve Gill vs. Communist Idiot Bloggers 2007: A Round-Up Says:

    [...] Bob Krumm: Another part of me realizes again that since the departure of Teddy Bart from the airwaves and Roger Abramson from the Nashville Scene, this town is in desperate need of another semi-mainstream outlet that offers political conversation that is funny without being mean, and insightful without being inciteful. [...]

  28. mike hollihan Says:

    Bob, you touch on something that has yet to be decided on, but which the situation you’ve blogged is a good example: Gilbert and Kleinheider are both employees of WKRN.

    Yes, they are bloggers, not reporters or journalists. They have (and should have) wide latitude to write as they want. But as employees of a television station, they come under a host of precedent and regulation going back through to the Communications Act of 1937 and even the Radio Act of 1926.

    Basically, in 1926, the Federal government took over the radio waves and operated them as a public good. They took the right to grant and revoke licenses in the public interest, which included the content of programming. It’s been that way ever since, including the introduction of television.

    It’s why people don’t often get why cable programming can be so one-sided, can use profanity or show nudity, while broadcast stations can’t. It’s the law! Broadcast is controlled by the government; cable is a private enterprise.

    That’s why we have had such things as the Fairness Doctrine, the children’s television hour, equal time, public television, no obscenity or profanity, etc. Various interests push the FCC to act, in the “public good,” to clean up the airwaves in one way or another.

    It’s why Steve Gill becoming a television news commentator was such a big deal. He’s not “balanced.” He isn’t (nor should he be made to be) neutral, objective, disinterested or dispassionate. The usual run of news commentators are bland to the point of pablum. They have to be to keep the station from running afoul of the FCC by angry viewers.

    It’s going to be the same for Kleinheider and Gilbert, one day. Hobbs tried to point this out to Gilbert a while back, but she was uninformed about television history and the law, and couldn’t listen. What they are doing is just fine from a blogging POV, but from the POV of a licensed television station, it’s unsettled and unclear. The station can put disclaimers around their sites, and keep the station branding as minimal as possible, but they ARE employees of a licensed station and some day someone will get angry enough to make an issue of it to the FCC.

    There have already been efforts to renew the Fairness Doctrine in recent years. Station bloggers may become another point of contention in that battle. The result will likely not be adding another blogger for “balance,” but forcing the lone blogger to be “balanced, neutral and objective.”

    Remember: it’s all Wild West days right now, but sooner or later the wagons from back East start streaming in and the new folks want laws like they had back home. The government shows up sooner or later. The frontier begins to go away and everything starts looking familiar again.

  29. Aunt B. Says:

    Hollihan inadvertently brings up an important point in the long sordid history of this whole affair: Hobbs and Gilbert have a history that, to those of us on the outside, appeared ugly, mean-spirited, and at times cruel in regards to Hobbs’s attitude towards Gilbert, especially when she was just feeling her way in a job that she’s the first person to ever have.

    To typify this as if “Oh, Gilbert and Kleinheider might lose their jobs, ha ha ha. Wouldn’t that be funny considering how they had a hand in getting poor, innocent, non-confrontational Hobbs run off from Belmont?” overlooks the months of bad blood between Hobbs and Gilbert, instigated by Hobbs before that.

    I blogged loudly that it was wrong that Hobbs lost his job and I still believe that, but dang, let’s not revise history and make the man into a saint.

    And, please, let’s not act like a bully throwing his weight around trying to get a couple of bloggers run out of their jobs is a victory for anyone.

  30. Bill Hobbs Says:

    Actually, I like BG and ACK and have no hard feelings toward either of them personally. I’ve taken issue with ACK ideologically and with BG professionally regarding journalistic ethics, but that’s about it.

    And, hey, it’s the blogosphere, you’re supposed to take a stand, be analytical, criticize when warranted, take issue with, and be confrontational at times.

  31. Aunt B. Says:

    Yes, I completely agree. I think that’s what makes it such a marvelous place: we can criticize, take issue with, and be confrontational at times.

    That’s what makes me so angry when people start trying to bully other people out of jobs; it takes what’s best about this medium and turns it against us.

    No one should be taking any pleasure in that.

  32. brittney Says:

    “Hobbs worked in PR for Belmont. In that capacity, you and everything about you represent the university. That’s just the way it is in that business. I once worked in PR for an agency that represented Don Sundquist. While employed, I did not attend Democratic fundraisers or parties and was careful in my public involvement with noted Memphis Democrats. Because that’s what you do when you’re in PR–you’re careful. Bill wasn’t and he learned a tough lesson. Had he been in a position such as professor or some other administrator other than dean or president, I don’t think his dismissal would have been warranted.

    Brittney and Adam, however, were hired to to write blogs, not act as ambassadors for the TV station (though they have been cast as such by many people outside the station) and what they write and report is merely par for the course. There’s simply no parallel.” –Lesley
    http://mycropht.wordpress.com/2007/05/31/low-blows/#comment-8960

  33. Katherine Coble Says:

    What makes that particularly ironic is the role that these same two bloggers took in the firing last year of another popular local political blogger.

    I’ve gone through all the archives and cannot for the life of me see where BG & ACK had one single thing to do with getting Hobbs resigned.

    They were reporting a story, well within the scope of their jobs, when they gave the initial coverage to Kopp’s fervid peace and the subsequent breakdown.

    As a smart, well-informed blogger once said
    “Those are objects of news coverage and I have a complete right to republish them as illustrations of my story. ”

    Oh yeah. That was Bill Hobbs.

  34. brittney Says:

    I’m sure Krumm is just channeling Reagan here. “Facts are stupid things.”

  35. bob Says:

    Katherine,
    The post was this one.

    http://www.nashvilleistalking.com/2006/04/05/pro-bryson-blogger-stirs-the-pot/

    I’ve know Hobbs for many years and while we never see eye to eye on the issues, I’ve generally found him to be fairly reasonable to deal with.

    But Hobbs has shown me a darker side to his mind with his insensitive, moronic site.
    I have no quarrel with a person’s right to free speech, but as a Christian I believe this kind of expression goes against all the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

    This prompts me to want to ask candidate “man of faith” Jim Bryson if he condones this kind of distasteful insensitivity to people of other faiths; and it also prompts me to want to contact Bob Fisher, the president of Belmont University, to inquire if he too believes this kind of expression is in line with the University’s mission to promote and uphold Christian values.

    When Mike Kopp, a political hack, but an effective one nonetheless, wrote that on his little-read spin site no-one would have cared.

    But Kopp is effective because he knows that he can throw something like that out there and someone will pick up on it. Brittney quoted the entire paragraph and gave it a wider audience.

    Where he worked was irrelevant. It addded nothing to the story–or even Brittney’s summary of it–which at the time was all about whether or not gubernatorial candidate Jim Bryson should be affiliated with Hobbs and his writings.

    Read that last paragraph again:
    “This prompts me to want to ask candidate “man of faith” Jim Bryson if he condones this kind of distasteful insensitivity to people of other faiths;”

    If Brittney had stopped at the semi-colon it wouldn’t have changed the crux of her post one iota. But she didn’t. She rebroadcast the call for his job. (But, hey, didn’t I just inadvertently do that? Fair enough, and I’ll amend the above so that people know that’s not my message).

    Perhaps Brittney was just an unwitting pawn (how’s that for coming full circle?), but she made his employer part of the story to a larger audience than Kopp’s tiny blog ever was.

    As for Lesley’s comment (quoted by Brittney above), she’s wrong. AC and Brittney are not hired to write blogs. They are hired to create advertising revenue. Blogging may be how they do it, but it is not what they do. That’s what makes msm-employed bloggers different from us other 71 million schmucks.

    I do not think that they should be fired for what they wrote. I think it’s imbecilic, but so too, do they probably think that of much of what I write. If there is a firing here it should only be for a lack of production of revenue–either directly through on line advertising, or indirectly by creating traffic for WKRN’s other advertising venues. I don’t know whether or not that’s the case.

    The truth is, that this little dustup is probably giving them quite the traffic boost, so more power to them.

    What I am surprised by, is that Steve Gill called into question their jobs. Conservative employees of media companies are the last people who should want to establish the precedent that what you say and how you say it is grounds for dismissal. Conservatives, after all, aren’t exactly dominant in a whole lot of newsrooms around the country.

  36. brittney Says:

    You said: “Brittney drug the name of Bill’s employer into the the fray, which Kopp then Kopp/Spragens made part of their print story in the Scene. That was unnecessary.*

    Which, as you discovered after shooting off is patently and blatantly untrue. I expect you’ll clarify your statements here:
    http://mycropht.wordpress.com/2007/05/31/low-blows/#comments

  37. bob Says:

    Patently and blatantly untrue it is not. You had no need to drag Hobbs’ employer into the fray. It was a gratuitous shot.

    I knew when writing this post last night the exact quote where you first highlighted that irrelevant data point conveniently provided to you by a political hack. Twice. Even once earning a “Yeah” from you.

    Brittney, whether you acted passive-aggressively, or were a unwitting pawn, you were part of the reason that Belmont became part of the story, which, by the way, I’ve already said on Coble’s site before you mentioned it. Apparently, it’s awaiting approval.

  38. brittney Says:

    Whatever you say, Bob. How ever you want to spin it.

  39. Donna Locke Says:

    I recall the events and some postings and comments preceding and following, some much later, and Edgy Bob and I have something of the same impression. But the biggest jerks are Kopp and The Scene. Well, one less Bel to answer. As I told Bill at the time, sometimes things are taken apart so they can be put together in a new and better way.

  40. Donna Locke Says:

    And, as I observed at the time, it would have been nice if those who profess such concern for The Children weren’t so selective in such concern. When a parent loses a job, children suffer. Isn’t that what some of you have been howling about with the illegal aliens? I AM a parent. Tell me something I don’t know.

    I know some of you are hypocrites. You’ve showed me.

  41. Katherine Coble Says:

    When Mike Kopp, a political hack, but an effective one nonetheless, wrote that on his little-read spin site no-one would have cared.

    But Kopp is effective because he knows that he can throw something like that out there and someone will pick up on it. Brittney quoted the entire paragraph and gave it a wider audience.

    Brittney quotes a lot of things she doesn’t agree with, as have I at times.

    Even assuming she had the basest of motives in selecting this particular pull-quote, I do think you’ve created a grave mischaracterisation when you state that she “drug the name of his employer into the fray.”

    That was PURELY Mike Kopp’s doing.

  42. Katherine Coble Says:

    I know some of you are hypocrites. You’ve showed me.

    Who? Where? To what are you referring? I’m really confused.

  43. brittney Says:

    *I do think you’ve created a grave mischaracterisation when you state that she “drug the name of his employer into the fray.”

    That was PURELY Mike Kopp’s doing.*

    For real, it had already been broughten.

    Bob Krumm just lost his last shred of waning credibility with me, not that he cares or should care. Prior to his lost election he seemed a decent man. Since then my opinion has changed. But anyone who would misrepresent me over and over and over again (through the course of this thread alone), even after being presented with the facts, is nothing more than the political hack of which he so derisively speaks. There is a difference in being open and honest with your readers and building a community like I have at NIT and what you do here, which is suck up to Instapundit and other highly-read conservative blogs to get good numbers. Lots of guys sell out for hits. Sad, but typical of those without much of a “voice,” which he’s never really had. But when the blogger in charge here is willfully slandering others–for all his readers to watch–it is time for me to move on. Nothing to see here. Good fun for Bob, I’m sure, but I’m done.

  44. Slartibartfast Says:

    I’m glad I came along after this dustup y’all speak of. It seems to have gotten extremely personal. People get irrational when things get personal.

    But this:

    “All that being said, I reiterate again the need for a conversational political forum in Nashville. There isn’t one, and while NiT and VV have a particular niche, that’s not really theirs. (And, no, I’m not throwing my virtual resume out there.) ”

    is simply untrue, as I understand things. Not conversational? What are you on about, Bob?

  45. Bob Krumm » Perception is reality II Says:

    [...] Brittney Gilbert reacted venomously to the assertion that she was on the other side when it came to another blogger firing. Her statements at the time, taken in the context of her writings about that individual over a [...]