Rather had denounced his blogging nemeses as “partisan political operatives”, but it was left to another television executive, Jonathan Klein, to inspire a resonant image appropriate to this series on buzzwords. Surveying the bloggers, he declared: “You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances (in television news) and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.”
Given a sense of history, Klein might have realised that a considered and satisfying sneer is infuriatingly liable to be appropriated with pride by its target. Methodism and neoconservatism both started life as terms of abuse. The guys in pajamas likewise speedily adopted for themselves the felicitous collective term “Pajamahadeen”.
Conventional journalists criticise bloggers for being parasitic rather than investigative, and Pajamahadeen, with its metaphorical connotations of guerrilla warfare, scarcely dispels that suspicion. It is admittedly a ready vehicle for dilettantes bearing grudges, and at its worst it attracts political obscurantists. But at its best it offers additional checks and balances on the flow of information.
Had there been an equivalent force in this country — a Pyjamahadeen to match the Pajamahadeen — the Hutton inquiry might not have been necessary. Concerted scrutiny on the internet of that notorious broadcast might have spared the BBC later embarrassment — and the rest of us Greg Dyke’s self-regarding memoir.