Restaurateurs are slowly starting to go on the record with hatred for the food blogs (example), citing a slew of sneaky and unscrupulous, often self-serving, tendencies that make dealing with bloggers impossible. While we've never considered Eater a food blog per se -- we're a restaurant blog -- Mario Batali certainly has. And he's not happy with us or food blogs in general. Because Mario will always be a hero of ours, like us or not, we've asked Molto Mario to do his venting here. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the very latest in food blogger hating technology, Why I Hate Food Bloggers, By Mr. Mario Batali.
I do not really HATE anything or anybody, it takes too much energy to hate, and I would rather dog someone/thing sotto voce to the large audience than spend a lot of time hating them/it. But blogs live by different rules. Many of the anonymous authors who vent on blogs rant their snarky vituperatives from behind the smoky curtain of the web. This allows them a peculiar and nasty vocabulary that seems to be taken as truth by virtue of the fact that it has been printed somewhere. Unfortunately, this also allows untruths, lies and malicious and personally driven dreck to be quoted as fact. Even a savvy blog like the one you are reading now has strangely superseded truly responsible journalism. It is much more immediate and can skip a lot of the ponderous setup necessary in a news article. It cuts right to the heart of a matter, often disputing it as though real research has taken place.
Take the following quote from yesterday's summation of the battle between landlord and tenant, our restaurant Del Posto, at 85 10th avenue. I quote:
Since we've haven't mentioned this story in a while, let's review: In January of 2006 it became clear that Del Posto had violated their lease agreement by building in spaces not expressly listed in their least agreement (the extent of these violations wasn't clear) and that Somerset Partners intended to use these violations to get rid of the Batali/Bastianich restaurant and the sweetheart lease they'd negotiated on the space...It became clear that Del Posto had violated their lease? To whom?? If you follow the blue bold link, it takes you to the original piece driven by a factoid written by the hapless NY Post real estate/food hack Braden Keil who has hated me for as long as I can remember, not that he has any value to journalism anyway. That's who. The perception of the reader will be that, as any idiot can see, these greedy fools have swashbuckled their poor landlord and stolen property and only God knows how they will pay for such a scam.
Even a cursory examination of the facts would have landed anyone -- such as all of the courts who ruled in our favor -- with the conclusion that it was nothing more than a classic shakedown. The Somerset Partners, after spending more than $1.3 million of their principals' cash unanswered and unsupported by even a morsel of gain, backed way down and off of the field to lick their wounds in their $40 million townhouses. What you did not read yesterday is that they sold the building 14 months later for something like a hundred million smackers in profit. So the reader has no option to assemble a version of the story that includes the Somerset partners' gain. Nobody is served in the end.
My broader point is that the casual and serious reader alike cannot possibly hold the anonymous blogosphere accountable. I think, in fact, many of the readers know this and enjoy the fun. But the blog is now a new partner, and this bit of shoddy journalism will be picked up and promulgated by the rest of the gray zone and march its merry way toward the center of the road. Eventually these blog posts become factual information lost in the sauce.
But, in the end, I do not hate the blogger. I just expect, and want, more from many of them.