Bloggers to Parker: Drop dead
I knew it was only a matter of time before Robert Parker came into the gunsights of the bloggers. They’ve already picked apart me and Wine Spectator, so it was way past time for the Biggest Critic in the World to get creamed.
The leader of the pack was my friend Joe Roberts, over at 1WineDude blog, and when I call him my friend, I mean it. We got off to a rough start last summer over that Rockaway wine, and then, when he announced he hoped I’d kick his ass at the Bloggers Conference, I didn’t know whether or not I should bring my nunchuk before going up to Santa Rosa. But as it turned out Joe was all smiles and charm and we got alone fine, and now 1WineDude is one of my favorite blogs, and Joe comments on mine with some regularity. So all is good.
Anyhow, Joe socked it to Parker in a long post the other day. If I can summarize it, he was irked by some comments RJP made about bloggers, namely they are “rumor-mongering” and “irresponsible” [Bob didn’t say all of them, but still, it was trash talk]. RJP also referred to “second-hand reports or rumors bereft of careful analysis.” To add insult to injury, he wrote that some “notorious blogs” are written by people who can’t “string a noun and a verb together.”
Tough stuff. As another blogger, who has subscribed to The Wine Advocate for 20 years, wrote, “In all my days as a subscriber, I have NEVER seen him initiate a fight in the pages of the Wine Advocate. Today, he did.”
Let’s break this down. Parker should not have written what he did. It was wrong of him to be so dismissive of the entire blogosphere, and in such an angry way. If he had a quarrel with a particular blog post someplace, he should have identified it and framed a specific response. Instead, he seems to have slung mud in a promiscuous way, tarring the entire wine blogosphere. That kind of McCarthyite smear should be beneath someone of Parker’s stature.
Why did he lash out as he did? Only his therapist knows for sure. There’s got to be some insecurity there. Why would the World’s Greatest Critic be insecure? Does he think the bloggers are a threat to him?
Look, the guy’s still got clout. Before his re-evaluation of the 2008 Bordeaux vintage, prices were nose-diving. Afterward, my friend Gary Cowan, who owns Fine Wines International (a very upscale San Francisco wine store), told me that prices soared virtually overnight. So Parker’s position is secure.
Well, at least with Bordeaux, which is a strange market. But maybe he fears he’s losing influence elsewhere. I don’t want to play armchair shrink. I just really wonder what caused his outburst. We Baby Boomer wine writers shouldn’t be disrespecting the bloggers or unduly criticizing them.
Now, obviously there are some bad wine bloggers out there who can’t write well. There are some who don’t know squat about wine, and yak about it anyway. Yes, Bob’s got a point. He just made it in a really stupid, temper-tantrum way, and I think it has hurt him.
When I read 1WineDude’s post, I had numerous reactions. One was: Dude, calm down. Don’t take it so personally. But the more I thought it the more I decided that Joe had a right to take such offense. He stood up for his posse and he did it well.
Mea culpa alert!!! [added after this was published]: I referred to Parker as RJP when in fact it’s RMP. Sorry bout that.