Glenn Reynolds Interview on C-Span
It was a good interview, although I wish Brian Lamb had pursued some deeper lines of questioning. I like Mr. Lamb’s low-key personal style, but sometimes his relaxed approach causes him to change subjects rather than draw out more substantial answers. (I don’t like the style of Charlie Rose as much, for example, but his interviews tend to be more penetrating.)
Many of the questions Mr. Lamb asked about Instapundit and blogging in general were on a somewhat introductory level. Still, Mr. Reynolds’s answers contained a lot of interesting information. And the most intriguing part of the interview had nothing to do with blogging.
Here’s what I found interesting (including from the transcript which I’ve since read):
- Reynolds started Instapundit because he taught Internet law at the University of Tennessee. He “thought it would be kind of a fun experiment” and expected at most “a couple of hundred readers.”
- While working for a Wall Street law firm, he wrote a book on space law. The law firm was Dewey Ballantine, and “Dewey” was the man who almost defeated Truman (as in this famous photo).
- He does not consider himself a political conservative despite his reputation, and thinks he is presumed to be one solely because of his stance on the war.
- His father Charles was a moderately famous anti-war protestor during Vietnam. He was once charged with a misdemeanor for protesting at a Billy Graham revival, where Richard Nixon was a guest speaker. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and Charles Reynolds lost. It is unclear whether he ever paid the small fine. (This is the non-blogging part that I found most interesting. See below for the case citation.)
- Reynolds does Instapundit entirely on his own, except for including occasional guest bloggers. “I do everything. I write all the posts. I read all the e-mail.” (I would like to hear more about how he can possibly handle all that work while still being a professor.)
- The word “blogosphere” was invented by Bill Quick.
- The first blog Reynolds saw was “Kausfiles,” by Mickey Kaus (who now blogs at Slate here).
- “When you are on the Internet as much as I am now, the television news is always stale.”
- He never had a marketing plan, and doesn’t really know why he gained so many readers. He just kept blogging and the audience increased.
- He is able to eliminate a lot of redundant email because of his Gmail account, which shows him the first line of every e-mail along with the subject line.
- The Instapundit sitemeter is completely public. (And reading the statistics is a bit intimidating.)
There’s much more here, but that’s enough to give readers a taste. As the man himself would say, read the whole thing.
Also, I found the case involving Charles Reynolds, Glenn’s father, on Lexis. This was the case involving a Billy Graham revival which included a guest appearance by Richard Nixon. Charles Reynolds was fined $20 for protesting there. The case is Reynolds v. Tennessee, 414 U.S. 1163 (1974). The opinion was a simple denial of cert, over a brief but impassioned dissent by Justice Douglas. The case makes for interesting reading just on the facts alone.
Here is the conclusion of J. Douglas’s dissent:
“By grounding petitioner's conviction on his participation in the planning of the protest the state appellate courts place criminal liability on freedom of expression in its most pristine form. Petitioner's role was not contested. He attended the meetings and voiced his approval of some form of protest against the President's appearance, but it appears that at virtually every opportunity he urged the group to keep its protest peaceful and silent. He cannot be held liable because some members of the group chose to express their views in an illegal manner, particularly when, as here, there is no evidence that the group ever agreed to conduct its protest unlawfully or that petitioner ever acquiesced in such a decision. Nor was petitioner charged with conspiracy. I would grant the petition for certiorari.” Reynolds, 414 U.S. at 1171 (1974).