‘NUTPICKING’ HASN’T GONE AWAY…. I’d hoped we were past this.

Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported news that a Muslim cab driver in New York City had been assaulted by a passenger simply because of his faith. […]

Today on Fox News, right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin discussed the incident and argued that the real story is not about the hate crime, but rather, the progressive blogosphere. “Something really ugly happened,” she said. “Time and again, when something like this happens — any random incident of violence — there are people on the left with a knee-jerk impulse to indict the right.” As evidence, Malkin pointed to comments left on ThinkProgress.

Note, Malkin wasn’t offended by what ThinkProgress wrote; she was offended when she dug through the comments section and found reactions she found distasteful.

Ben Armbruster highlights the fact that Malkin insists she bears no responsibility for what people say in her own comments section, making her entire line of argument rather odd.

But when I say we should be past this by now, I mean this is an old trick for right-wing bloggers that ceased to be interesting years ago.

For a long while, it was a standard strategy — trawl through liberal comments sections in the hopes of finding provocative remarks. The right then would then take those comments to “prove” that the left is made up of intemperate meanies.

The practice has always been rather self-defeating. In fact, four years ago this month, on this very blog, Kevin Drum came up with a sensible maxim: “If you’re forced to rely on random blog commenters to make a point about the prevalence of some form or another of disagreeable behavior, you’ve pretty much made exactly the opposite point.” Eventually, the practice was even given a name: “Nutpicking.”

The practice seemed to die down for a while. I guess Malkin is trying to bring it back?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.