A TOOL, NOT A REVOLUTION. Bloggers didn't force the resignation of Janet Cooke from the Washington Post. Stephen Glass did not depart from the New Republic under a hail of Little Green Footballs. Ditto for Patricia Smith and Mike Barnicle at the Boston Globe, Jayson Blair at the New York Times, and Jack Kelley at USA Today.
Yes, the departure of all these miscreants might have occurred more quickly if bloggers had been deconstructing their work in real time. In particular, the Post might have been spared from actually having to return Cooke's Pulitzer. But the notion that the MSM (and hasn't that acronym grown tiresome already?) never took care of their own until the bloggers came along is ridiculous on its face.
The theme of the day is that the bloggers took down Eason Jordan just as they took down Dan Rather, and good God almighty, what have they wrought? Please. Jordan went down because he'd been on double secret probation since his outrageous 2003 op-ed in the New York Times, in which he admitted that CNN had played down the crimes of Saddam Hussein in part to maintain the network's access. After two members of Congress, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, went public with their anger over Jordan's suggestion at Davos that US troops had deliberately targeted journalists, Jordan's support crumbled in a matter of days.
As for Rather, the bloggers certainly played a role in calling attention to the likely phoniness of CBS's National Guard documents. But if the MSM hadn't been able to push the story forward, Mary Mapes would still be employed at the network.
On Sunday, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz had a thumbsucker on What It All Means, and today a troika does the same in the New York Times. Kurtz's is the more insightful, and not because he quotes me. The fact is that media scandals have been taking place for years, and they will continue to take place. Bloggers make a difference on the margins - speeding things up, pushing the story forward, unearthing tidbits that otherwise might have gone unnoticed.
Blogging's become an important check on mainstream news organizations - but it's not a revolution.
JORDAN ADDENDUM. Boston Herald reporter Jules Crittenden, a former embed, takes a swipe at Steve Lovelady, managing editor of CJR Daily, who, in an e-mail to Jay Rosen, refers to Jordan's tormenters as "salivating morons" who comprised a "lynch mob."
JUST CHANGE THE NAME. If Laura Bush wants to shake things up in the East Wing, that's fine with me. Come on - who cares? But imagine what we'd be hearing if Hillary Clinton had fired a chef brought in by Barbara Bush. Now read this piece by the New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller.