Monday, February 14, 2005

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.


Anonymous said...

To make sure I've got this right, MSM=MainStream Media?
I'm trying to be hip, but at age 48 it's getting harder.

Anonymous said...

To make sure I've got this right, MSM=MainStream Media?
I'm trying to be hip, but at age 48 it's getting harder.

Anonymous said...

Time to Discard the Bogus Yes/No FrameworkDan: you're applying a limited yes/no framework that offers little insight into the Blogger phenom.

"Are Blogs a revolution, yes or no?" One can lazily and simple-mindedly answer "no," but this misses the point, and indeed, typifies the problem with 2-D self-perpetuating MSM myopia.

Instead, you ought to praise the instances where bloggers truly provide correctives to MSM incompetence, duplicity and bias.

The current scandal of political operative/male prostitute Jeff Guckert in the White House press pool is a perfect example. He was uncovered entirely by Bloggers. MSM reporters were NEVER going to touch this scandal --even reporters who knew Guckert was fishy and stood next to him in press briefings for over a year.

This is where Bloggers are doing the work the media WILL NEVER DO any more than the Catholic Church will turn its own pedophile clergy in to the police (you, Dan, as a mainstream, thoughtful journo have failed to even acknowledge the Guckert scandal).

Today, we find yet another example of Bloggers doing what the MSM can't/doesn't/won't do itself.

At the same time, one must recognize that the added speed provided by bloggers is a revolutionary force much the same way that high-speed internet access helps to revolutionize the web.

And BTW, you are correct that Rather wasn't forced out by Bloggers; he was forced out by a combination of right-wing media sources of which Bloggers were just one small part --most prominently talk radio and cable TV-- plus the White House.

~Anthony G.