Sunday, September 19, 2004

Unbunch Those Panties

Uh-oh seems like some mainstreamer is a little worried. What else explains this tersely worded missive seeking to roll clouds over the recent minor blog victories. We aren't coming after your jobs. We just want you to do them better.

First, it's worth remembering how many other news stories — basically, er, all of them — have not been broken by the blogosphere. The obvious analogue to the suspicious memos about Bush's National Guard service was last month's spurious attacks on Kerry's military service in Vietnam. Though decried by leftie bloggers, the charges were not adequately debunked until newspapers like the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune reaped the reward from Freedom of Information Act searches of decades-old military records and published eyewitness testimonials. Old-fashioned reporting won that round. . . .

In the days that followed, newspapers and television programs moved the story along by cross-checking the memos against contemporaneous National Guard records, interviewing witnesses and family members, and again questioning the network's experts. The blogs picked up the story, but they couldn't carry it to the finish line alone. They were complemented by traditional media but never came close to supplanting it.

The bloggers who first cast doubt on the CBS memos deserve congratulations, gratitude and, of course, their time in the sun. This has been another moment of triumph for this dynamic and emerging field, and it will surely not be the last. But it has been a moment, not a revolution.
I think bloggers everywhere thank you for your generous head pat. And as a left leaning blogger - thanks especially for your calling out our failure to fix Kerry's Swift Boat woes. It's much easier to debunk objective evidence (document is either real or forged) than it is to debunk subjective opinion (Kerry was brave, no he wasn't). It seems the substance of the memos matters little - though it has been called accurate, at least on CBS - for whatever that's worth now. [Update: What you knew was coming seems to be here: CBS News Concludes It Was Misled on National Guard Memos, Network Officials Say, via the journo refereced below.]

Some bloggers do report. Especially the ones who are, you know, like journalists. The bottom line is that you can't say we all intend to report. Some do, some don't. Some comment, some bitch, some whine, many do a bit of everything. But as a life in politics has taught me - a hit piece means you're a threat. So - good job, kids.

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