Friday, November 12, 2004

MSM v. 'Sphere, Round 87

From the NYT, an article on vote fraud theories, blogs, and the 2004 bunk/debunk cycle.

Much of the article revolves around specific allegations of vote fraud in Florida, "discovered" by a blogger in Utah (whose stats went through the roof thanks to a few choice inbounds). I'm pretty sure you could find at least a little funny business in every state, regardless of voting system. At the very least, any 15 year old with time and a computer can hack into and mess around with anything - and that's without a compelling reason, that's just for kicks.

Several themes run throughout the article:

1) Humans love patterns and will seek them even where they don't exist.

More bad stuff probably went on in 2000 than in 2004. In 2000, however, the margin was SO close that fraud really could've changed the election. And because the election was so close last time, it should've been that close this time. Because it should've been that close this time, finding irregularities in voting is integral in re-fighting the 2000 outcome. Of course, this time around, with several million votes seperating my guy from the winner, the same arguments just don't carry the same conspiracy-theory-weight. And though I believe absolutely that every vote should be counted, and counted fairly, I think that focusing on one bad machine in Ohio or one questionable county in Florida (or some rumpled coat in a photo) takes attention off the real conspiracies: Bush's reasons for war, his entire foreign policy, you know, that kinda stuff.

2.) (With apologies to Bill Cosby) The MSM brought bloggers into this world, and they can take them right out again.


"It becomes a snowball of hearsay," said Matthew Damschroder, the director of elections in Columbus, Ohio, where an electronic voting machine malfunctioned in
one precinct and allotted some 4,000 votes to President Bush, kicking off its own flurry of Web speculation. That particular problem was unusual and remains unexplained, but it was caught and corrected, Mr. Damschroder said.

"Some from the traditional media have called for an explanation," he said, "but no one from these blogs has called and said, 'We want to know what really happened.' "

Whether that is the role of bloggers, Web posters and online pundits, however, is a matter of debate.
Ah, yes, the role of the bloggers. We've been punting that around since when? About the Democratic convention when bloggers were the first 2 news cycles? (Which should've been cause for concern for Democrats to begin with, but I digress). Of course, while I take issue with the Times implicit smack-blog rhetoric, I also take issue with the so-what-if-we're-wrong bloggers:
John Byrne, editor of an alternative news site,, says it is too easy to condemn blogs and freelance Web sites for being inaccurate. The more important point, he said, is that they offer an alternative to a mainstream news media that has become too timid. "Of course you can say blogs are wrong," he said. "Blogs are wrong all the time."

That's nothing of which to be proud, is it? Both MSM and blogs are wrong sometimes, but that it happens doesn't make it okay. And at the end of the day:
"I'd give my right arm for Internet rumors of a stolen election to be true," said David Wade, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign, "but blogging it doesn't make it so. We can change the future; we can't rewrite the past."

I'd agree with that - although, actually, I think I'd rather they not be true because I still, foolishly, like to think no one really would mess with another person's vote.

The biggest challenge facing Democrats - okay, one of the big challenges - is to get them to waging the 2000 campaign in perpetuity. The challenges facing bloggers are a) to stop helping Dems live in 2000 and b) to break the MSM and world at large from its annoying habit of lumping all bloggers in the same category. More on that later . . . .

For now, I'm off to Boston. Where I can safely, and proudly, wear all my Kerry chumwear.

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