Sunday, August 19, 2007

Scapegoating Blogs

Journalist Nicole Brodeur, who cheered in the Seattle Times news room after it was announced that Karl Rove had resigned, had this to say about the Blogosphere on Friday:

The hallowed halls of journalism that I was privileged to enter more than 20 years ago are looking more and more like the New York subway. The walls covered in bloggers' scrawl, the platform crowded with any yahoo with a camera and an open mike. All are headed to your computer screen or television for the 15 seconds you'll give them before moving on to the next hot spot.

Courtesy blogs

Why are so many journalists in the mainstream media deathly afraid - I mean, critical - of Blogs?

Does it date back to JamilGate? A case in which the Blogosphere, Flopping Aces specifically, debunked a series of false reports by an alleged "source" of the Associated Press with no corroborating witnesses? The nail in the coffin was the "burning six" story, which never happened.

Perhaps journalists are miffed about more recent blunders by their own, such as failing to adequately fact check your story, and thus getting duped. This is what happened to the New York Times in its Abu Ghraib "Hooded Man" prisoner story. They were forced to print a retraction. However, the Blogosphere had little to do with that fisking, the online magazine Salon challenged the paper. Still, I suppose it ruffled some feathers, it was a debunking by an web-based site, after all.

Earlier this month, columnist Joe Klein ripped Blogs, specifically the DailyKos:

“There’s an awful lot of anger, vitriol and disdain that spews out of some of these blogs,” responded Klein. “And you don’t want to have Kos or one of those other guys ripping you apart everyday.”

However, this harsh criticism came at the hand of a man who was crucified by his fellow liberals throughout the world wide web for telling even mildly positive stories about progress in Iraq.

This past July, journalists at the Associated Press had real reason to be angry with the Blogosphere. When the AP ran "a poorly-sourced and ultimately false story of a sectarian mass beheading," one Blogger in particular, Confederate Yankee, contacted the AP, specifically, Director of Media Relations Paul Colford. CY directly challenged Colford and the AP, citing previous gross misjudgements, such as the Jamil Hussein incident. The press cannot be very fond of getting laid into, but they should take responsibility for their errors, rather than backpedal and make excuses.

But that's not all. Flopping Aces has also been on top of the Haditha Hoax, in which a number of U.S. Marines have been charged (and many since exonerated) for alleged gruesome crimes. The press had all but declared them guilty before proven innocent in a court of law.

More recently, Blogs such as Gateway Pundit have reported on a series of fauxtography, perpetrated by the AFP either purposely, or through its willful ignorance.

And perhaps the granddaddy of them all - the TNR/Beauchamp scandal - has pitted the indefensible editors at The New Republic (and some liberal defenders) against The Weekly Standard, the US Army, and much of the conservative Blogosphere. This story exploded just weeks ago when an Army private stationed in Iraq alleged numerous incidents by our troops bordering on war crimes, sadism, and even plain lack of decency. The Blogosphere was all over it (Michelle Malkin, Hot Air, Hugh Hewitt, etc.), fisking Beauchamp's own Blog, looking at his timeline of events, and ultimately - finding the truth. Beauchamp admitted to his lies (at least some of them), and signed a statement or a "confession" of sorts. The New Republic, however, has remained silent, hardly confirming or denying the allegations.

Another examples of media debunking by the Blogosphere include the Rathergate affair, by which the Blogosphere largely contributed to a serial debunking of the phony Air National Guard records meant to attack president Bush. Plenty more bust media myths can be found, at Media Myth Busters.

The infantile response from many supposed "professional" journalists is puzzling. One would expect a child to react defensively, with annoyance and anger. But denial, obfuscation and vitriol from an institution which is supposed to be a cornerstone of our democracy? The fourth estate? When things do not go their way, when their stories go sour and don't pan out, it's time to find the scapegoat. Shouldn't we expect more from grown adults? With Masters degrees, awards, and accreditation, no less.

It's sad, really.

The best roundup of the Blogosphere I've read yet has come from The Belmont Club: The Blogosphere at War. I encourage you to read it, you will learn something.

Update: A Blogger at DailyKos catches another journalist smearing Blogs.

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