The meltdown at CBS over it’s “60 Minutes II” story on George Bush’s service in the Air National Guard has the main stream media rushing to congratulate itself. The problem is outside the of 2 news organizations (ABC and the Washington Post) that got on the story quickly, and another handful of strong late entries (such as the L.A. Times, the New York Post, the New York Times, and the Dallas Morning News), the rest of the mainstream media didn’t do jack.
In Love thy newspaper columnist Debra J. Saunders tells us that because the Washington Post and the Dallas Morning News were on the case (after the blogosphere) all newspapers should get credit for taking down Dan Rather. She also manages to disparage blogs in just about every way possible.
Sorry, but all I did was write a column that piggybacked off the hard work of reporters at the Washington Post and the Dallas Morning News, and after watching Fox News and CNN dissect the story. While bloggers uncovered technical holes in the “60 Minutes” story, the reason Rather fell so quickly was that mainstream media nailed this story.
You won’t find any argument from me that a select few journalists showed up for this story once blogs showed them the way, but that damn sure doesn’t mean that the San Francisco Chronicle deserves any credit for the story as a member of the mainstream media. Look at the pitiful coverage of the story from her own paper:
From Wednesday Sept. 8th to Thursday Sept. 16th, a period that encompasses the airing of the original story and the defense segment the following week, the San Francisco Chronicle managed to produce a grand total of
ZERO ONE original story on the Rathergate affair. The other articles are wire stories from the Washington Post and New York Times.
Howard Witt in the Chicago Tribune tries to paint conservative blogs as not worthy of respect because you don’t know the backgrounds of the authors. Of course he let’s other people (mostly editors and scholars) make those accusations. Uh, does anyone know the background of Howard Witt? All we know is that he managed to get a job at the Tribune. He could be an escaped mental patient for all you know – but if his reporting is solid, does it really matter? It’s not like his paper was adding to the collective coverage:
From Wednesday Sept. 8th to Thursday Sep 16th, the Chicago Tribune managed to produce a grand total of ZERO original stories on the Rathergate affair. If you examine the search results you’ll see 4 stories run from other sources.
Lastly, today in Newsday Danny Schecter (who is not a Newsday employee) manages to adjust his tinfoil hat and gather a bunch of non-related factoids and paint a deep dark conspiracy:
The Republican National Committee operates its own 24/7 anti-news network to monitor coverage and orchestrate a rapid response. Salon reports that the story casting doubt on the documents was first pushed into the news stream by Creative Response Concepts, a Republican public relations firm. Then, selected bloggers went to work led by an Atlanta lawyer who helped get President Bill Clinton disbarred and was the first who called the memos fakes. His charges spread like a prairie fire through the rabid conservative grapevine and amen corner. The goal: Focus the media on Rather, not Bush.
For the record – both campaigns have media monitoring teams; the blogs covering this story are not beholden to either campaign; the public relations firm has since apologized for giving the impression that they had any role in the coverage; and the goal wasn’t Rather or Bush – it was THE TRUTH. Obviously forged documents that magically appear weeks before an election that attempt to take rumor and make it the truth have a tendency to evoke the detective spirit in bloggers, regardless of their politics. Those bloggers inclined to believe CBS presented much better evidence of the plausibility of the memos than CBS ever did. Unfortunately for the liberal bloggers CBS’s arrogance and dishonesty made them look like fools for arguing CBS’s side of the story. At least the liberal and conservative bloggers were trying to move the story forward, unlike Newsday which didn’t exactly set the world on fire with it’s coverage:
From Wednesday Sept. 8th to Thursday Sept. 16th, Newsday managed to produce a grand total of 5 original stories on the on the Rathergate affair, better than the previous two examples; but it’s worth noting that 4 of those 5 reports are datelined Sept. 15th or Sept. 16th. If you examine the search results you’ll see 13 stories run from other sources.
From Wednesday Sept. 8th to Thursday Sept. 16th Wizbang (alone) managed to produce 20+ stories on the Rathergate affair. I could name
10 20 other blogs that would have similar stats.