[I posted this at Command Post today and figured, what the hell, I'll just go ahead and blog away here]
As the "bloggers in pajamas" meme makes the rounds, I am reminded of a children's show my daughter used to watch, Bananas in Pajamas. It's just as ridiculous, no? Anyhow, I propose that we make the Banana to the left here our unofficial mascot. Theme song included.
In the end, it will matter not if bloggers were actually wearing their pajamas
when they began their education-by-fire of kerns and fonts and the ancient world of typewriters
. The fact will remain that they beat some men and women wearing shirts and ties to the punch. No...they did more than beat them to the punch; the shirted reporters barely knew that the fight had begun.
If Jonathan Klein truly believed his notion that "[b]loggers have no checks and balances . . . [it's] a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas," when he made that statement, his belief system must be taking quite a hit at the moment. Besides the fact that not all bloggers are guys, I'd have to say that a major portion of us have real jobs that keep us from shuffling around our living room in our feetie jammies
As for checks and balances, we have each other. As Rev. Donald Sensing said:
bq. Bloggers are fact checked incessantly by other bloggers and most blogs have a comment feature where a lot of fact checking goes on. And it's done in realtime, unlike any MSM. Reporters for MSM generally have one editor. I have, today alone, 17,000-plus, every one of which is empowered to tell me I screwed something up. In realtime. On my site. Try that with 60 Minutes.
Touche, Mr. Klein.
While the memos in question
in this MemoGate(r) or RatherGate(r) or The Tale of the Tricky Typography (or whatever you would like to call it) have not yet been proven beyond doubt to be forged, the real story here is no longer about Bush's AWOL service or superscript lettering. It is about the integrity and the accountability of the media, in particular that of CBS and, to a lesser extent, The Boston Globe.
It's no secret that Dan Rather has an agenda. The website Rather Biased
has been chronicling, well, Rather's Bias, since 2000. The fact that Mr. Rather is seen by millions of people across this nation on a major broadcast network means that his agenda has a wide audience. Now take into account that most people in this country still are naive enough to trust mainstream media (MSM) to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and you end up with one person wielding a lot of influence just two months before a presidential election.
When word first started traveling
that the memos Rather used on his 60 Minute piece on the Bush AWOL story might be forgeries, CBS should have immediately issued a statement addressing the topic, saying that while they stand by their sources they would also be looking into the matter in order to clear up any confusion about the documents. That way, they would let the public know that they were aware of the issue and they were taking this slight on their reputation seriously, while at the same time letting the same public know that they still believe their original source.
But, no. CBS instead went into defense mode, with Rather spewing out bitter nonsense about the internet rumor mill and partisan hacks
bq. “Today on the Internet and elsewhere, some people, including many who are partisan political operatives, concentrated, not on the key questions of the overall story, but on the documents that were part of the support of the overall story.”
As I said before: the problem is, the key questions of the overall story are moot if the evidence is false.
Things shifted quickly after that. Bloggers dug deeper
and some news outlets noticed. Others picked up on the story and, neglecting to mention how the key components of MemoGate began, did their own research and called their own specialists. The Boston Globe
, in fact, called upon the same forensic document expert as Bill at INDC. And then they went on to misrepresent his words to the point that the expert, Dr. Bouffard, was livid
. Not to mention the fact that the Globe
, which continues to perpetuate false statements
, got Dr. Bouffard's name wrong
in their article.
CBS then went on to use the Globe
story - now known by many to be disingenuous - to prop up their belief that the memos are real. One hand washes the other, one presumes.
It may seem odd that just 50 days before the election the media is honing in on arguments about typeface but, if you look under the surface, it's not really the kerning that is the greater issue.
Perhaps the reason the LA Times
and the New York Times
, two papers that could be considered liberal, have printed articles or opinion pieces that seem to favor the blogger side of the story is because, if they don't take that stance, they run the risk of being lumped together with Rather and CBS, like the Boston Globe.
At this moment in time, that's not a good place to be.
In fact, CBS and Rather are not even going to talk about
the memos anymore:
bq. Dan Rather was quoted in the New Zealand Herald as saying that there was no use debating the authenticity of his documents which he claims are proof that George W. Bush committed any number of unethical acts while in the National Guard.
"Until someone shows me definitive proof that they are not [authentic], I don't see any reason to carry on a conversation with the professional rumour mill."
What CBS and Rather should have done in this instance was to face the charges head on, rather than trying deflect the issue. This is no longer about AWOL charges and they have to recognize that. This is not some "silly" issue
as some professional pundits put it. Anyone connected with MSM who makes a statement like that is clearly in denial that the integrity of MSM as a whole is at stake here. Or, perhaps, they aren't in denial, but fully aware, and their only defense is to go on the offense.
What's at stake here is not the election. I honestly don't think the election will be decided over Bush's National Guard discrepancies or Kerry's Holiday in Cambodia. The American people know there is too much at stake to base their vote on thirty year old matters. So why does a news outlet like CBS deem such an issue (in CBS's case, just the Bush issue) so important as to devote their time and effort to airing it, yet not devote the time and effort towards backing up their evidence? Is someone - or several someones - letting their agenda show? It's one thing for a news outlet to slant one way or the other in its daily reporting. It's another when they use their power and influence to sway a presidential race, which I believe Rather has been doing. He has abused the trust that so many Americans have for him. Regardless of whether the memos prove to be true or false, when all the smoke has been cleared, when all the typography experts and kerning specialists go back to their desks, when all the bloggers put on their pajamas and sit back with a beer in their living rooms, one glaring fact will remain: the media cannot be trusted. Specifically, Dan Rather cannot be trusted.
How can you trust a media outlet that aired a negative piece like they did without presenting the other side of the story, which they clearly had
? They interviewed people close to the situation who regarded the memos as fakes, yet they did not bother to include those interviews in the 60 Minute segment. Even when faced with more evidence
that the authenticity of the memos should be doubted, CBS continued to give the cold shoulder to truth.
Had Rather stood up and feigned shock that the memos might be false, and then hired another expert or at least addressed the possibility that he and CBS might have been duped
, we would not be sitting here talking about typesetting. But Rather has been outed, so to speak, as a braying, defensive, partisan hack who has no more integrity than Jayson Blair. Perhaps he should be shaking his fist at his source
- or himself - instead of bloggers.