Skip to comments.The Blogosphere’s Smaller Stars [Buckhead and TankerKC mentioned]
Posted on 12/20/2004 12:19:30 PM PST by Jim Robinson
Earlier this year, CBS aired a now-infamous 60 Minutes episode in which Rather presented typed memoranda supposedly written over 30 years ago by President George W. Bushs Texas Air National Guard commander, the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian. The documents purported to show that Bush received preferential treatment while serving in the military. Hours after the broadcast, well-known bloggers like Little Green Footballs, Power Line, and the widely known Instapundit as well as NRO's Kerry Spot & The Corner were casting doubt on the documents authenticity. As the controversy grew, they posted frequent updates and became virtual clearinghouses of information.
The rest is well-documented history, so to speak.
The thing about history, though, is that the efforts of minor players often go unnoticed. During the scandal, high-trafficked bloggers were interviewed on radio and television and mentioned in countless news articles. Two appeared on the cover of Time magazine. But smaller, lesser-known, and lower-trafficked blogs that didnt get press coverage served a valuable function during Rathergate. By linking to well-known blogs, articles, documents, and one another, they made worthy contributions. A few even conducted their own independent, journalistic-style investigations (often scooping the professionals).
It all happened organically, without any controlling influence at all, and it happened fast, says Jeff Harrell about the growth of the blogosphere-fueled controversy. A freelance writer from Texas, Harrells blog, The Shape of Days, was frequently linked to by Instapundit as the story picked up steam.
Once the story caught on, it spread rapidly across the web, though some bloggers were skeptical at first. It just seemed the type of thing that could make the blogosphere look bad if people jumped the gun and start[ed] crying forgery without actual evidence, admits a blogger who goes by the name Cassandra and runs I Love Jet Noise.
Rusty Shackleford, a political-science professor who hosts MyPetJawa, says he followed the story very closely but urged bloggers to proceed carefully. My original post was quoted all over the blogosphere as a word of caution to those boring full speed ahead on indicting the Killian memo.
He eventually joined the blogospheres quest for the truth as he searched the National Archives to find out whether the U.S. Air Force had purchased a typewriter during the stated time frame capable of producing the memos.
Other bloggers saw the frenzy as political noise. I despise partisan bickering, insists Harrell. I thought this story was just another example I dismissed it pretty early on.
Once the CBS memos seemed likely to be forgeries, some bloggers began investigating different aspects of the story. Patterico, a prosecutor in California, fact-checked ABC News and posted the results on his site, Pattericos Pontifications. He said ABC News falsely concluded that posters on FreeRepublic.com the conservative news forum where the hoax idea germinated were the forgers of the documents.
Patterico contends that ABC Newss conclusion was based on a misreading of the time-zone stamp on the posts, which they had assumed to be Eastern time. ABCNEWS failed to note that the time stamp was Pacific time. Based on this simple mistake [the network] falsely concluded that internet (sic) posters had posted their doubts about the documents before the program had ended, he wrote. ABC News has since corrected the error on its website.
Additionally, Patterico interviewed Buckhead and TankerC, the subjects of ABCs report and the first to express doubt about the memos. I knew that these individuals would likely be the focus of some interest from the media, and that loonies would try to connect them to Karl Rove. I thought it would be interesting for them to get their real stories before the public.
Now thats journalism.
Like Patterico, Harrell used the power of the web to gather information and answer questions. [W]hile the typographic evidence of forgery was pretty good, there was one hole I wanted to fill. It seemed that the IBM Selectric Composer, an expensive typewriter from the 1970s, might have been able to produce the memos. While that possibility had been dismissed, Harrell continued to investigate. The expert he tracked down, a Composer owner, confirmed it could not have produced the documents. I wanted to rule it out conclusively, Harrell said.
While other bloggers parsed news reports and interviewed experts, Bill Dyer used his own expertise to add insight. A practicing lawyer in Texas who runs the BeldarBlog, Dyer verified and posted the professional credentials of lawyer bloggers pursuing Rathergate such as Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) and Hugh Hewitt after Jonathan Klein, former executive vice president of CBS News, referred to bloggers as a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.
The effect bloggers have had on traditional journalism as they become fact-checkers, disseminators of information, and citizen journalists is still in flux. But the paradigm has clearly shifted in determining what is news and who is qualified to cover it, and smaller bloggers are playing an important role. Tom Maguire, host of the blog Just One Minute, also frequently linked to by Instapundit, says that smaller bloggers can do research to uncover overlooked angles and connections.
Patterico believes smaller bloggers can be noticed. Although larger ones get the media coverage, smaller bloggers can still break stories. [I]f your message is unique, there is still a good chance it will get attention.
Others see the importance of blogs and public interaction, particularly during Rathergate. [B]y making the news cycle interactive, bloggers had essentially resurrected the front-porch aspect of civil life where folks used to gather to discuss the issues of the day, Cassandra says. Blogging is revitalizing democracy.
At least one journalist seems to agree. Chris Satullo, editorial-page editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, recognizes the role of bloggers but stressed that journalists are still necessary. The idea is not that journalists know what the best result is; its that democracy works best when issues get aired, real dialogue happens and ordinary people arent shut out of the deal by elites. [A]ny card-carrying civic journalist is going to celebrate the blogosphere.
Including its smaller stars.
Thought you'd like this one
< Bloggers are journalists unlike, say, Inquirer editors.
LOL, ABC is as stupid as CBS!
Thanks for the post Jim.
Thanks for what you have created Jim.
S/B as journalist-SHOULD BE-style investigations !!!!!!!!!!
The media continues to miss part of the story. Please look at the posting below, which shows that TankerKC posted suspicions RIGHT DURING THE BROADCAST!! Note the time was 8:19pm EDT, not Pacific Time. TankerKC saw the memo and knew right away it look like BS. Buckhead then did the research and made the case.
The fraud was so obvious that Freepers were on it while the broadcast was still running. CBS HAD to know within 48 Hours at the most that the memo was bogus, yet they continued to defend it. THAT is the real story!
THE MOTHER OF ALL POSTINGS:
WE NEED TO SEE THOSE MEMOS AGAIN!
They are not in the style that we used when I came in to the USAF. They looked like the style and format we started using about 12 years ago (1992). Our signature blocks were left justified, now they are rigth of center...like the ones they just showed.
Can we get a copy of those memos?
107 posted on 09/08/2004 8:19:00 PM EDT by TankerKC (R.I.P. Spc Trevor A. Win'E American Hero)
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Jim Robinson is the Patrick Henry of our time.......
Hats off to Jim Robinson, the Ur-Blogger. You got this going years ago and now the conservatives are rapidly communicating with each other and with the world. Thanks, Jim.
"The truth shall make you free."
Thanks for all you've made possible, Jim!
I think it's about time that they do a report on all these blogs being put out from pro-democracy Iraqis.
I've seen a number of good ones like democracyiniraq.blogspot.com, iraqthemodel.com, among others.
These are valuable, they contradict all the negativity we get out of the news 24/7
But that's okay. We don't mind. Goes with the territory.
I don't mean to sound harsh, but you have to understand that accusing people of ripping off others' observations is considered an attack on our integrity. My integrity is everything and I can't have people getting the wrong impression.
I don't even know who you are, or what secondary forums you represent. Don't take offense, but most of us don't know you either.
Now we are doing the same thing with the liars/spinners suffering from Rummy Phobia.
Merry Christmas Jim.