April 17, 2004


UPDATE: Justin Katz has some thoughts. So does N.Z. Bear.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Lindgren emails:

I thought that the most interesting part of the New York Times story on Wonkette was a not-too-veiled attack on bloggers for inaccuracy, compared to their supposedly more accurate print counterparts–particularly on the Kerry-intern story. A former gossip columnist for WAPO is quoted as saying “We’re really writing fairly rigorously sourced items.”

I find this unintentionally humorous: for weeks almost every major news organization ran unsubstantiated rumors that Bush had been AWOL from the National Guard. Many bloggers were much more careful on the Bush story than the Washington Post and other big media, saying to wait for evidence. If Bush had actually showed up for service, bloggers pointed out, his pay records should prove it.

When Bush’s pay records were released and the AWOL rumor turned out to be just as phony as the Kerry-intern story, there were few (if any) mea culpas from big media for running weeks of phony anti-Bush rumors. I’d say that on balance most bloggers did somewhat worse than the mainstream press on the Kerry intern story, and much better than the mainstream press on the Bush AWOL story. More to the blogosphere’s credit, their coverage was far more balanced than big media’s; many bloggers (such as Instapundit) were cautious about both stories. If the mainstream press is determined to print unsubstantiated rumors, it would be better to do it for both parties and collectively to show the same distribution of views from credulity to skepticism that the blogosphere showed about both stories.

Once again, slight advantage blogosphere.

I also wonder whether the rumor is true that the same Democratic operative was the source for both the phony Kerry intern story and the phony Bush AWOL story. I don’t expect the mainstream press ever to tell us who duped them and why they bought one lie but not the other.

Interesting observations.

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