Bloggers, On Your Mark

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Fred_Vobbe
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Bloggers, On Your Mark

Post by Fred_Vobbe » 07-20-2005 06:31 AM

Bloggers, On Your Mark
PETER JOHNSON
USA TODAY

Right-wing Internet bloggers dogged Dan Rather in "Memogate" so effectively that it might have cost him his anchor chair at CBS News.

Left-wing bloggers discredited Ed Klein's book, The Truth About Hillary, so fiercely that even Clinton haters called the book a hatchet job.

There are plenty of other examples of how bloggers on both sides of the political aisle, when aroused, have sunk their teeth into an issue or person in the news.

Up next?

No matter whom President Bush nominates to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court or whether Bush must replace her and ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who says he has no plans to step down, nominees are going to be fair game for bloggers.

This is a first; the Internet was in its infancy and bloggers weren't around the last time there was an opening on the high court. That was in 1994, when Stephen Breyer was nominated by President Clinton and later confirmed to the court.

Gone are the days when it would usually take disparaging information from an insider to derail a judge's nomination.

"It used to be catch as catch can," says Fordham University communications professor Paul Levinson. "But now with the Internet, we're in an environment where all the world's knowledge is available and can be brought to bear on an appointment. It democratizes the appointment process and brings the maximum number of human minds into the process."

Conservative bloggers predict that their liberal brethren will launch an all-out assault if the nominee leans to the right.

"The working assumption is that they can slime him if nothing else," says Kevin Aylward of Wizbang, one of the bloggers who led the charge against Rather and his story questioning Bush's military service.

Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine says bloggers, armed with the vast information capabilities of the Web, will do what reporters in traditional media have always done: dig up a nominee's controversial opinions. "There are only so many reporters in the world. There are countless bloggers."

Jarvis notes that liberal bloggers such as Arianna Huffington and outlets such as Daily Kos are helping to set the spin by saying they'll "hold their noses and say they'd take (presidential counselor) Alberto Gonzales over other likely choices, in part because Gonzales would irritate the right-wingers who irritate them."

Just a few years ago, partisan bloggers "were Internet-based virtual nomads lacking standing or credibility until the Republicans and Democrats gave them standing and legitimacy with accreditation at their national conventions, so they reap what they sowed," says Tom McPhail, a communications professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

He says that "given bloggers' track record of being negative, this gives a clear structural advantage to court nominees that have already survived federal hearings or media scrutiny, like current or former Cabinet members or senators."

"No fact checkers, no editors, no professional rules of the road will make the nominee a high-profile blogger catch - unless they were a hermit for their careers, which is highly unlikely or they would not even make the short list."

Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism says that it will be up to "traditional media with the largest resources to knock down bad stuff that the bloggers put out" about whomever Bush nominates.

"The media world is almost unrecognizable from what it was 11 years ago. All the rules of the road are different. We were driving 1950s Chevys compared to what governs the road now."
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Linnea
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Post by Linnea » 07-20-2005 01:26 PM

Good article, Fred. With the internet bloggers as the break away sprinters (er, pardon le reference ;) ) one thing we will see more of is censorship on the 'net by corporations (in service to their political support groups) and MSM. Comcast has already tipped its hand in a denial of service of emails to a blogger site in recent days.

Viligance - and keep posting and blogging.

Cherry Kelly
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Post by Cherry Kelly » 07-20-2005 02:16 PM

I have my "fun site" and a forum (for combat robot people), and biz site -- but oh my another one too - sure why not..

Blogging can be interesting reading... :)

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