Sunday, October 16, 2005


This posts reads how I feel, so I wanted to "borrow" it for my Sunday morning post.



The mainstream media has finally acknowledged what has been obvious for quite some time; that the internet web logs, or "blogs", are here to stay. Far from being a passing fad, blogs like the present one existed before the word "blog" was coined to describe them. After nearly 12 years, and a readership that exceeds that of most city newspapers, the suggestion that blogs like this one are a passing fancy is at best wishful thinking.
The mainstream media has long attempted to dismiss blogs as somehow "unprofessional", usually because blogs are not vast centers of commerce. Occasionally there will be a gratuitous hit piece, attempting to portray the internet as a haven for child molesters second only to the clergy. Always there is the implication that blogs should not be taken seriously because the bloggers don't play the game by the same rules as the mainstream media.

With regard to that last one, it is true that the blogs don't play by the same rules as the mainstream media. We have neither governments, owners, nor advertisers imposing rules on us. Media entities with huge overheads can be bought. Reporters will trade their souls for a ride on Air Force One. Private Blogs (as opposed to blogs set up by public relations firms pretending to be private blogs) running on spare change are immune to that sort of thing.

Recently, the media proclaimed "let the battle begin" relative to mainstream media versus the blogs. As has become the norm, the mainstream media is behind the curve. The battle between the mainstream media and the blogs started a long time ago.

The mainstream media's recent focus has been on the blogs' role in the Jeff Gannon story. This is because the mainstream media does NOT want the focus going anywhere else, say, the fact that the mainstream media aided the Presidential lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, while the private blogs correctly exposed those lies as soon as they were uttered. In the battle for credibility between the mainstream media and the blogs, the blogs won that round, hands down. History may judge that the watershed moment, when the public trust in the mainstream media dipped below the level of trust of the blogs.

Another "debate" between the mainstream media and the blogs that the mainstream media hopes you will forget relates to the Anthrax Letters sent to various people immediately after 9-11. The mainstream media put the focus on Stephen Hatfill, a "person of interest", and kept that focus there despite a complete lack of any evidence connecting him to the crime. Meanwhile, a small town newspaper, the Hartford Courant, blew the lid off of the cover-up by revealing the name of a man actually caught on the security system entering the area where the particular strain of Anthrax used in the letters was kept, without proper authorization, and AFTER being fired from his job at the lab for a racially motivated attack on an Egyptian co-worker. The mainstream media ignored the story, but it was the blogs that made the name of Dr. Philip Zack, the man caught entering the Anthrax storage area, a household word. And it was the blogs, not the mainstream media, that asked why the FBI remained so totally focused on Hatfill, for whom no evidence existed, while going out of their way not to talk to Zack.

Then there is 9-11 itself. The mainstream media reported the official story that a "raging inferno" caused the collapse of the twin towers. That there had never been a case of a steel framed building collapsing from fire was never mentioned by the mainstream media, again it was up to the blogs to make that fact known. Likewise, when photos surfaced showing people looking out the holes of the towers and waving at the ground, proving that there could not have been any such raging inferno, the mainstream media again ignored the story, while the blogs got the word out.

Admittedly, Fox News did report one important story about 9-11, that of the arrested Israeli spies, but quickly pulled the story because of public pressure from AIPAC. I imagine their was egg on a few faces when AIPAC was named in the latest Israeli spy scandal, but if the mainstream media was pressured into reporting the Pentagon spies by the blogs, they still failed to note what was obvious to all, that the Pentagon office infiltrated by the spy operation was the very same office from which all those now discredited claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction flowed. The mainstream media can't (or won't) make the obvious connection between Israeli spies and lies about Iraq. Only the blogs have had the courage.

The mainstream media today beats its brest and wonders what it can do to regain its former credibility. Sadly, there is a great deal of history to overcome. Jeff Gannon is only the most recent fraud to surface. There was the New York Times' Jayson Blair, caught stealing stories or fabricating them outright. ABC has a rather nasty reputation for fakery. 20/20 broadcast a story claiming that lab tests proved that food bought at organic stores contained the same amounts of pesticides as food from major supermarket chains. A follow up investigation revealed that ABC had never even sent the samples to a lab for tests of any kind. John Stossel was forced to apologize on-air. ABC's Primetime Live was caught faking footage that showed bad meat being sold by the Food Lion Supermarket chain. An apology wasn't enough in that case, ABC was sued and lost, paying Food Lion $5.5 million in damages. ABC Producer Rick Kaplan was "punished" with a better job at CNN. Nor is ABC alone in their abuse of the public trust. NBC Dateline defamed a trucking company in a report which manufactured claims of unsafe driving. NBC had to pay a half million in damages. Stephen Glass - A reporter at the New Republic, Stephen wrote several award winning articles which reinforced the liberal's preconceived notions about conservatives and the nation at large. One example involved a story of a conservative conference that degenerated into drug use and group sex. The story passed editorial review and ran without basic fact checking. The story turned out to be a fabrication, along with almost 1/3 of the total work product of Glass's career at New Republic. Patricia Smith resigns her job at the Boston Globe after having to admit she fabricated characters for one of her stories. Later investigation shows that 52 of her articles for the newspaper cannot be verified as factual. Smith had been a finalist for a Pulitzer prize at the time of her disgrace. Mike Barnicle refused to resign his job at the Boston Globe after having been caught plagiarizing, and was fired. It was not the first time he had been investigated for fraud in his articles. Barnicle was suspended without pay for two months, which prompted an accusation of racial bias from the NAACP due to the difference in treatment between the white Barnicle and the black Pat Smith. Both CNN and Tom Brokaw settled out-of-court with Richard Jewell. The Wall Street Journal loses a record libel suit filed by a Texas company, paying $200-million in damages. And on and on and on and on and on...

The mainstream media's attitude is perhaps best typified by the story of Fox News and the Monsanto Growth Hormone. A team of reporters, Steve Wilson & Jane Akre, researched the effects of synthetic bovine growth hormone on cattle and discovered that a great deal of evidence exists that people who consume the meat or dairy products from treated cattle can suffer adverse health effects. Monsanto got wind of the story and together with dairy associations pressured Fox News to shut the story down. Fox News ordered the reporters to change the story, the reporters refused and Fox fired them. The reporters sued and LOST on appeal when the court ruled that since there is no law requiring the media to tell the truth about anything, the mainstream media is within their legal rights to fire reporters who refuse to lie! As a side note, that legal precedent is troubling when one realizes that our national elections are counted by a privately owned company, owned jointly by the TV networks (who are not bound by law to tell the truth) and not subject to either citizen or governmental oversight.

So, when it comes to regaining their credibility, the mainstream media has a huge mountain to climb. It should come as no surprise that the mainstream media, rather than start telling the truth, has decided that it is easier to try to discredit the bloggers. And so we get phony blogs operated by public relations firms and various intelligence agencies that put out total nonsense, such as pods on the 9-11 planes, so that the mainstream media can point to it on cue and say "See, we told you they were loons", as Popular Mechanics is doing in their March issue.

But in the end, such dirty tricks only work if the public doesn't know the tricks are there, and because of the blogs, the tired old cold-war-relic propaganda tricks are now widely known and easily spotted by the public at large. The numbers make it clear. Total viewership of the network news is in decline, while readership of the blogs is exploding. The public has become skeptical and now trusts only themselves to sort out what is true and what is false. That is a very healthy thing.

The battle between the mainstream media and the blogs isn't starting. It's already over. The blogs won.


Blogger SkyeBlue2U said...

That was a very interesting article.

11:38 AM  

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