That Blog Won’t Hunt

My counterparts on the Internet think they’re so clever and so cutting-edge— and they are. But that doesn’t mean they can’t learn a thing or two from the mainstream media.

Over the years, Dan Rather, the subject of Gary Cartwright’s cover story ( Dan Rather Retorting), has withstood the criticism of presidents, members of Congress, and fellow journalists. But when CBS aired his 60 Minutes Wednesday report on young George W. Bush’s career in the Texas Air National Guard last September, Rather found himself assailed, and ultimately brought down, by an entirely different group of critics—the bloggers, anonymous commentators on current events with pseudonyms like “Hindrocket” and few, if any, media credentials, except access to the world’s biggest printing press: the Internet. Even while the 60 Minutes report was still being aired, bloggers were already attacking the authenticity of the documents on which it was based. As everybody knows, the bloggers were right and CBS was wrong.

What everybody may not know—and, I confess, what I myself was slow to recognize—is that bloggers think of themselves as far more than just a collection of individual commentators. They see themselves as the vanguard of a media revolution in which more and more of the public will get information not from professional media organizations like the New York Times, CBS, and, yes, TEXAS MONTHLY but instead from ordinary citizens who want their voices and their opinions to be heard but don’t have a prayer of breaking into the MSM, as the bloggers refer to the mainstream media. Blogs are the talk radio of cyberspace: entertaining, provocative, and usually identified with one end or the other of the political spectrum. The main difference between themselves and the mainstream media, the bloggers say, is that they own up to their biases, while the MSM masquerade as objective. Their belief that they own the future is Maoist in its fervor. Here is Hindrocket on powerlineblog.com: “So far, the blogosphere has

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