December 01, 2004

Thinking About Blogs

So, I'm watching all the archeological turnover of the network news fossils, such as Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, and I got to thinking about something.

Dan Rather, quite probably, saw his twilight years forever besmirched by a throng of pajama-clad anklebiters who just happened to notice that he relied on obviously forged documents to augment an "investigative" report. He then later went on to criticize the "blogging machine" for running rampant with leaked early exit polls, even though those polls were leaked by folks within the established media.

Then there's Tom Brokow who--although he himself wasn't chopped off at the knees by alert pajamahadeen--did at one point say bloggers amounted to "political jihad."

I have a problem with such a dismissive attitude towards blogs, and not simply because I'm a blogger. I certainly don't equate myself with the amazing bloggers who sniffed out forged memos within hours of a broadcast. Hell, the epitome of my online sleuthing only helped to expose a 30+ year old man masquerading as a bi-sexual Web diarist. Hardly Pulitzer-level investigation.

But blogs, to me, represent a growing influence that acts as a sorely needed check on the mainstream media. Prior to blogs, your best chance to be heard by Dan Rather would be to call CBS and listen to Muzak for four hours only to leave a message with an underling that was never returned. Or, you could write a letter to the editor, only to have a newspaper edit your words, at best, or not run it at all, at worst.

Now, with blogs, if you have something you want to vent, you can vent it, or if you smell bullshit, you can yell "BULLSHIT!" If you think Trent Lott said some pretty racist-sounding things, you can write about it and whip up such an online froth that the man steps down as Senate majority leader.

I can see why the likes of Rather and Brokaw can't understand the value of bloggers. To them, the idea that somebody tapping on a laptop while taking a crap could produce a thought-provoking post that can whip its way around the globe within hours and actually become a type of news is positively terrifying. From where I sit, however, it's one of the most self-empowering tools to emerge in this high technology age.

It wouldn't be bothering me so much because, after all, Brokaw and Rather are on their way out, and Jennings will no doubt be close behind. But then, you have people like Bill O'Reilly saying things like:

The reason these net people get away with all kinds of stuff is that they work for no one. They put stuff up with no restraints. This, of course, is dangerous, but it symbolizes what the Internet is becoming.

It's that nasty old free speech thing that O'Reilly just can't condone.

Or you have Brian Williams saying something like bloggers are:

on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem.

I don't know. I guess it would be nice if so-called young blood like Williams had a better understanding of just how powerful bloggers are right now, and just how powerful they're going to be in a few more years. As a single unit, a blog isn't much, but when you get a few hundred or thousand galvanized together sniffing out a bogus story, they can be more powerful than any network news outlet.

You'd think they'd start to realize that.

Posted by Ryan at December 1, 2004 04:24 PM

i think the Nov. election definitely showed that bloggers, and internet communities like MoveON, have way more power and influence on the average internet surfer than CBS news does. it scares the crap out of them i bet, and so they have to degrade it publically. sure - shitloads of disinfo out there, and i'm not innocent of posting stuff from the hip with no credible reference. and while most of the time i could care less who reads what i write, it's nice knowing that i can be read and that i have a voice that's louder and more useful than me just yelling at the television, which is what i used to do. well, i still do that, but then i blog about it later.

Posted by: leblanc at December 1, 2004 11:38 PM

For the record, though the end-products may bear a close resemblance, I have never posted from the shitter.

Posted by: seed at December 2, 2004 09:36 AM

On a sidenote, do you watch the Daily Show? Brian Williams guested the other night, and I have a newfound respect for him. He made Jon Stewart crack up repeatedly with his uber dry statements, because he's got an awesome poker face and Jon couldn't tell when he was razzing him or being serious on an issue. At the end of the show, Jon gave him huge kudos and the 2 of them cracked up bigtime.

I could care less about ever watching him on tv, it was just cool to see he is a true wiseass in real life.

Posted by: allie at December 2, 2004 09:52 AM

I didn't catch Williams on the Daily Show, Allie, but I'm sure it will be updated on the Comedy Central Web site shortly, and I'll try to watch it then. I do enjoy the Daily Show, even though I think it's drifted away from being the non-partisan show that originally drew me in.

Posted by: Ryan at December 2, 2004 09:59 AM

I care not in the least about the talking heads reading the news (even less so after watching Anchorman, which is damned funny in a very, very stupid kind of way).

Dan Rather hasn't been a journo since computers went into the home. He's so far out of touch with reality that he makes Monty Burns look like a pop tart.

I've never posted to my blog while in the can either although I have read one or two blogs while in there, it just seemed appropriate.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at December 2, 2004 05:40 PM

I'm with you on this one all the way.

*standing, clapping*

Posted by: Roberta S at December 3, 2004 01:47 AM

Plain Layne was a man? Holy f#cking sh#t.

Posted by: Morellopoli at December 5, 2004 11:59 AM
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