Dan Rather, Professional Journalist, and CBS News, Professional News Network, want us to keep believing that they are the ordained purveyors of truth. They are the mature and responsible mavens of media ethics. They are the information gatekeepers with unparalleled judgment, dedicated to the high principles of The Craft of Journalism, unwavering in their crusade for the public interest.
As the saying goes in the blogosphere: Bwah-hah-hah.
With a click of the mouse and easy-to-use Web log software, Internet-savvy citizens across America and around the world are relentlessly unmasking the frauds of snob journalism as never before. The wall between the self-anointed press protectorate and the unwashed masses has crumbled.
Rather and The Suits face crushing evidence that CBS relied on bogus military documents in a recent "60 Minutes II" hit piece challenging President Bush's National Guard service. Questions about the documents' authenticity were first raised last week on the indispensible conservative Internet forum, FreeRepublic.com, then amplified and supplemented by the intrepid independent bloggers of Powerline, Little Green Footballs, INDC Journal and Allahpundit.
Rather and his geriatric empire are combating these powerfully persuasive blogs with anemic smears and sneers. And they are losing so very, very badly that they can't keep on top of their own spin.
Rather recklessly suggests that the bloggers who broke the story are disciplined "partisan political operatives," presumably affiliated with the Bush campaign and/or Republican National Convention. Former CBS news executive Jonathan Klein, on the other hand, suggests that the bloggers are loose cannons and amateur yahoos. The blogger, Klein told Fox News, is a "guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing" without acceptable journalistic credentials or a genuine commitment to "checks and balances."
It's no surprise, of course, that the conspiratorial, central-planning mindset of the mainstream media kingpins conjures up a top-down plot where there is none and where none could ever be orchestrated even if the Bush White House wanted one. Bloggers take orders from no one. But with that irresistible platter of publishing freedom comes a tall glass of responsibility. For serious blogging pundits and news-gatherers and discussion board operators, cyber-cred is everything. Mainstream media anthropologists often attach the adjective "free-wheeling" to the blogger culture -- ignoring the flip side of the brutally quick-fixing and 24/7 fact-checking nature of the medium.
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