December 20, 2004
CBS blasts blogs - againBy Noel Sheppard
Our friends at CBS News are at it again —— suggesting that blogs, bloggers, and everything related to non—mainstream media reporting are the root cause of the troubles in the industry. Not the unconscionably poor job that the CBS News research division has been doing in vetting stories for accuracy, nor the obvious left—leaning bias of most of its broadcasters...but blogs.
Haven't these people heard the warnings from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding the tossing of inanimate missiles from the confines of one's transparent residential structure? I guess not.
Well, in case you missed our last episode, retired CBS News stegosaurus Eric Engberg in November reemerged from the Jurassic Period to suggest to the unwitting populace that bloggers were responsible for the premature predictions of exit polls on Election Day. Now, with enough time having passed so that most of the nation has composed itself, another CBS News correspondent obviously working his way towards an early extinction, David Paul Kuhn, has this to say about all things not MSM:
Internet blogs are providing a new and unregulated medium for politically motivated attacks. With the same First Amendment protections as newspapers, blogs are increasingly gaining influence. While many are must—reads for political junkies, are some Internet blogs also being used as proxies for campaigns?
You gotta love it. The highest profile member of the organization that this man works for just retired in a cloud of shame over allegations that he reported information apparently coming from forged documents, and within weeks, the same outlet is pointing fingers at volunteer writers across the nation who share their thoughts with the public mostly out of a passion to do so. This is akin to exiting a restroom with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe, and then standing on top of a desk in your office so that everybody can see.
And what, pray tell, is truly bothering Mr. Kuhn and his employer about the blogs this time? Well, hold on to your seats, for it appears that a couple of bloggers in South Dakota who were pro—John Thune took money from his campaign...$35,000 BETWEEN THEM, to be exact. Oh, the HUMANITY!!! Of course, Mr. Kuhn conveniently neglects to inform the reader that Jon Lauck of Daschle v Thune, a university professor, and Jason Van Beek of South Dakota Politics, a university student, were hired by the Thune campaign well after establishing their blogs. Or that the $35,000 given to them for such nefarious and clandestine activities as analyzing polling data represented 0.0875% of the $40 million the two candidates spent on this campaign. The horror.
Speaking of missing the forest for the trees, I haven't been able to find any articles written by Mr. Kuhn wherein he expresses a commensurate level of shock and dismay concerning the fund raising and distribution activities of the group MoveOn.org, or the possibility that it was a '[proxy] for campaigns.' I guess Mr. Kuhn hasn't heard of them, or that the very day after his article came out concerning these bloggers receiving shameful sums of money in the tens of thousands of dollars, MoveOn.org announced with pride that it contributed as much as $300 million to Kerry and other Democratic candidates in 2004 —— potentially including Tom Daschle.
Actually, I just made a Kuhn pas. Of course he's heard of MoveOn.org. He's even written about them. Quite glowingly, in fact. Here's one of Mr. Kuhn's masterstrokes from September 8, 2004 :
A newly formed organization will soon begin airing ads stating that President Bush 'dodged his own military duty during Vietnam.' Called Texans for Truth, the group has ties to the liberal organization MoveOn.org.
In addition, Mr. Kuhn had previously written an article referencing this fabulous organization on June 29, 2004 while gushing with exultations about Hollywood's favorite left—wing propagandist:
Michael Moore has a war plan to defeat President Bush. With MoveOn.org, he now has his army.
The excruciatingly delicious irony here is that Mr. Kuhn obviously had much less of an ethical problem with Mr. Moore and MoveOn.org's plan that involved hundreds of millions of dollars and the potential for countless campaign finance violations than the completely legal payment of $35,000 by the Thune campaign to these bloggers —— that is, until the plan failed of course.
South Dakota Republicans decided that the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, which dominates the state's media since it's the only paper with a statewide circulation, was hopelessly biased in favor of Mr. Daschle. "The ability to use the Internet to circumvent concentrated media power became a 21st—century updating of 19th—century Dakota populism," says John Lauck, a history professor at the University of South Dakota who was allied with Mr. Thune. Mr. Lauck and several of his friends collaborated on blogs that constantly reminded voters of contradictions between Mr. Daschle's voting record and his statements in South Dakota, as well as the Argus Leader's refusal to acknowledge them.
Thankfully, it appears that the efforts of our heroes quite paid off:
The paper's readers also began to take notice of the range of coverage available on the blogs that mysteriously didn't show up in their local paper. "The Argus Leader often doesn't present the whole picture in its political coverage," Wendy Otheim, a teacher from Hartford, S.D., wrote the paper in October. "A multitude of blog sites make for interesting reading. Don't be held a captive audience to the Argus Leader."
Excellent advice, Ms. Otheim —— advice that it appears many South Dakotans took. As for Mr. Kuhn's contentions about our heroes, Mr. Van Beek addresses them best at his blog:
I began my blog a year before Thune declared his candidacy. I became a consultant for Thune in July of 2004, a year and six months AFTER I began blogging. From the beginning, I have always been very clear about my political predilections. I consistently told readers of my blog that I was pro—Thune. If my blog was a "proxy" for the Thune campaign then it can fairly be said that the Argus Leader and CBS have been proxies for Democratic campaigns since time immemorial. The difference is that I tell everyone I am not an objective observer. To this day, the Argus Leader and CBS hold themselves out as objective observers. I think blogs in general have pretty much exploded that notion. Yet the "mainstream media" continue to splutter about "dirty tricks" and "ethics" and make a nauseating show of wrapping themselves in virtue.
However, this doesn't answer the most important question stemming from this charade: Why is CBS News still fighting this battle? To be sure, they can't be pleased about the damage done to their reputation by Rathergate. Moreover, the efforts of our heroes ended up assisting in ousting Tom Daschle from his cushy post as the left's chief legislative obstructionist. Putting these two incidents together, along with the hostile response, one must conclude that the media chieftains have taken a look into the future, and they don't like what they see.
The Internet has been a scary invention, as far as the Democrats are concerned, ever since Matt Drudge broke the Monica Lewinsky story. Many of them have been calling for stricter regulations over this medium ever since. Now, with bloggers outing Dan Rather as well as aiding in the defeat of the Democratic Senate Minority Leader who was quite an ally to the media, the MSM is also crying for regulatory restrictions on free speech.
In a glorious holiday example of life imitating art, it appears that Mr. Potter is once again concerned about The Bailey Building and Loan threatening his business. Isn't life wonderful?
Noel Sheppard is an economic and geopolitical analyst and writer residing in Northern California. Noel receives e—mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.