The Spectacle Blog

When Blogs Get it Wrong

By on 12.29.06 | 10:31AM

Hugh Hewitt is obnoxious in his defense of blogs in this interview with WSJ scribe Joseph Rago, who criticized blogs in a column last week for, among other things, their "minimal reportage." It's hard to see how one could disagree with Rago on this point. Yes, there are instances in which bloggers do what would be considered reporting, but an overwhelming majority of blog posts are based on linking to a MSM story and commenting on it. This fact doesn't stop Hewitt from cross examining Rago with such sanctimonious questions as:

HH: Well, thus far, I’ve identified the NSA story as being representative of the mainstream media, and Porkbusters and coverage of Supreme Court justices as being representative of new media, and I think new media is winning that run down. Do you want to put forward…other than Katrina, although I’m not sure you’d want to put forward Katrina, any major story on which the mainstream media has dominated in terms of reporting and analysis over the blogosphere?

This is an absurd on Hewitt's part. You never hear the end of it when bloggers get something right, but when they get something wrong, everybody forgets. Last year, an OklahomaUniversity student committed suicide by blowing himself up near a football stadium. The blogs lit up with outrage over the MSM largely ignoring a story that to bloggers looked like an attempted terrorist attack. Michelle Malkin was all over the story, Mark Tapscott tied the incident with a threat on the NYC subways around the same time and speculated that the two may be linked as part of a "Ramadan Offensive." The blogs got almost every aspect of the story wrong, even falsely claiming that the student was a Muslim. The WSJ later debunked many of the theories floating around the blogs.   

That's just one example, which I offer not to discredit all bloggers, but to respond to the arrogance of Hewitt. The informal nature of blogs, the speed of the medium, and the limitless space allows bloggers to brainstorm, debate ideas, throw out theories, get feedback and make use of all the arcane specialized knowledge they may have. On the whole, this is a good thing. However, at the same time, the MSM, which has the ability and resources to do more hands on reporting, and which acts as a filter, deserves respect as well. Obviously, I blog myself and find blogs useful, but I also think some bloggers, ironically, have developed the same sense of elitism and self importance that they deride the MSM for.

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