Old Media Takes on New Media: Are Bloggers Really the Problem?
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CNN’s Kyra Phillips and John Roberts spent a good five minutes yesterday expressing serious concern over what they called “the dark side” of the Internet: the plague of “anonymous bloggers” who are “a bunch of cowards” for not putting their names on what they say, and who use this anonymity to spread “conspiracy,” “lunacy,” “extremism” and false accusations (video below). The segment included excerpts from an interview with Andrew Keene, author of Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture, who explained that the Real Media must serve as “gatekeepers” to safeguard the public against the dangers of anonymity on the Internet. Roberts demanded that bloggers should “have the courage at the very least to put your name on it,” while Phillips announced: “something is going to have to be done legally. . . . these people have to be held accountable, they’re a bunch of cowards.” [The most noteworthy part of this might actually have come toward the end, when Roberts — out of absolutely nowhere — volunteered this creepy confession: “I always caution young people: never post a naked photograph of yourself on the Internet”; if there’s anything needing greater attention, it might be Roberts’ bizarre propensity for walking around starting conversations with “young people” about that].
These CNN journalists have a very good point, of course: it was, after all, Internet bloggers — using the scourge of anonymity — who convinced the nation of a slew of harmful conspiracy theories: Saddam had WMD,an alliance with Al Qaeda, and responsibility for the anthrax mailings. Anonymity is also what allowed bloggers to smear Richard Jewell, Wen Ho Lee, and Steven Hatfill with totally false accusations that destroyed their lives and reputation, and it’s what enabled bloggers to lie to the nation about Jessica Lynch’s heroic firefight, countless U.S. airstrikes, and a whole litany of ongoing lies about our current wars. And remember when anonymous bloggers spewed all sorts of nasty, unaccountable bile about Sonia Sotomayor’s intellect and temperament? Just as Roberts lamented, blogs — as a result of anonymity — are the “Wild West of the Internet . . . . like a giant world-wide bathroom wall where you can write anything about anyone.”
Indeed, what’s especially noble about establishment media journalists such as those on CNN, what vests them with so much deserved Credibility, is how much they hate anonymity because of how cowardly and unaccountable it is. There are several examples from the last 24 hours alone which demonstrate these high journalistic standards. Here is a Washington Post article from yesterday by Philip Rucker on the criticisms of the Obama administration from the Left:
“As a party, we respect the role that people like [Markos Moulitsas] and his blog play and understand that their role is to try to push the envelope further than it might be pushed otherwise,” said a senior Democratic official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “This has been the busiest and most successful Congress since the Great Depression and it’s been accomplished with big majorities. I don’t think anyone can argue that it would be better if Democrats are in the minority or have smaller majorities.”
So there, the Post granted anonymity to a “senior Democratic official” in order to explain how great the Democratic Party is and how important it is that they win in the election. Then there’s this U.S. News & World Report article from yesterday on Newt Gingrich’s presidential run:
Conservatives we talked to said that Gingrich is on to a good political issue should he run for the presidency. “Newt is going to be a very strong candidate,” said one supporter, a Washington political strategist and fundraiser.
There, U.S. News granted anonymity to a supporter of Gingrich to say what a strong candidate Gingrich is. And then there’s this extremely important and probing article from The New York Times today on the hurt feelings which many friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton (i.e., their large donors) are experiencing as a result of not having been invited to Chelsea’s wedding:
“I’m good enough to borrow a plane from, but not good enough to be invited to the wedding?” complained one Clinton friend, who remembered the times he handed over his jet and his pilot to take Bill Clinton around the country but had not landed a coveted invitation to Chelsea Clinton’s nuptials. . . . “I’m sure there are some people who are lobbying discreetly,” said someone who has known the Clintons for decades. “If they’re on the list, they will ballyhoo it quietly, and if they’re not on the list, their noses will be out of joint. I know some people whose noses are out of joint.” (Like most F.O.B.’s — Friends of Bill — the person did not want to be quoted by name, swearing by the wedding’s code of silence.) . . . Partly out of necessity, partly out of sincerity, they are trying to take it in stride. “It’s not a political rally, it’s not a state affair,” saidone longtime Clinton supporter who was not invited but was still nervous about upsetting the former president.
Click here to see but one of countless of examples of how much CNN itself hates cowardly anonymity. The catty, demanding insults in the 2004 campaign that John Kerry “looks French” and John Edwards is the “Breck Girl” were introduced to the public by The New York Times‘ Adam Nagourney, quoting an anonymous Bush aide. And, of course, pick any random Politico article from any day which shapes cable news coverage and Washington chatter for the week, and it’s certain to be based in this formula: one anonymous person said X and another anonymous person denied this.
At least anonymous bloggers are very clear and truthful about what they are. By stark contrast, all of these establishment media outlets perpetrate a total fraud on the public by pretending that they have standards for when anonymity will be used even though, as these examples from the last 24 hours alone prove, they routinely violatethose alleged standards for absolutely no reason. Just as Phillips and Roberts — and so many of their colleagues before them — explained, we need Real Journalists to protect us from all of that cowardly, unaccountable anonymity that anonymous bloggers use to destroy the Nation. It just never ceases to amaze how much establishment journalists love to rail against the Evils of Internet Anonymity when anonymity — for purposes ranging from catty, trivial gossip to pernicious propaganda and everything in between — is the central tool of their “profession” and of the political class they cover.