September 10, 2004

They Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall

As many have noted, the greatest damage of the apparent forged memos concerning President Bush's time in the National Guard will be to Big Media. John Kerry was already, as I have been stating here for some time, going to lose badly, though this may help accelerate the process somewhat. But it is telling to look at how Big Media grabbed the story yesterday and ran with it, and how, even today, NPR was repeating it as though they were oblivious to the probability that these documents are forgeries.

This reveals an important aspect of media bias that isn't necessarily right-wing or left-wing, but insidious nonetheless -- the loss of skepticism and its replacement with a pervasive cynicism. The apparent absence of even a shred of skepticism about these documents by major news organizations is matched only by their cynicism that, of course, Bush lied, cheated, stole, was AWOL, or whatever else we want to accuse him of because, well, he's Bush and we know he's guilty of much, much worse. How else to explain why the NY Times, NPR, the AP, and others jumped out of the blocks and kept sprinting with this story towards the finish line even after it was clear that CBS had committed a false start?

Compare and contrast the treatment these accusations against President Bush received with the accusations made against Kerry by Swiftboat Veterans for Truth. Where was the skepticism about Kerry's frequently changing stories, or was it all used up on the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth? The cynicism and contempt for the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth is glaring as they were ignored by Big Media unless they could be maligned, usually with nothing more damning than an assertion from a partisan hack with an axe to grind that the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth were nothing more than partisan hacks with axes to grind. And yet, when Ben Barnes shows up with a shaky story that cannot withstand even one day of questioning in the blogosphere, he's featured and quoted and requoted along with some memos from unnamed individuals whose authenticity has been validated by unnamed experts. Nothing like building a house of cards on shifting sands in the face of a hurricane.

The blogosphere has become the ombudsman for Big Media, whether they like it or not. This has only become possible because the skepticism they value has been metamorphisized by market pressures, heat from new media, and world-weariness in the age of irony into a hardened cynicism. Hey Big Media, your protector of liberties crown wasn't stolen, you abdicated for a prominent seat at court. As for the great unwashed masses of the blogosphere, well...

We're here. We're fact checking your asses. Get used to it.

Posted by Charles Austin at September 10, 2004 12:13 PM