Duncan Riley> After threatening for so long to launch an attack on bloggers and blogging, old media has formally launched its attack on blogging this week following the forced resignation of Eason Jordon from CNN.
I would note that I prefer the use of the term “old media” (OM), although mainstream media, or MSM, is the common term being used in blogs currently. I personally differentiate OM from MSM, as not everyone in MSM is anti-blogging (indeed many MSM’s now have their own blogs), but in OM blog bashing has become endemic.
The new war was strangely launched from France, a country better known for fleeing from conflict rather than provoking war, aside from a small period in the earlier part of the 19th century, by Bertrand Pecquerie, a director for the World Association of Newspapers, who accused bloggers of McCarthyism.
It was followed shortly thereafter by James D. Miller at TCS, who fears the death of free speech in America.
And now we have Steve Lovelady, a former editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal and now managing editor of CJR Daily, the Web site of The Columbia Journalism Review, who refers to bloggers as “salivating morons” who are part of a lynch mob.
What is unique in the war on blogging is that the battles are not one based on politics, but one based on hatred of the blogosphere by the old media as it continues to lose readership and the revenues a large readership attracts. The targets are both those on the left and right of the blogosphere.
Perhaps somewhat swamped by the Eason Jordon story this week was the tale of Jeff Gannon, allegedly a fake reporter planted into the White House to ask easy questions of the Bush Administration, who was hounded out of his position by left wing bloggers, in a not too dissimilar way to Eason Jordon. Famously, before these two, there was CBS Anchor Dan Rather, who despite attempts to dismiss his use of fake evidence to derail the re-election campaign of George W Bush, was hounded to resign by a relentless campaign amongst conservatively minded bloggers.
Whilst, some may say not surprisingly, there has not been a huge outpouring of hate from old media over Gannon, the accountability Gannon, Rather and Jordon were held to by blogs of both the left, and right respectively reflect a new level of scrutiny provided by the blogosphere irrespective of political allegiance.
And guess what: old media doesn’t like it, and old media protects its own.
I’ll leave the conspiracy theories regarding old media to others, but it is clear from recent comments, and even comments from others in old media going back years now that they don’t like blogs. The common thread amongst most critics is a denigration of blogs as an illegitimate source of news, based, it seems, nearly entirely on the premise that bloggers do not have editors, and therefore are incapable of providing factual information.
Like little boys who are unable to cross the road without holding their mothers hand, old media continue to justify their use of editors in a Freudian attempt at justifying their love for their employers.
And now, as they face scrutiny unlike anything they have been subject to before, they invoke images of a mob mentality, of McCarthyism, and will undoubtedly soon start quoting verse from Arthur Miller’s the Crucible in its attacks on blogs.
But what is most disturbing in the new wave of attacks is the gross hypocrisy of old media who so conveniently gloss over their own shortcomings when attacking blogs.
I’m no historian on American political and social history, but I would guess that there are thousands of examples of public figures behind hounded out of their positions, whether celebrities, politician’s or others in positions of power and influence, by old media.
Was it not the Washington Post that led the charge that forced Richard Nixon to resign as President of the United States?
In Australia, so much as a hint of a scandal creates a wave of salivating press hacks camping outside the house of the soon victim to be, invading their privacy and denigrating their names, all for the sake of a few extra sales.
A more recent example (although personally I would say fairly) was the leader of the Opposition here in Australia, Mark Latham, who, suffering from Pancreatitis was hounded from not only the leadership of the Labor Party, but to the point of resigning his seat in the House of Representatives.
There were, of course, a number of Ministers hounded from office in the first term of the current Howard Federal Government over relatively minor matters, all led by old media.
The press in the United Kingdom is famous for its ability to hound public individuals into all sorts of situations, including violence.
Whilst certainly by no means a full list of examples, most would get the picture. Old media did, and still do not only report on those that have erred in the public eye, but in many cases go overboard in their attempts to report the story.
Bloggers have not staked out private residences, nor thrust Television camera’s into people’€™s faces. They have simply reported what they believe to be fact.
Which is worse, a media salivating for blood with telescopic photo lenses, or a relatively small number of bloggers sitting at their computers writing on the events of the day.
Who is really the lynch mob?
“Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone”, the saying goes. If bloggers have sinned in the cases of Rather, Jordon and Gannon, then old media should take a look at itself first.
The attacks are motivated only by the ethos of the journalist’s involved. As Rony Abovitz, the blogger who first posted Jordan’s comments, concluded after asking journalists at the World Economic Forum if they were going to write about the comments, they were not because journalists wanted to protect their own.
And their continued attempts to defend their own will see a continuation in the war on blogging.
We can only hope going forward that more champions amongst the MSM will emerge to challenge their old media counterparts and the battle will be defeated on the Televisions, Radios and in the Newspapers of America.
And in the mean time, blogging will continue to grow and expand, as if the war had never existed.