A Revolution in News; New Media Signals Truth on Bush Memos

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 14, 2004 | Go to article overview

A Revolution in News; New Media Signals Truth on Bush Memos


Byline: Tony Blankley, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

"The major advances in civilization are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur." That observation by the British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead came to mind this past week as I watched Dan Rather struggle violently like a proud old marlin caught on a hook by the young Internet fishermen. Twisting and turning, the great fish only drives the hook deeper in. Plunging and rising, it only exhausts itself while the exuberant Internet fishermen carefully manage the line and grab for the powerful hand hook with which they will end the great fish's sea-life.

I like a good fish dinner, but I've never cared much for fishing, as I hate to see a noble creature in its death agony. Yet that is what we are observing. This week it is Dan Rather and CBS News, through their failed effort to prove the legitimacy of their forged Bush National Guard documents, who are being revealed as hapless, helpless victims of an anarchic, swarming, overwhelming Internet blog technology. Soon, other great news institutions inevitably will be revealed for their inadequate capacity to fully report the news.

As in all revolutions, first, the old order must be destroyed, then we will learn both the strengths and the shortcomings of the new order. We got a glimpse of the Internet blogger's strength this past week.

For three-quarters of a century until last week, when CBS News had entered a fight it had been an unfair mismatch for its adversary. The credibility, research capacity and gatekeeping monopoly of CBS would overwhelm its victim. But last week it was breathtaking to see, moment by moment, the Internet blogger's advantage.

CBS did what it always has done: It produced and broadcast a highly polished segment in which the argument was magisterially framed to its advantage, with the facts favorable to CBS cherry-picked for presentation while annoying contrary facts were ignored. Carefully edited prime-time-quality interviews of their supposedly authoritative expert witnesses were laid in. The whole package was opened, narrated and concluded with dignified contempt for their victim by their star asset, Uber-anchor Dan Rather. Enough said. Full stop. Next matter. Long live the King.

Then the bloggers went to work. From the four corners of humanity experts started deconstructing the "truth" that CBS had presented. Who knew that there are experts who specialize just in the history of IBM selectric typing balls, or the kerning capacity of computer printing (the carrying of the tail in the letter "y" under the space of the preceding letter, as in the word "my. …

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