Wednesday, September 15, 2004
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Orin Kerr pages the right half of the blogosphere
Astute readers may have observed that I have refrained from posting about Swift Boats, Kitty Kelley, typewriter fonts et al.
While I certainly understand why the rest of the blogosphere is exercised about this stuff, Orin Kerr says what I've been thinking:
Now, I take Ramesh Ponnuru's point that bloggers don't have an obligation to do anything -- though that is one reason why some journalists don't like them. And readers should feel free to post comments here on why they disagree or agree with Orin or why these matters are vitally important questions before the republic compared to Iraq or Russia. Really, post away.
But this is the first and last post you will read at danieldrezner.com about this subject. Because substantively,* I just don't care about any of it -- which is why I feel no desire to write about it.
My one and only political response to all of this stuff is very simple, and echoies Lawrence Lessig: does anyone seriously believe that this election should be decided by what either candidate did more than thirty years ago?
*For the blog paper Henry Farrell and I are writing, I'll confess to some interest in the role blogs have played in framing these stories.
UPDATE: TMH reminds me why I like my comments section, as he makes a decent point:
I don't buy (c) for a minute, but (a) and (b) have some traction.
Check out Baseball Crank, who makes similar points.
On the other hand... those who take the blogosphere as able to influence the media should read Telis Demos' TNR Online piece and ask whether blogs have been consistent in their media critique (though see David Adesnik's critique as well). [UPDATE: Hey, whaddaya know, bloggers have at this -- except that it turns out Demos' story was the one with factual errors. See Stuart Buck and Brian Carnell on this point (hat tip to Crow Blog for the links)]
Oh, and one final point: this post certainly shouldn't be interpreted as a defense of CBS. This Josh Marshall post -- which offers an interpretation that's most favorable to their reporting -- sums it up. "GotterDannerung" indeed.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Orin Kerr responds to his critics. The key part:
posted by Dan on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM
I don't car what either candidate did thirty years ago either. The NG adn Swift Vets are non-stories for me.
The interesting (and big!) story here is whether people outside mainstream journalism can improve reporting. I think the answer is yes. The Internet is still very young, and it's impact on journalism has still not been even one-quarter realized. Hopefully hordes of fact checking bloggers will alter the way news is delivered to us.posted by: Tim on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
This is more about CBS than about Bush v Kerry.
If the public's currently inflated opinion of CBS is punctured, then the ability of Rather and CBS to effectively campaign for the Democrats in this election and future elections will be seriously impaired.
That is why the forged memo is a big deal.posted by: Nigel Kearney on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
The reason why this is important is that CBS has been shown to have presented these documents on 60 Minutes II as being real, when forensic document experts had warned them before the show that they were suspect if not forgeries. CBS News went ahead, for whatever reason.
I can't fathom their motivation, as they were obviously fraudulent. The worst possible take on this that these forged documents were produced in an attempt to influence the election.
I always knew Dan Rather was a liberal (presumably like you), but I thought of him as professional. Apparently, his critical faculty has atrophied. I don't know what other answer there is. He so wanted this story to be true, he went with it (as many others have said).
The election is not about what went on 30 years ago, although the Kerry campaign doesn't have many other options, so they went with that as a last-ditch strategy to beat the President. On the other hand, isn't Senator Kerry's anti-war activities in 1971 and 1972 an issue, especially given that the Winter Soldier conference and his testimony are widely believed to be fraudulent (except by rabid anti-war activitists: the "indy media" guys).
Dan is right. This story is not about CBS any more than it is about all the crappy journalism that let the lies of Swift Boat Vets for Destroying American Democracy spew their lies without being challenged.
Both stories demean us all. We need to be talking about which candidate has the ideas, the track record, the team, the leadership etc. to make the US economy stronger and the world safer.
Unfortunately it seems that Bush knows that he can't win that debate, and Kerry doesn't have enough political skills to make sure that is the debate. So Bush slides right into the gutter and Kerry follows and we are all dragged down as well.
Good times.posted by: Rich on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Mr. Kerr is begging the question: If we can't trust our news source, how can we make informed decisions about the larger, more important issues. Dr. Drezner, for one, often complains that outsourcing is poorly reported on in the press. Rantingprofs.com makes a good case that only one side of the War in Iraq is reported in the mainstream press. Certainly, my experience--and my nose--tells me that I'm not getting good information from the press, especially on this election. Thus, Rathergate is important, and maybe even more important than the important issues we'd all rather hear discussed. If we can't trust the messenger, the message is meaningless.posted by: Greg on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Exactly. The media is the lens through which the vast majority of people in this country view the events that shape our world: Iraq, Russia, and the rest of it. If we can't trust the media, how can we trust the information we use to form judgments?
The scandal isn't about Vietnam. It's about the media. That's why it's important.posted by: brett on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I admit to having completely missed where the personal stories about candidates would go after the Swift Boat chapter wound down. I had thought Kerry would recognize what made so many people prepared to believe very dubious stories about his service in Vietnam -- his role in the anti-war movement after coming back, and specificially the rhetoric he aimed at the military -- and address it in some way.
He didn't. Instead, we are seeing story after story on Bush's TANG service. These might have damaged Bush had they been discussed four years ago. After four years as President, voters feel they have a basis to like or dislike him, so thirty-five year old documents make no impact on them. Kerry's campaign staff may think they are playing hardball, and CBS may think it has uncovered the big story. They're both wrong.
And, while they are busy being wrong Iraq is not the only issue the candidates are not discussing. Immigration, space, trade, China and Taiwan, the dueling economic programs neither of which add up without ballooning an already gigantic deficit, the future of Medicare: this is a really impressive list of things Bush and Kerry are not talking about, and the media covering them are not talking about, while Bush gives speeches about how proud he is of his Guard service and Kerry gives speeches that take their inspiration from Sesame Street ("W is for Wrong" and so forth. I really dread a John Kerry Inaugural speech: "My fellow Americans, my friends, I love you. You love me. We're a happy family in America.").
It ought to be a source of national humiliation that these two guys are now presented as the best we can do.posted by: Zathras on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Let's see: ideas, track record, team, leadership? Advantage Kerry? Really, Rich? A guy who never even headed a friggin Senate committee (the equivalent of being the leader of student council in high school). And what "team" are we talking about here? I haven't seen prominent Dems (least those not on the payroll) hitting the campaign trail hard for JFK, or am I missing something? Sure, Bill just got out of the hospital (odd timing, that, eh?) but what of Hil?
So, again, I'm not making GWB out to be any great shakes. But the choice is pretty clear. Not on the basis of what they did in the 60s--frankly, they were both flaming you know whats then, but they were hardly alone it seems. I AM talking about the recent past, the present and the future.
Dan, don't be so dismissive of how important the "issues" of today are to voters. Most people know that Iran is a looming crisis, and I've not found a one of my friends and family supporting Kerry who is satisfied with Edwards' "solution" there (let the mullahs keep the reactors but make them give over the spent fuel--pretty please with sugar?).
The fact is, we have no idea how a President Kerry would respond to a second terrorist strike on home soil. Does he wander the halls of the UN shaking a cup at the Europeans? Does he blast a target(s) with double force to show he is "macho"?
I see too many people running scared at the polls that say we are unpopular in the world--as if this is new--and turning to Kerry as a way of salving the world's ire. This is a mistake. We cannot appease our "friends" any more than we can our enemies. We must choose a path and follow it through. I for one haven't seen where this path is going clearly enough to abandon it for one I'm pretty sure looks as bad if not worse.posted by: Kelli on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I've been saying the same thing as Kerr for a few days now. Although, I did link to this funny picture.
It'd be nice if bloggers could try to walk and chew gum at the same time. Every time they feel a need to offer a post with 40 links and 5 updates, offer another post having to deal with the issues.
And, yes I do enjoy a good MSM smackdown. However, we also need to keep an eye on the clock.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I guess to me it's pretty damn important that elements of the unelected and unaccountable fourth branch of the government, the mainstream media, apparently decided to coordinate with the Kerry campaign on the "Favored Son" campaign bandwagon by foisting obviously fraudulent memos (their own hired experts vainly tried to stop them, pleading that this would blow up in their face). Now they are concealing the source of the memos (almost certainly someone high up in the DNC). The blogosphere caught them on the hook and is now reeling them in.
Dan Drezner, who at one point was a man who trumpetted the arrival of the blogosphere from every rooftop, remained oddly silent on the biggest coup ever for bloggers -- a takedown of Dan Rather, 60 Minutes, CBS News and perhaps the Kerry campaign for outrageous lack of professional integrity.
I thought he might have been buried under loads of soiled diapers, but now he responds that the story just doesn't interest him. I guess when the news is really bad for the man he has decided to vote for in November, he manages to push it out of mind.
I'm really disappointed to see how Jeff Jarvis and Mr. Drezner have reacted to this earth-shattering turn of events. I sort of expected it from Jeff, but I surely thought a younger person not personally wedded to the extreme left would be able to celebrate in the coming-out party of the bloggers. I guess I ignored how deeply the reality distortion field of academia bores into the skull, and how deep the loathing is for the Texas Cowboy on virtually every campus in America.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I don't know how anyone can say that this doesn't matter - relative to this election or otherwise. There is strong circumstantial evidence indicating that CBS attempted to engineer a fraud on the US public and influence an election. That may or may not be true, of course, and we'll never know for sure because CBS clearly doesn't want us to know, but the stakes are too high to brush off as a 'he said-she said' story.
That said, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe fact based, non-partisan news died long ago. There's right news and left news. We're supposed to create our bookmarks, program our TIVOs and subscribe to 'our' newspapers and just ignore the 'other' news (except to note, occassionally, how misguided it is).
It's hard enough to bridge the beliefs and values of Americans without also having to overcome alternate sets of facts. But it seems like that's where we're headed.posted by: Matthew Ryan on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Yes, that is what the election should be about. It's a relatively free market (of ideas) that has determined the subject of discussion, and the market has spoken. Evidently, discussion about what Bush (or Kerry) did 35 years ago is what sells, and intelligent discussion of outsourcing or some such does not. (I include the supposed elite in this characterization: you will notice the enthusiasm with NYT columnists, or Drum, DeLong, Kleiman et al., plunge into the Vietnam discussion.)
I for one have not had access to some Platonic world of elections, to say that they would be somehow be better if the topics of discussion were more to Mr. Drezner's liking.posted by: y81 on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
My one and only political response to all of this stuff is very simple: does anyone seriously believe that this election should be decided by what either candidate did more than thirty years ago?
If it were even remotely true that noone believes that the election should be decided by this stuff, John Kerry would never have began his convention speech by saying "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty."
However, the fact is that Kerry did begin his speech that way... in fact the whole convention heavily emphasized what he did 35 years ago (but NOT what he did 33 years ago, of course). So SOMEBODY in the Kerry campaign (I'm betting the candidate himself) believes that a lot of people will base their choice in the election on what happened 30+ years ago.
Now, perhaps Dan feels that he knows which issues are important better than all those people who Kerry was reaching out to. But I'm sufficiently anti-elitist to say that if people want to base their decisions on the candidates' 30+ year old actions, they should feel free...posted by: Al on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Let me add that I'm pretty impressed by Dan's consistency. I was curious whether he felt differently back when the AWOL/Guard issue first came up at the beginning of the year. And guess what - I ran a search of the site for "AWOL" and "National Guard" and nothing of relevance came up. So it looks like Dan's been fairly consistent in his view. Good for him.posted by: Al on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
To swipe Kelli’s outline (I like it) ……
I’d say that the above favors Kerry – but rational disagreement is expected.
What can this man point to as accomplishments under his “leadership”?
At the risk of repeating myself, we are in very deep and its going to take a very long time to get out of the mess we have made in Iraq. We have lost the initiative in the war in Iraq – and also in the larger “war on terror” because of our force-stretching commitment in Iraq. We are reacting – not acting! Events and insurgents appear to be setting the tempo and “running us” right out of Iraq – no matter who gets elected. We have lost control of most of the Sunni heartland, a large portion of the Shia regions, and even a large part of Baghdad itself. The Marines were sent into Fallujah in spite of the recommendations to the contrary by the commanders on the ground and than pulled out of Fallujah before they could finish the job they were sent to do – again, in spite of the recommendations of the commanders on the ground. I understand that most of the weapons turned over to our Iraqi “allies” in Fallujah are now in the hands of the rebels who control Fallujah. We are _diverting_ funds from rebuilding/reconstruction to security!
This is leadership?
Matthew Cromer wrote:
Dan Drezner, who at one point was a man who trumpeted the arrival of the blogosphere from every rooftop, remained oddly silent on the biggest coup ever for bloggers -- a takedown of Dan Rather, 60 Minutes, CBS News and perhaps the Kerry campaign for outrageous lack of professional integrity.
Well put. There does seem to be an increasing air of phoniness about Dan Drezner’s “oh I’m on the fence, watch me try to pretend that my mind wasn’t really made up months ago” act.
posted by: Thorley Winston on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
What we are now seeing is "open source news", published through the blogosphere:
That is the real story of what we have witnessed over the last week. It transcends whether you like or hate the TANG-memo story or the Swift Boat Vets storyline.posted by: Jim Bender on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I wouldn't call Dan a phony. That's way too harsh. He's been honest with us as far as I can see. He just seems to be caught up in his own interpretation of reality and not seeing that much of the big picture right now. At least we (thankfully) aren't seeing much more of the "competency" meme anymore after Kerry's hideous August and the latest Memogate / Favorite Son fiasco.
Here's more on the "competency" of John Kerry. Fascinating reading.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
does anyone seriously believe that this election should be decided by what either candidate did more than thirty years ago?
No. And CBS should not be allowed to attempt to influence the election based on it -- especially with documents that any rational person can see are not originals.
We are being cheated. Bush has a record based on the last four years -- like it or hate it. It is up to Kerry to make a case for different policies. Why can't he tell us what he will do differently and stick to his story? I grow to admire Howard Dean more everyday. At least he called it out.posted by: John on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Ooh. TV is a terrible source for news. Duh!
At least more people will finally get that out of all of this.posted by: fling93 on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I don't care what the candidates did thirty years ago, but I do care how they explain those doings thirty years later. I think Kerry's problem is not so much his actions of thirty years ago as his inability or unwillingness to resolve the contradictions between those actions. Kerry still hasn't explained the relationship between his military past and his anti-war past. Without Kerry's explanation, the Swifties were able to insert their own - that his anti-war efforts were a betrayal of his time in uniform.
In other words, I think that the mudslinging is not so much a subtitute for ideological debate as the symptom of one. Like Vietnam itself, it's a proxy war, where seemingly meaningless territory is bloodily taken and retaken far from the shores of the two real antagonists.posted by: Replicant on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Two quick points:
One, the "neutral news media" is a myth and always was. Every anchor, reporter, writer or producer has a bias, and every media institution (to a greater or lesser extent) hires more or fewer people of that bias and/or allows them to express it. Nothing new.
Two, there is plenty of serious discussion of the issues out there -- in the loathed MSM, that is. Just today the Journal is running a half-page piece by John Kerry himself explaining his proposed economic policy, and I haven't seen it linked anywhere in the blogoshere -- not even by econobloggers like Dan D. And the Times today has a quite good op-ed contribution about the Bush administration's policies and actions regarding North Korea (an explicit rebuttal to Kerry's recent criticism), which I likewise have not seen linked anywhere on the web.
So enough with the blogosphere triumphalism. So we caught Dan Rather in a lie -- great. I'm not cancelling my newspaper subscription just yet.posted by: George on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Ideas: step one, turn fan on; step two, dump barrelfull of taxpayer money into the wind; step three, wave bye bye. Honestly, I could do with less of the "tax cut" mania from Bush, but Kerry's economic plan is an equal panderfest--just to different sectors. We'll call their economic plans a draw.
Did I mention that wherever there's a draw, advantage is to Bush? Hey, I don't make the rules.
So, let's talk team. You choose to ignore the obvious: that the starpower of the two parties was almost entirely on the Republican side this summer. Guiliani, McCain, Schwartzenagger on the one side--Obama on the other. Is it close?
Now leadership is such an abstract thing, it's hard to draw a clear bead. But let's acknowledge that leaders have to be able to connect to their followers. Who has Kerry connected to, ever? That's why we keep getting dragged back to 'nam--look, I was human then, I could "speak their language." Had a certain je ne sais quoi, y'know?
I know a bunch of people who know Kerry or have worked with him. No one ever said (as was true of Gore) "he's a stiff on tv, but in person a really warm, funny guy." Hell, his WIFE doesn't say that. Where was her "this guy's an ANIMAL in bed" smooch?
Legislation bearing Kerry's name/imprimatur: zilch. Causes (not Vietnam related) associated with his life as an elected official: none.
Vote for me, I was the least visible man in Washington for 19 years. Now there's a bumper sticker.posted by: Kelli on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Before anyone gets huffy, I should mention I haven't exactly pored over the blogosphere today, I just haven't seen anything in the places I regularly visit.posted by: George on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
This is not a valiant action by rightwing bloggers to police the TV news media. If it were, they would have gone in boots and all after their own side's mouthpiece, Fox. And they would have gone after the Swift Boat Liars.
CBS is the only network TV news that has tried at all to counter Bush propaganda. It was 60 minutes that highlighted Richard Clark; it is CBS that goes against the tide of airheads repeating GOP talking points; it is CBS that does NOT get its story ideas from GOP National Headquarters. (Unlike, say, CNN, where you can track a GOP talking point from its emergence on NRO directly onto the newscast.)
For that reason, and that reason alone, CBS is targeted by the right.
It should also be noted that the substance of the story is not in dispute: Bush did refuse a direct order to report for a physical, and was grounded for it.
I agree that we don't need to go back 30 years to know about Bush's cowardice, mendacity, and moral bankruptcy. We have more recent, and more irrefutable, evidence of Bush's cowardice, mendacity and moral bankruptcy.posted by: CaseyL on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
As others have so eloquently said - this is about the MSM/DNC machine and what it will do to bend the political system to its will. That is more important than Iraq or prescription drug subsidies.posted by: ZEKE on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I disagree with the notion that the story of CBS News apparently aiding and abetting the forging of military records to discredit the President isn’t a real story. It’s most interesting as a story about the media, rather than just about politics, but it’s certainly significant.
That said, other issues, such as Iraq, are clearly more important, but (a) bloggers have less ability to influence them and less incentive to “cover” every development there, (b) most people have already long since made up their minds about the big issues and (c) most undecided Presidential voters don’t seem to care much about them. For better or worse, the thinking seems to be that “undecideds” can more easily be swayed about candidates’ biographies than about the issues. Hence, the re-fighting of the Vietnam War this campaign season.
Perversely, I think we’ll only see a real focus on issues (like the war, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, health care, the future of the Supreme Court, etc…) AFTER the election.
P.S. did the guy commenting right ahead of me just say that CNN was a GOP mouthpiece? That's novel.posted by: TMH on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I think TMH nailed it. The CBS document story isn't more important than Iraq, but everything that can possibly be said Iraq has already been said.
More importantly, bloggers are taking an interest in the document story because the story is largely about bloggers. The effects of bloggers on the outside world was a popular topic in blogs long before the memo controversy. I think even Dan Drezner talks about that quite a bit.posted by: Xavier on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
The swift boat liars were all at the DNC.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Oh, and Casey, the story is that your side conspired with CBS to throw the election with fraudulent documents, and got caught because they are incompetent.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Can anyone fathom this story even being _pursued_ by CBS if John Kerry was the target? Thats the bottom line, Dan Rather was out to get George Bush and took some shortcuts that came back to bite him. Did Rather intentionally mislead? In a sense, yes. He intentionally stacked the deck of his story with only favorable evidence, and buried exculpatory evidence. No question about that. The only story here is that Goldberg was absolutely right, and anyone that denies the natural bias of the MSM at this point is a pathetic joke. Not surprising so much as a relief. No more pretending.posted by: mark buehner on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Since I haven't seen that theory anywhere outside the RW blogosphere, I'll believe it around the same time I believe the earth is flat.posted by: CaseyL on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Yo Casey - you bet on the wrong pony. Deal with it.posted by: ZEKE on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Kelli – Bare knuckles, eh?
Vote for me – I’m the devil you know.
Boy are you gonna' be mad on election night Texas Toast. Please don't key my car.posted by: ZEKE on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Prof. Drezner asks:
The huge irony embodied in this question was touched on by Al (above), but it cries out for amplification. Not only did Kerry himself make what he did thirty years ago the centerpiece of his entire campaign, but Drezner apparently remains inclined to cast his vote for that same candidate! I share some of Drezner's misgivings about Bush's strategic miscalculations in Iraq, but I cannot fathom how the flip-flopping Kerry would do any better. Like it or not, a Kerry win would be interpreted by Islamo-fascists as a sign of U.S. retreat. As for the subject of the scandalous 60 Minutes report, the follies of youth and/or young adulthood are for me a marginal but not negligible mark of character. But as others have pointed out, Drezner misses the big point, seemingly unaware of the significance of the collapse of journalistic integrity at CBS.posted by: Andrew on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Yes Texas is right -- Kerry would be GREAT for the economy -- Trial Lawyers running rampant with no reforms in sight, socialized health care destroying innovation and our leadership, tax rates raised through the roof on small, job-creating businesses, no entitlement reform for SS or medicare, tariffs raised, payoffs to inefficient business in the name of "no outsourcing", the bag of goodies just doesn't quit, does it? Oh, I forgot about raising the capital gains rate and corporate income tax. How could I forget about that?posted by: Matthew Cromer on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Sorry to double comment on here, but I just wanted to clarify my point C from before. As this site indicates, there clearly are very intelligent, issue-oriented voters who are on the fence. It’s just that a lot of perhaps-less-educated “undecideds” seem much more personality-focused/influenced than the partisans. Thus, I think it's interesting that many partisans, who really care about particular issues, try to emphasize their candidate’s personality and biography in an effort to persuade those on the fence, while sometimes under-emphasizing the very issues they themselves care most about. It’s just a weird dynamic at work.posted by: TMH on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Let me posit this, the news on the big issues is so atrociously bad for Bush, and let;s face it, it really is, that this is all the right really has. Petty irrelevant arguments. Iraq is foobar'd and we all know its Bush's incompetence that did it. The economy is f'd and we all know Bush didn't even bother to do the bare minimum to help (properly structured tax cuts that actually served as a stimulus). I mean comeon Dan, if you were going to vote for Bush, and wanted to discuss real issues, what would you discuss? Bush isn't even running on his record, who are the wingnuts going to debate it? What's very unfortunate is that Bush's strategy of "hey look over there" is working perfectly.posted by: Jor on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
".. does anyone seriously believe that this election should be decided by what either candidate did more than thirty years ago?"
True, but one candidate spent the last year and a half saying 'I served in Vietnam'; so much so that it became a cliched joke.
I would have paid a lot of money to take a trip, in November of 2000, to the "alternate universe" where Gore came out 300 votes ahead of Bush, Gore's brother was the governor of FL, the FL supreme court were all Republicans, the US Supremes were 5-4 liberal, etc etc etc, but I'd *really* pay some bucks for a visit to the alternate universe where Bush went into the Navy, Kerry into the Massachusetts ANG, Bush got the 3 Purple Hearts, Kerry left MANG early to go to BU Law, etc etc etc. It would so much fun, just to observe stuff like the desperate emotional attachment of the LWers to the Purple Heart/Swift Boat stories, and the intense, pompous disdain of the RWers for any man who would not serve out his 6 year MANG duty with due diligence....posted by: Joe Mealyus on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
This wouldn't be such a big story if there wasn't a vacuum in leadership on the Kerry side. The way Kerry has handled this doesn't give me much confidence in his abilities. This isn't high school debate or a courtroom. It's politics and the ability to get out in front of an issue, handle unexpected events (like forged documents), control your own organization, articulate a compelling vision and define the debate on your own terms matter. (I'm a fan of divided government and I would really like to be able to vote against Bush if there is a credible alternative).
For example, Kerry could apologize for some of the things that were said during the winter soldier investigation, denounced\ the forged documents and say that everything before 1980 should be off limits. Kerry isn't going to pick up any additional votes based on his Vietnam service and Bush isn't going to lose any votes of his and this is the perfect opportunity to neutralize the Swift Vets while Bush is under attack.posted by: KevinM on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I'd love to hear reasoned discourse from the left on the matter of Iraq and the WoT and others. Perhaps you can point to such materials as they apply to this election?
The truth is that Kerry et al have no position here. I mean, how great would it be to have him come out and say that he is the candidate for peace, describe the virtues of turning the other cheek, etc., but instead he's trying to be on both sides of every issue so that he doesn't alienate any voters. At this point, I'm still not convinced that the Democrats know the right question, much less the right answer.
No, we can't have that debate because Kerry wants to talk about his Vietnam war experience as the defining quality for his candidacy. Of course, when his true record was exposed, lefty reactionaries planted false Vietnam-era memos to try and hurt Bush, which proves twice that they are still trying to make Kerry's experience the defining attribute. Incredible!
So, to answer your question Danny, we can't have the debate because the Kerry Kampers don't want to take a position, and we are focused on this other crap precisely because the Kampers are trying to make 30-yr history the sole point of debate as proxy.
From the way you framed the question, it seems that you're still planning to vote for this vacuum leader.
Contrast that with the motley crew on display in Boston in July (no, not the Sox, that OTHER motley crew). What you saw there was a mediocre lineup with the thinnest of imaginable benches. Sad, really. Maybe the Dems should hire Steinbrenner (what are that guy's politics, anyway?).
And yeah, Toast, sometimes voting for the devil you know IS the wise choice.
By the way, for once I am "in the van" as theory-heads used to say. Seems women are deserting Kerry in droves--especially suburban mothers. Talk about RETRO! I guess at the end of the day we really do want a big strong lug of a man to protect our kids from "evildoers", and somehow, a guy who married not one but two women for their generously endowed purses doesn't fit the bill.
And as for Clinton's leadership abilities--just look at the number of people who (in his wife's case, repeatedly) threw themselves on grenades to save him! Where are Kerry's loyalists (cue sounds of crickets in the night sky)?
Confucius say, man who call himself leader have following of one. The fortune cookie doesn't lie.posted by: Kelli on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
We should be blogging about how a supposedly reliable major network news agency has attempted to influence, through fraudulent means, our nation's presidential election process. And also how they were caught red-handed by a bunch of pajama-wearing bloggers. And how, when caught, the supposedly reliable major network news agency attempted to worm its way out of responsibility.posted by: Out4Blood on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
The problem with the media is that they have gotten into the habit of only reporting what someone says, and they will report anything someone says as long as it sounds important. Plausibility is less of an issue.
That's why talking points and distortions from both campaigns make it into the news as if they were facts. Kerry said X, the Bush campaign replied NOT X. The media won't tell us which one is accurate (possibly neither).
In Februrary even the New York Times reported on a fake photograph showing John Kerry and Jane Fonda side by side on a podium as if the photograph might be real. The headline of the article was "Conservatives Shine Spotlight on Kerry's Antiwar Record". The New York Times did not bother to do some research first - in fact, reports on the photo being a fake were apparently already on the internet (on Snopes) before the NYT published the article.
CBS similarly fell for an anti-Bush forgery. It appears to be the first of its kind, whereas the right has been steadily producing anti-Kerry propaganda lies which have generally been reported as possible versions of the truth by the "MSM" and as the truth and nothing but the truth by such "journalists" as Sean Hannity and his friends at Fox News.
There is no excuse for CBS's false reporting, but the Bush campaign still leads the score in terms of lies and distortions reported by the media as possible facts by a factor of at least 10:1. But the right-wing commentators here seem to think that due diligence by the media is only required when it comes to negative stories about their guy.
" (a) bloggers have less ability to influence them and less incentive to “cover” every development there"
I think this is right on the edge of a good insight. I don't think bloggers have any less influence there than they do on other issues. They just have significantly less experience to draw on when fact-checking the media on Iraq. In the United States, nearly everyone has worked with memos, and there must be tens if not hundreds of thousands of people who worked in print shops, in secretarial pools, or with typesetting. As such there was a lot of distrubuted knowledge available to blogs on those issues. This allowed for quick sifting of information by hyperlinking. Once the fraud was discovered, hundreds of people with relevant information could scrutinize the documents.
The same is not true in Iraq. The number of bloggers with personal experience in Iraq is low. The number with personal experience with todays events in Iraq are even lower. It is possible for bloggers to ask the right questions, but they can't provide as many specific answers because the knowledge base isn't as deep. This is made especially difficult because military history has been out of favor as a field of study for decades.
That is why a blogger like Wretchared at BelmontClub is so important.posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Note to Kerry supporters:
That he's not done so yet, and looks not to be doing it anytie soon should be the biggest Clue Bat of all.
We have heard the CBS story before. Bloggers have been pounding away at The New York Times for years, and the CBS documents flap is the same kind of thing.
Just as many conservatives define themselves by being Not Liberals, and many liberals define themselves by being Not Right Wing, many bloggers define themselves in terms of being Not Major Media. If The Times or CBS or CNN gets a story wrong or butters up the wrong source, bloggers have an automatic hook. Since defending themselves as individuals and their employers as institutions is second nature to major media journalists (as it is to most people) keeping up with attacks and stories originating in the blogosphere is taking up an increasing amount of space in newspapers and time on network news broadcasts.
But at bottom these are stories about news and opinion media; they are only incidentally stories about the government, let alone the country. Five years from now who gave CBS the forged TANG documents will be the answer to a trivia question, but the major consequences of inaction on immigration or the budget deficit will be obvious to every one. Bloggers write about the media because that is what they know; the media writes about itself for the same reason.posted by: Zathras on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
1. It fascinates me that Bush is the candidate accused of runing a negative campaign. The Dems have been running a negative campaign against Bush for a year now. Bush's campaign has had its negative moments, but they were largely directed at Kerry's record in the Senate, not his service in Vietnam. In addition, Bush's acceptance speech laid out a policy agenda filled with ideas about what he was going to do in the next four years. Kerry's acceptance speech, OTOH, was largely about his service in Vietnam.
2. What CBS did was inexcusible. Their shoddy reporting and the subsequent cover-up deserve all the harsh criticism levied so far, plus some more. The story continues to take up airspace because CBS is sticking to it. Don't expect this matter to go off the radar screen until CBS comes clean.
3. John Kerry is specifically avoiding running this campaign on issues for reasons set forth by Dick Morris (in short, because his supporters are split on many defining issues such that if Kerry says anything he alienates some portion of his base). Why, for example, has Kerry refused to take questions from the press for five weeks? (Bush has faced reporters four times in that same time period).posted by: Ben on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
It can be argued that B has virtually no traction, in that pro-Kerry bloggers very early on were open to the possibility of fraud and responsive to evidence thereof. That is, they did not make up their minds on this new issue in the way that favored their candidate.
Greetings all. I wandered in via my referral logs, as someone linked me via comment above.
I'm an Active Duty GI getting ready to deploy to.. uh.. somewhere, and I find the Rather story a real escape in an otherwise high stress time. The coverage of the forgeries is a nice distraction - and lets face it, the story does signal a shift in the way Americans process "news" information. I consider most previous blogosphere celebrations slightly over rated, but really, this may be the "killer app"
Were I you all I'd expect a ton of Iraq related headlines over the next few weeks, as all other previous attempts to lower GWB's polling numbers by an antagonistic media have failed.
I'll be blogging from 'over there' soon enough. Stop by from time to time and as a guy with a vested interest in truth I'll try to provide another viewpoint from what you'll likely see elsewhere.posted by: greyhawk on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Let's see - Rather & company put out a bogus story based on bogus documents .... and the people who take it on are distracting us from talking about the "real" issues?
Want some cheese with that whine?
This story's in the press because Rather let his own animosity for GWB & the Bush family overcome - no, overwhelm - any journalistic standards he might possess. Simply put, Rather ignored Red Flags the size of Texas & went with the story because he 'knows' it's true - evidence or no evidence.
Rather used CBS News to smear a politician he detests. He's forfeited any claim to respect and he's made himself an adjunct of the DNC.posted by: BD on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
"they will report anything someone says as long as it sounds important"
This was proven when 60 Minutes did that big Swift Boats story a few weeks ago........d'oh.
Or maybe the problem with the Swift Boat Vets is that it was too well sourced: 1 trumps 50 in the bizzaro world of the MSM.posted by: Matthew Ryan on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
This was proven when 60 Minutes did that big Swift Boats story a few weeks ago
It always amazes me how you guys can turn examples that should work against you into examples that allegedly prove your point.
The swift boats story was all over the "MSM". It was reported, again and again and again, in the typical "he said, she said" fashion. Very few media outlets took a stance and did serious investigative reporting or fact-checking (the New York Times did on this one - I could barely believe my eyes when I read it).
"My one and only political response to all of this stuff is very simple: does anyone seriously believe that this election should be decided by what either candidate did more than thirty years ago?"
No offense Dan, but these bogus memos weren't forged thirty years ago. And a major news network didn't ignore the advice of its own experts and put these bogus memos in the public eye thirty years ago.
You're absolutely right, what Bush and Kerry did 30 years ago should be absolutely irrelevant. But the fact that someone would forge documents in an attempt to impact a presidential election, and that a major news network would happily play along, *is* relevant.
So feel free to ignore this issue and please continue to write posts about outsourcing, Jagdish Bhagwati, and trade policy that the vast majority of the electorate doesn't care about -- whatever helps you enjoy your hobby.posted by: DRB on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
DRB, I'm sure you are equally outraged by the anti-Kerry lies and distortions, which also weren't produced 30 years ago, but are still being produced every day.
And they come directly from Bush himself - and also from Cheney and other top-level Republicans, not from some anonymous source that conned 60 Minutes and Dan Rather into making a fool of themselves.
Yes, I'm sure you must be outraged.
Maybe the heart of the matter is not the lies--yeah, both sides are hard at it--but the competence of the liars.
This Rathergate story is appalling because the forgery was so revoltingly stupid. It's like when your kid says he didn't eat the cookies, and you have to not laugh (that would be encouraging him) while you point out that his shirt is covered with crumbs.
We can put it another way. Which guy would you rather face down across a poker table? I thought so.
And don't get all huffy at me, either. All leaders lie. It's part of the job. You'd better hope he can pull it off too.posted by: Kelli on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Count me as one reader absolutely delighted that Dan does not cover these stories. If I want to read about them, I can do so elsewhere.
Tomposted by: Tom on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
I expect politicians and their interest groups to sling mud at their political opponents.
I do not expect the news media to do so.posted by: DRB on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Kelli: We can put it another way. Which guy would you rather face down across a poker table? I thought so.
Not so fast. I assume you are asking whether I'd rather play poker with Bush or Kerry? With Kerry, of course, because I don't think I could stand being in a room with Bush.
But your real suggestion appears to be - unless I completely misunderstood you, which is quite possible - that Bush is metaphorically the "better poker player". That's interesting. I thought he was such a straight-shooter, "you always know what I say is what I mean" kinda guy? No?
DRB: If you don't want the media to sling mud at one side or the other, you might want to alert the "fair and balanced" guys to your request. Also, all media outlets would pretty much have to stop reporting what the Bush campaign is saying because it's mostly mud and lies.
The concept to abuse the media to do the mud slinging for you (in the form of press releases) is quite ingenious, though, and the Bush campaign is indeed very good at it.
Apart from all that your point is completely moot anyway, since Dan Rather didn't type those memos himself. He, just like the "fair and balanced" guys, was also "just reporting" what he had been told, i.e. that those memos were real. The main difference was that some people actually cared to expose the underlying lie in this case.
You seem to be under the impression that I am a Republican, a Fox News watcher, and a die-hard Bush supporter. You would be wrong on all three counts. Please save your ranting at everything right-wing and conservative for someone else.
Rather did not type the memos himself. He did ignore the cautions of experts that the documents looked fishy in his desire to have a "breaking expose" of a major political figure. Is this because he hates Bush and wants to destroy him? I doubt it, although I think it's safe to say he's not a Bush fan.
No, this is a story about the Watergate mentality of the press -- the mentality that says the press should be "the watchdog", the "Fourth Estate", and that bringing down politicians will get you a Pulitzer Prize. Unfortunately, that mentality has taken hold so strongly that almost every reporter everywhere in the country tries to turn even the most routine story into a scandalous expose that will "shock the nation and shake it to its very foundations."
All of which is total BS and a disservice to the public. The media is not supposed to be "the watchdog." They're not supposed to bring down politicians, who were democratically elected by the American people. The media is supposed to report the news. What we've seen with Rathergate is an attempt to manufacture the news rather than report it. The sad thing is that Rathergate, while being a very blatant example of this mentality, is not by any means an isolated event.
Well, now it's time for heads to roll -- Rather and his producers should get canned. Hopefully that will shake up the rest of the media and help them realize that their repeated viewing of "All the President's Men" has driven them as a group into a paranoid, megalomaniacal place that bears little resemblance to reality.posted by: DRB on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Dan - You need to post an update... that TNR piece is as bogus as CBS'... perhaps even more so. There is no evidence Fox ever presented the photos as fake as bloggers Stuart Buck and Brian Carnell has shown. Don't these people at TNR have Lexis-Nexis? Don't you think they would check stories after Glass and now Rather, especially since that was the topic of the piece? Please correct (as TNR apparently won't).posted by: HH on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
Dan - You need to post an update... that TNR piece is as bogus as CBS'... perhaps even more so. There is no evidence Fox ever presented the photos as real as bloggers Stuart Buck and Brian Carnell has shown. Don't these people at TNR have Lexis-Nexis? Don't you think they would check stories after Glass and now Rather, especially since that was the topic of the piece? Please correct (as TNR apparently won't).posted by: HH on 09.15.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]
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