"FITZGERALD CALLED. CASE OVER."

That’s the entirety of the BlackBerry message sent by Attorney Robert Luskin to his client Karl Rove yesterday.

Around 4 p.m. on Monday, June 12, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald alerted Mr. Luskin that he had decided not to charge his client with a crime in the ongoing investigation into who leaked the name of C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame.
 
“Obviously, he was happy and relieved,” Mr. Luskin said. “And then the rest of the conversation is personal …. ”

What Luskin isn’t keeping private is his opinion of leftists in the media, and particularly the moonbat side of the blogosphere, who for the last several weeks have drummed up baseless allegations and propagated endless rumors about an imminent indictment of Rove.

“It seems to me that there are lots of constituencies who have treated this as the story too good not to be true,” he said. “And people have all had their own reasons—whether they’re political, whether they have to do with opportunities to put themselves forward personally, whether or not they are motivated by efforts to show up the mainstream media.”
 
The criticism of blogging, in fact, goes right to the story of the White House’s relationship with reporters in the “mainstream media.”
 
“The big criticism of the mainstream media is that they live in this community, they’ve got continuing relationships with their sources and the people they write about, and the blogosphere says that that makes them spineless,” Mr. Luskin said. (Like Judy Miller?) “I think one can make the exact opposite argument, which is that the premise is true but that makes them accountable.”
 
He recalled an episode from last month, when a report on the liberal Web site Truthout.org, written by Jason Leopold and citing “high-level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting,” claimed Mr. Rove would be indicted on charges of perjury and lying to investigators, the results of a marathon session of negotiations in Mr. Luskin’s office that he claims never occurred.

And then Luskin provides this little nugget:

On the one hand, it seems to me that the CBS National Guard stories were the poster child for the principle that sometimes the blogosphere keeps the mainstream media accountable, and it seems to me that this story is, if you will, the poster child for the fact that the blogosphere is itself often not accountable, and that there are a universe of folks out there who have got personal or political agendas who were masquerading as news sources. That is just as destructive in its own way, or more than the mainstream media’s insularity is on the flip side.”

He’s right.

When Truthout.org passed along the rumor of Rove’s imminent indictment, it did so under the guise of a legitimate investigative news report. They used the right words. They used a news-like writing style. They claimed not not one but up to five exclusive sources. They were able to convince a large audience that they had the inside scoop. Nevermind that no one in the MSM was reporting the story. Commenters on Truthout.org’s dismissed the professional media claiming they weren’t reporting because they were either in the pocket of the White House or they were intimidated by the svengali power of Rove himself. Days and weeks later, when deadlines for the indictment announcement came and went, many of Truthout.org’s readers refused to believe they had been duped. Even now, a full day after the announcement that Rove will not be indicted, many on the left still believe he will.

Just like MSM reporters, bloggers need to check facts and figures. We can’t cut corners. If we intend to beat the traditional media and break news stories, we need a double measure of substantiation and multiple named sources. It’s about being credible. More importantly, bloggers must correct themselves immediately when they get the story wrong.

Blog readers have a responsibility too. In a world where an increasing number of people turn their attention from traditional media to the insta-news/commentary of the blogosphere, it’s important to keep a minimum level of perspective. If one blog reports a story, but NO ONE ELSE DOES, be skeptical. In the critical minutes and hours after a major news story breaks and a gang of bloggers conclude a certain outcome, or in the example of Rove, a level of guilt, be skeptical. Readers and bloggers alike must resist the lemming instinct. Deny the urge to mob.

So for now, we’ll look at this episode as yet another milestone in the age of the blogosphere. We’ll learn from it, be strengthened by it, and become better because of it.

Speak Your Mind

*