Two new words enter the vocabulary: RatherGate and Pajamasphere
“ CBS stonewalls as "guys in pajamas" uncover a fraud. ” John Fund, WSJ
The story in brief: On Sept. 8, Dan Rather and 60 Minutes raised New Questions On Bush Guard Duty, showcasing "newly discovered" memos allegedly typed in 1972 by Col. Jerry Killian (now deceased). Almost instantly, the "Citizen Media" sprang into action, raising typographic, stylistic, and factual questions that cast doubt on the authenticity of the documents. The "Power Line" blog has an initial roundup from Sept. 9. They, Rathergate.com and many other blogs track the latest developments.
In the midst of the fray, former CBS executive vice president Jonathan Klein weighed in:
“ You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at 60 Minutes] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.”
Jonathan Klein couldn't have been more wrong. The Pajamasphere is defined by checks and balances. Bloggers read and reply to other bloggers, bringing diverse political, economic, social and other perspectives to every issue. Beyond providing additional facts, analysis and opinion, bloggers provide links so that readers can learn more and decide for themselves. Readers who don't have blogs can also weigh in, often via comment threads on the blog itself and in any case by emailing the auther.
And, most important of all, blogs serve as an important check on the power of the mainstream media ("MSM"). The evidence brought forth by bloggers is overwhelming here. Not only are the documents fraudulent beyond a reasonable doubt, the problems are so numerous and obvious that CBS, 60 Minutes, and Dan Rather had no business putting them on the air. All should be held liable for violating the trust that many people still have for the mainstream media.
Prior to the Web, ordinary citizens had few effective ways to respond to a newspaper and even fewer of countering the impact of the likes of 60 Minutes. Blogs have helped drive stories before, but Rathergate shows quite clearly the true nature of the "stark contrast" between old media and new.
“ The mainstream media, if the truth be told, to one degree or another, are all CBS. Most of them have relied for years, again to one degree or another, on their position and reputation rather than on genuine fact checking in promulgating their versions of the news. Those days are now over... way over, because, for technological and manpower reasons, as has been demonstrated by the Rather affair, the blogs are better qualified to fact check than the mainstream media ever were. ” Roger L. Simon
“ This incident is a triumph of liberty over power. ... By opening up the lines of communication to nearly everyone, [the Internet] has forced us to rely on actual arguments, facts, history, and evidence precisely because the intensity of competition and the value of reputation is so high. ” Steven Horwitz
“ Blogs haven't toppled old media. The foundations of Old Media were rotten already. The new media came along at the right time. ” James Lileks
When the evidence assembled by the citizen media became too compelling too ignore, the mainstream media joined in. The Washington Post goes into some detail. More recently, ABC News discovered that two document experts hired by CBS warned the network before the segment aired that the documents were highly questionable. If that's true, the stakes are high.
“ Dan Rather was complicit in defrauding the American public in an attempt to defeat a sitting President. Rather must be fired now. Congress should subpoena CBS News' lawyers and all documentation of their advice. ” William J. Dyer
On the lighter side, no discussion of the Pajamasphere would be complete without a little humor!
Scrappleface's press releases, e.g. 1972 Email Casts Doubt on Bush Guard Service.
Cox & Forkum's Editorial Cartoons, e.g. Down From The Mountain.
Day by Day's strip, e.g. Killian's.
The Politburo Diktat discovers Authentic Document Proves Kerry in Cambodia.
... and many more, collected in this Satire Roundup from "It Comes In Pints?".
And, from the left (though I don't mean to imply anything about the politics of the above, as I simply don't know in many cases):
Posted Sept. 17, 2004