Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Constitutionally incapable"

Another Rick Perlstein gem in the New Republic. Hat tip to Yglesias.

Perlstein is praising the blogosphere for doing a better job than the establishment press in a couple of recent instances. What Firedoglake is doing with its wall-to-wall blogging of the Scooter Libby trial is really quite remarkable.

"We've been beating them," Wheeler notes of The Last Hurrah's coverage of the CIA leak scandal. "The New York Times can't cover the story. They're constitutionally incapable."

She puts it even more bluntly in her book: "[T]he CIA leak case is a story about how our elected representatives exploited the weakness of our media." Part of that weakness was their overweening self-regard. At first, in the eighteenth century, when an anonymous writer launched charges against "gentlemen"--quite often in the rudest language imaginable--it was a scandal "in a social order of deference," Warner writes in Letters of the Republic. But, by striking down deference, pseudonyms forced arguments to be stronger; Warner even argues that the anonymous culture of print is what made republican consciousness possible. Like "jjcomet," "dmbeaster," and "Newton Minnow," our Founding Fathers only had only their words to rely on for their authority. Every day, I find faceless netroots citizens reprising their wisdom, as against gentlemen and gentleladies of the press who sometimes seem more interested saving face than doing sound work.

And the account of Jay Carney being spanked by blog commenters--well, this kind of thing is a familiar story by now. Ezra Klein and Oliver Willis laid a drubbing on David Broder yesterday for his account of Wesley Clark speaking at the recent DNC meeting. I was taken slightly aback at Willis calling Broder a liar, I wouldn't go quite so far, but Broder is just so damn insistent to have things fit into his preconceived narrative. Jay Carney, the same thing. Like Orwell wrote, it takes a lot of effort just to state accurately what is in front of your face.

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