I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Monday, August 20, 2007

How Bloggers Shoot Themselves in the Foot (Pt. 3,282)

One of the favorite pastimes of far too many bloggers is complaining about the MSM and how they fail to either maintain a neutral, unbiased stance on the news and/or improperly fact check their stories. In fact, to hear some bloggers talk, you would think that media news would be in far better shape today if they simply let the bloggers take over the job. That's why it was with great interest that I noted this piece at Joe Gandelman's site today. In it, he discusses and links to an interview landed by a blogger (one John Hawkins of Right Wing News) with Bob Novak regarding his new book.
TMV applauds weblogs of all kinds that do original reporting since the blog technology is only being used partially by most sites. Weblogs can be more than op-ed pages: they can contain original interviews as well.

Right Wing News’ John Hawkins has an interview that is peppered with tons of statements that could generate news and/or blog discussion: an interview with controversial writer and columnist Bob Novak.

Now, in general terms I tend to agree with Joe on this. While the audience of even the most popular blogger is minuscule compared to CNN and their ilk, blogs *could* be used as more than personal op-ed pages. And if it was done well - meeting normal professional standards and delivering content of substance and value - the whole world of blogging and its public perception could be vastly changed for the better. Sadly, however, this is rarely the case.

We've seen this happen before. Back in 2006 I told you about a once in a lifetime opportunity for a blogger. Bob Geiger, one of the most shrill, partisan voices on the far left, landed the opportunity to interview incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. What followed was nothing short of an embarrassing case of a star-struck fanboy performing the virtual blogging equivalent of fellatio on Reid. A rare opportunity to put the tough questions to Reid (which much of the MSM was also failing to do) on the eve of the transfer of power was lost.

Following in that proud tradition, on a somewhat less stellar subject, Hawkins doesn't fail to disappoint. Say what you will about Novak, he's been on the inside of the Beltway circuit since news was still delivered by carrier pigeon. He's seen a lot and I'm sure he has a lot of stories to tell on both sides of the aisle. But instead, I'll treat you to my interpretation of what we got from the Hawkins interview:

John Hawkins: So, Mr. Novak, based on your many years of experience, what are some of the really sucky things about the Democratic party?

Bob Novak: Blah blah blah Kennedy blah blah blah Clinton blah blah.

JH: Oh, really? That's fascinating. Tell me, what other scandalous, illegal, traitorous things do Democrats tend to do?

BN: Blah blah blah Carter blah blah blah Clinton blah blah.

JH: I see. Well, I read your book from cover to cover (and I've plum run out of Vaseline!) and I've got to say... gosh you're swell!

BN: Blah blah blah Kennedy blah blah blah Clinton blah blah.

Think I'm exaggerating? Take a look at the following, which is an unedited, exact quote from the interview:
John Hawkins: Do you think that Carter's frequent lying and the fact that he seemed to get away with it, helped influence Bill Clinton to lie so often when he was President?

Robert Novak: Well, I think Bill Clinton was a minor league liar compared to Jimmy Carter. Carter would just lie for the sake of lying. He was absolutely incredible.

Hawkins did slip up on one occasion and ask Novak what he thought of blogging in general. In a rare moment of candor, Bob fired back with an almost casual dismissal of anything positive regarding the blogosphere. (Ironically making exactly the point I'm discussing in this post.)
John Hawkins: Speaking of people on the internet, journalism has obviously changed a lot over the years, in part because of blogging. What do you think of blogging in general and do you think it has had a positive or negative impact on the news business?

Robert Novak: I think it had a hugely negative impact for several reasons. A lot of the bloggers just put out whatever comes to their mind.

You can read it and judge for yourself, but this total lack of substance is exactly what I believe will continue to keep bloggers from being taken seriously as anything other than highly partisan, irresponsible op-ed fliers in the minds of most American readers.

Politicians have found a definite use for bloggers in that they know they are talking to the basest of the base and it's a convenient place to toss out red meat without having to worry about the repercussions of doing so in the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post or on CNN Headline News. They can spread talking points at no cost in a completely friendly environment. How far they actually disperse is of no consequence since the investment on their part is virtually Nil.

While it's probably a futile hope, I continue to wait for the day when "citizen's media" can rise to the level of gaining such high profile opportunities and actually put them to use in a way that will elevate both the national political discourse and the public's perception and acceptance of blogging.

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