Another Time Writer Wrong About Bloggers

And it’s about something much more important than my little ego: the US attorney scandal, initially dismissed by Time‘s Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Jay Carney:

Some bloggers just don’t understand how journalism works. Back in mid-January TPM Muckraker an offshoot of Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo began writing that U. S. attorneys were being fired by the Bush Administration and tried to make a big deal out of it. Although most journalists paid no attention to the hysteria the bloggers were trying to whip up about what Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez would later call an “overblown personnel matter,” Time magazine’s Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Jay Carney took time out of his busy day to patiently mock Marshall.

“Of course! It all makes perfect conspiratorial sense!” Carney wrote. “Except for one thing: in this case some liberals are seeing broad partisan conspiracies where none likely exist.” Though Carney admitted, “It’s all very suspicious sounding,” he pointed out that Marshall had no proof. Marshall was basing his claims on the complaints of one disgruntled district attorney, Carol Lam, who claimed her firing jeopardized investigations into the Duke Cunningham scandal, and the vague charges of Senator Dianne Feinstein who is clearly a partisan. Besides nothing about the story had appeared in the Drudge Report and journalists are bound by the rules of journalistic ethics to ignore rumors unless they appear there first.

Of course, journalists don’t have the time or resources to investigate every suspicious rumor. If they did that, they wouldn’t have time to report the news. And if their confidential sources in the White House thought that journalists were looking into something that might make them look bad, they would stop leaking to journalists, which would make reporting the news impossible.

But Marshall and his reporters, who apparently don’t have anything better to do and may be slightly unstable, kept pushing this story until another U.S. Attorney, David Iglesias, went public with his suspicions about why he was fired. But even then Carney remained steadfast, writing skeptically, “If Iglesias names names, and others tell similar stories, I will take my hat off to Marshall and others in the blogosphere and congratulate them for having been right in their suspicions about this story from the beginning.” Of course, he still wasn’t prepared to waste his valuable time looking into the matter himself and he couldn’t resist getting in a little dig at bloggers, pointing out that “Suspicions aren’t facts,” which bloggers apparently don’t realize because they didn’t go to journalism school.

Uh, yeah, those bloggers — how dare they try to pretend they know anything about investigative reporting?  Carney did finally give a backhanded acknowledgement of Josh Marshall’s superior skills, after the story got so big that the MSM couldn’t keep ignoring it.

Go read the whole thing.  It’s a hoot, in a depressing sort of way.

3 Responses to “Another Time Writer Wrong About Bloggers”

  1. Talking Points Memo is one of my stops during the morning blog survey. (I go in alpha order by URL, so I stop in here first.) As a journalist myself, I can tell you tht what TPM does is true journalism. They investigate, they attribute and they never go to press until they have their facts straight. What’s most impressive about TPM is the utter lack of “he said, she said” stories. Although TPM has a liberal viewpoint, they will go after anyone who’s acting (not rumored) unethically or illegally. See William Jefferson posts. Time is obviously scared of these new journalists, but I, as an old journalist, am thrilled to see this new wave.

  2. Yep.

    I personally love the line about how real journalists don’t have time to investigate every “rumor” because then they wouldn’t have time to report the “news.” …because we need to hear about Britney’s latest meltdown and Anna Nicole’s funeral. After all, looking at a little think like the way people are running our country is insignificant in comparison.

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