Saturday, February 26, 2005

No Surprise

Jeffrey Dubner at TAPPED wonders why the SCLM is silent on Gannon/Guckert:

Eric Boehlert dresses down the major media outlets that have ignored the Jeff Gannon story. But here are a few more journalism heavyweights who have hardly touched it:

The New Republic (no coverage)
The Washington Monthly (two posts) (one post)
The Nation (two posts)
Mother Jones (nothing outside of its discussion groups)

Am I forgetting any? Oh, right:

The American Prospect (one post waaaaay back when this all started in January)

I count six leading liberal publications (indulge me for the moment with the “liberal” classification, Slate) and six blog posts, three of which are dismissive of the scandal. And not a single bona fide article. (The clear exception is Salon, which was to some degree born of full-throated, bare-knuckled online scandal wars and has always acknowledged their importance.)

This raises two points. One, that the mainstream media may be overlooking Gannongate because the established segment of the left-wing echo chamber is as well. Look, after all, at “Easongate” and “Rathergate;” how much were they propelled by independent bloggers and how much by The National Review? Having asked the question, though, I don’t think it’s really important; the size and volume of the right-wing echo chamber is just so much greater than the left-wing equivalent that we always have less sway.

But the other question is, why the silence from the actual liberal media, such as it is? The shame gap has been suggested, but I don’t think that entirely explains it. I’d call the expendable resources gap just as big a factor. Partisan conservatives can assume that the country is being run in accordance with their wishes, freeing them up to focus on comments by piddlers like Ward Churchill. Liberals — partisan or non- — have a democracy to preserve, Social Security to save, momentous scandals to unravel, and so on. Add to that the fact that many conservatives think government is of limited usefulness in the first place, and thus don’t care about many of its functions, and you get wildly different loci of attention.

I agree that the SCLM has been woefully silent on the Gannon/Guckert story. All this proves is that the SCLM is convinced that Gannon/Guckert isn’t a real story like the Social Security debate, Iraq, and a certain legal issue being dealt with in California. How they got lulled into this is anybody’s guess, right? No, it’s not. They’ve bought into the White House line of what’s news, and this story of a gay prostitute with an alias writing cut-and-paste stories for an on-line house organ of the RNC is clearly not news to them. Maybe they’d like some cookies to go along with the Kool-Aid.

But if you look at the blogosphere, it’s alive and well, and while Salon and Slate and all the other big dogs of on-line journalism have been ignoring it, blogs like AMERICAblog, Atrios, and Daily Kos have been digging into it and making the revelations that garnered the slight attention it’s received in the mainstream. It did make the tailpiece (no pun intended) on the NBC Nightly News on February 17th, and Howard Kurtz gave it his usual drivelly spin on Reliable Sources. Meanwhile, the blogosphere has kept the noise going, including Bark Bark Woof Woof to name one I can think of as well as just about everyone else in The Liberal Coalition. Bill Maher wove it through his opening act on Real Time. So while it may not immediately be catching up with the Dead Tree Society, it’s become the buzz on the blogs, and both the left and the right have the hides on the wall to prove that that is something you ignore at your peril. As much as we would love to really know who passed Gannon/Guckert into the White House and make as big a stink out of it as Drudge did with the White House travel office and a $100,000 real estate deal, this may have to evolve at it own pace. And when it does… well, let’s ask Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott what can happen.