The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Friday, February 20, 2004

Dan Gillmor, technology columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, got all huffy about the Kerry intern scandal in his blog:

How Sleazy Rumors Reach Critical Mass A Smear's Journey to Page One. At what point does reporting a smear become acceptable? In a news landscape increasingly crowded with competing sources, mainstream news organizations often cross the line to vie with less scrupulous muckrakers for readers' attention.

When someone commented that Kerry scandal was barely mentioned in the media, while barrels of ink have been used to print allegations that Bush dodged National Guard service, Gillmor became a poster child for smug media incuriousness:

Yes, "deserter" was over the top. But I'm not convinced AWOL wasn't an accurate way to describe what Bush did -- and he still hasn't provided persuasive evidence to the contrary.

(It would have taken Gillmor all of 15 minutes to find out that National Guard records are notoriously incomplete, if he had bothered to visit weblogs written by people (Sensing, Cole, Hobbs) whose knowledge of the military is more extensive than that afforded by watching Apocalypse Now. And why does Bush need to prove a negative? Does Kerry need to document where he was sleeping for each night since he married Theresa Heinz?)

Here's another comment:

BTW, the prominence of the sludge-mongers isn't the same thing as journalistic credentials. The Geraldos and Matt Drudges and Rush Limbaughs of the world have their podiums, but little credibility. A friend who used to work for a CBS news organization in the 80's said their standard was "What would Eric [Sevareid] or Walter [Cronkite] do?" Not a bad standard.

Those plucky broadcasters at CBS, trying to maintain media integrity in a sea of sludge! Somebody get me a handkerchief!

Less that 48 hours after this comment was posted, Mickey Kaus reported that "Kerry gets a Mulligan from CBS, whose producer gives him a second chance to nail a too-long sound bite." Was it Cronkite who would have done the same thing, or Savareid?



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