Bloggers bad, secrets good
Tuesday, November 9th, 2004
In trying to diagnose what went awry on Election Day, many of bloggers’ critics seemed to be saying the Internet was at it again, and this time that creepy cesspool of comic-book geeks and pornographers was spitting out bad election data. But it’s not as if Matt Drudge and Ana Marie Cox were making up numbers while sitting at home in their PJs. The numbers they and other bloggers posted came from the National Election Pool, an organization owned by the big networks and the Associated Press. NEP’s numbers go to those outfits and to other media organizations that pay boatloads of money to get a peek. The numbers weren’t some Internet invention, but data generated at the request of the mainstream media.
And it wasn’t just wild-eyed bloggers who saw them and believed them, with or without the necessary caveats. The joy on James Carville’s face was obvious — and according to numerous reports, so was the gloom in President Bush’s camp. The problem is that those numbers were terribly misleading, not that bloggers had them. And yet, somehow, we find ourselves in a referendum on blogs. If talk-show hosts had been reading the exit-poll numbers into their mikes, would we be knee-deep in worries about this crazy new technology called radio?