Hysteria mounts among elderly publishers!!!
Friday, November 12th, 2004
Check out the hysterical journalese in today’s NYTimes front page story about blogger analysis of election fraud theories: “all the twitchy cloak-and-dagger thrust of a Hollywood blockbuster” … “an online market of dark ideas” … “the swift propagation of faulty analyses”… “ground zero in the online rumor mill” … “a breathless cycle of hey-check-this-out”… “a round of Web log hysteria”… “second-guessing… has largely characterized the blog-to-e-mail-to-blog continuum. Some election officials have become frustrated by the rumor mill” … “the online fact-finding machine has come unmoored” … “‘a snowball of hearsay.'”
Gee, the only semantic tar missing are “Satanism” or “fundamentalism.” Note that only the last of those wonderful nuggets of purple prose was actually generated by someone other than a journalist, the blogger’s erstwhile competitor for public mind-share.
Of course, the whole process may have been positive, the Times admits. “While the widely read universe of Web logs was often blamed for the swift propagation of faulty analyses, the blogosphere, as it has come to be known, spread the rumors so fast that experts were soon able to debunk them, rather than allowing them to linger and feed conspiracy theories.”
And of course, the story is “balanced” with a quote from John Byrne of BlueLemur saying, “Of course you can say blogs are wrong. Blogs are wrong all the time.”
I’ve got some questions.
1) Has the Times yet covered this debate, which prompted a letter by three congressmen to the GAO last Friday? No, at least not if my search of the Times archive is accurate. If this is something experts have been debating, is this article about bad bloggers just a lame way to back into the story?
2) Since the main point of the story seems to be that “blogs are baaaaad; oh, and by the way, they’ve unearthed something interesting we haven’t covered yet,” there’s some vital context missing. For example, why aren’t readers reminded that that the same new “hysterical rumor-mill marketting dark ideas in a breathless cycle of hey-check-this-out building a snow-ball of hearsay” has, in the last year, discredited the likes of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, editor of the NYTimes Howell Raines and CBS anchorman Dan Rather?
Anyone for some wild and unsubstantiated theorizing about that omission should start a blog or post a comment here…