When Blogs Get it Wrong

Hugh Hewitt is obnoxious in his defense of blogs in  this interview with WSJ scribe Joseph Rago, who criticized blogs in a column last week  for, among other things, their "minimal reportage." It's hard to see how one could disagree with Rago on this point. Yes, there are instances in which bloggers do what would be considered reporting, but an overwhelming majority of blog posts are based on linking to a MSM story and commenting on it. This fact doesn't stop Hewitt from cross examining Rago with such sanctimonious questions as:

HH: Well, thus far, I’ve identified the NSA story as being representative of the mainstream media, and Porkbusters and coverage of Supreme Court justices as being representative of new media, and I think new media is winning that run down. Do you want to put forwardâ€_other than Katrina, although I’m not sure you’d want to put forward Katrina, any major story on which the mainstream media has dominated in terms of reporting and analysis over the blogosphere?

This is an absurd on Hewitt's part. You never hear the end of it when bloggers get something right, but when they get something wrong, everybody forgets. Last year, an Oklahoma University student  committed suicide by blowing himself up near a football stadium. The  blogs  lit up with outrage over the MSM  largely ignoring  a story that  to bloggers looked like an attempted terrorist attack.  Michelle Malkin was all over the story, Mark Tapscott tied the incident with a threat on the NYC subways around the same time and speculated that  the two may be linked as part of a "Ramadan Offensive." The  blogs got almost every aspect of the story wrong, even falsely claiming that the student was a Muslim. The WSJ later debunked  many of the theories floating around the blogs.    

That's just one example, which I offer not to discredit all bloggers, but to respond to the arrogance of Hewitt. The informal nature of blogs, the speed of the medium, and the limitless space allows bloggers to brainstorm, debate ideas, throw out theories, get feedback and make use of all the arcane specialized knowledge they may have. On the whole, this is a good thing. However, at the same time, the MSM, which has the ability and resources to do more hands on reporting, and which acts as a filter, deserves respect as well. Obviously, I blog myself and find blogs useful, but I also think some  bloggers, ironically,  have developed  the same  sense of elitism and self importance that they deride the MSM for.

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More on the Pardon

The former Watergate prosecutor gives Ford a mixed grade for the pardon:

While I do not believe Ford was wrong to pardon Nixon, the timing of the pardon was premature and may have cost Ford the margin of victory in the 1976 election. Had Ford kept to his original plan and allowed time for formal charges to be lodged against Nixon, spelling out the specifics of his culpability, it would have been up to Nixon to either accept the pardon or fight the charges in court. But pardoning Nixon without requiring at least an acknowledgment of responsibility for serious misconduct and for lying to the public left the door open for the spate of revisionist books and articles that followed the resignation.

The question is whether, knowing that he was going to pardon Nixon anyway, it was better for Ford to act sooner to expedite the healing process.

Meanwhile, Bob Woodward, reports in today’s Washington Post that Ford’s personal friendship with Nixon played a role in the pardon:

“I think that Nixon felt I was about the only person he could really trust on the Hill,” Ford said during the 2005 interview.

Ford returned the feeling.

“I looked upon him as my personal friend. And I always treasured our relationship. And I had no hesitancy about granting the pardon, because I felt that we had this relationship and that I didn’t want to see my real friend have the stigma,” Ford said in the interview.

Two Americas, Take Two

In 2004, John Edwards ran an unsuccessful campaign for the presidency that tried to convince Americans that wealth and work were antonyms. Yesterday, the former North Carolina senator launched another bid for the nation’s highest office, paying homage to the past while presenting a refurbished set of incoherent ideas.

Wearing jeans and an open-collared blue shirt, Edwards made the announcement in the backyard of a vacant house in a Katrina-ravaged section of New Orleans, a setting he chose because it “shows the two Americas that I have talked about in the past.” But this isn’t the past, and Edwards has learned a lot since his failed presidential and vice-presidential bids of 2004. “It’s great to see a problem, and to understand it. It’s more important to take action to do something about it.” He describes his candidacy as a kind of call to arms for people to volunteer to help their communities and “to be patriotic about something beyond war.”

What’s ironic is that in his speech Edwards unintentionally made a strong case for small-government conservatism even though his prescription for the nation is big government liberalism.

Conservatives have long argued that private charities are more effective at dealing with poverty than government bureaucrats. Edwards said yesterday that federal money allocated to Hurricane Katrina relief hasn’t reached those in need, and explained that “you walk around in these neighborhoods, and what you’ll hear is that most of the good that has been done in New Orleans has been done by faith-based groups, charitable groups, and volunteers.”

In an unorthodox statement for someone announcing a run for the White House, he said that “if we wait for the next election and we stand by and hope that the next person that’s elected president is going to solve all our problems for us, we are living in a fantasy world.”

It may be “fantasy world” to expect the president to solve people’s problems, but somehow that didn’t stop Edwards from rolling out a list of campaign promises that includes “providing universal healthcare to all Americans,” “solving global warming,” and “eliminating poverty.”

When asked by a reporter about his lack of foreign policy experience, Edwards responded that experience was overrated. “We’ve had one of the most experienced foreign policy teams in American history. Rumsfeld. Cheney. They’ve been an absolute disaster by any measure.”

Edwards mentioned the genocide in Sudan, the North Korean and Iranian nuclear threats, and the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict among the crises that the United States needs to lead on, but doesn’t have the moral standing in the world to do so.

While he tried to establish himself as knowledgeable about foreign affairs, the more he spoke the more he revealed his own ignorance. He said that “China’s economic and military power is growing every single day, with very little being done about it by the United States of America,” with the obvious implication that something should be done. But in answer to the same question, he added that “America needs to be able to engage and bring the rest of the world with us to deal with those crises. Instead, we encounter resistance when we go to the Security Council on all of these issues.”

Anybody with even a limited understanding of foreign affairs knows that the primary source of “resistance” on the Security Council is China. Only in Edwardsville can America expect to impede the economic and military progress of China while winning China’s support at the United Nations for policies it opposes.

While, on its merits, an Edwards candidacy should be considered dead on arrival, some have argued that his name recognition, strong showing in Iowa in 2004, and likely union support give him a chance to win the Democratic nomination. However, should Barack Obama enter the race, as is now widely expected, it’s difficult to see how Edwards can compete.

While Edwards attracted attention in 2004 for his sunny optimism and personal charm, Obama will be the fresh face this time around. Obama will eat into Edwards’ support among black voters, the predominant group in the very neighborhood of New Orleans that Edwards chose as the site to announce his candidacy. While Edwards has disavowed his vote for the Iraq War, Obama opposed the war all along. And with just one term in the Senate, it will be hard for Edwards to make the case that he’s any more qualified than Obama.

If Edwards wants to be president, he better try running in the other America.

Edwards, Part Deux

John Edwards made it official today with his speech in the Ninth Ward announcing his candidacy. Edwards will probably be able to count on strong union support, and he’s polling well in Iowa, where he had a surprisingly strong second place finish in 2004. But with unemployment at 4.5 percent, it’s hard to see his “two Americas” speech gaining much traction. That isn’t to say poverty doesn’t exist or that income inequality isn’t a concern for any Americans, it just isn’t a primary concern for enough Americans to make it the basis for a presidential run.

Re: Edwards is In

At least Edwards didn’t goof the announcement as badly as Hillary’s one-time opponent in the NY Senate race, Jeanine Pirro:

Pirro’s weaknesses were also on display…Halfway through her announcement, she began a sentence with disgust — “Hillary Clinton” — and then stopped dead for several seconds and looked pained. “I’m sorry. Could I have Page 10?” she whispered.

Ford vs. New York

Editor & Publisher tells the story behind one of the most famous headlines in newspaper history: FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD. The best part:

In contrast, the corresponding hed in The New York Times that day was: “FORD, CASTIGATING CITY, ASSERTS HE’D VETO FUND GUARANTEE; OFFERS BANKRUPTCY BILL.”

Ford 66, Bush 1

One of them may have been elected twice, while the other was never elected and held the office for just 896 days, but if there’s one area where President Bush lags President Ford, it’s in the use of the veto. From the NY Times obit:

[Ford] vigorously tried to control federal spending with vetoes of spending bills, starting his first week in office.

Ford exercised his veto power a total of 66 times, with 12 being overridden. President Bush is now 65 vetoes behind Ford, but the new Democratic Congress will offer him ample oppoutunities to catch up.

OMB

No, not Office of Management and Budget: Obama Media Bias, creeping into this AP story about Sen. Joe Biden’s presidential aspirations:

First elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 30, Biden is a career politician in an era where many voters seem to be craving something fresh.