Politlcal bloggers, trust, and “news”

The following post on today’s Daily Kos calls for some additional reaction, I think…

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/7/29/888579/-Breitbart-was-the-problem,-not-bloggers?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+dailykos%2Findex+%28Daily+Kos%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Apparently, a couple of genius anchors at CNN are blaming open access to the internet for the Shirley Sherrod “incident” rather than asserting (correctly) that Andrew Breitbart is a lying scumbag, and worse failing to recognize their own complicity in creating the scandal because they (and Fox, and MSNBC, and all the rest of them) didn’t bother to do any verification or fact-checking before they ran the story.

The Daily Kos post handles the first half of that well, reminding readers that Breitbart’s ill intentions don’t mean the internet is bad.  But Kos doesn’t address the other half of the problem, which is the reckless way that the MSM took up the story without finding out ANYTHING about it.  I’m appalled but not surprised (one of the lingering effects of the GWBush administration is that those emotions are permanently detached in my psyche) that CNN wouldn’t even stop to consider that maybe they made the mistake here–not just taking Breitbart seriously enough to pick up the story, but–up against his history of fabrication and manipulation–running it without taking ANY responsibility for its accuracy.

Or put more directly, “the most trusted name in news” lost any trust I might have had when two of its spokespeople so utterly and completely misrepresented their own culpability in the damage done to Shirley Sherrod, the administration, the NAACP, and so on.  That’s not to say none of those groups (except Sherrod, who I find pretty much blameless throughout) have made mistakes of their own.  But notice that even Tom Vilsack and the Obama administration aren’t blaming “the blogosphere” for what happened; they realized they screwed up, and owned up to it.

Keep in mind one important factor here.  The NEWS outlets are the only group involved in this situation who willingly take on the charge of accuracy in reporting.  Sure, the NAACP overreacted and “got snookered” (to use their term).  Sure Vilsack (with or without the administration’s urging) flipped out in fear that the administration was going to be pilloried by Fox and their friends.  But for CNN’s claim to be “most trusted” is based on THEIR OWN claim that they actually do the work of investigating, checking, and verifying stories before they run them.  What else would “trust” be based on?  Who cares if they report everything first if it’s wrong?  Who cares what anonymous sources come to them when those sources aren’t telling anything resembling the truth?

We expect NEWS to be verified, and CNN is quite simply avoiding their own culpability by pretending that this was anybody’s fault but their own.

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