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February 25, 2005

The Counter-Reformation

If Hugh Hewitt is right, and blogging represents the Reformation, then the counter-Reformation can't be far behind.

Today saw the publication of three pieces of literature, ranging from analysis to polemic, that will be brought together in the new storyline of a vast Republican media conspiracy.

First, Anne Lewis at the DSSC seizes on Ken Mehlman of the RNC comment that "we don't have to pay for our grassroots," a reference to the paid help that the Dems' GOTV effort relied on. First on Lewis's list: the South Dakota Alliance, and Jon Lauck. Lauck did indeed receive money from the Thune campaign, disclosed this fact, and went on to cover the campaign and the Argus-Leader's distortions in great depth and with great insight. He had a point of view, he was not a shill. This doesn't prevent Lewis from claiming that he never told anyone about his payment.

Then, Jan Frel at Personal Democracy posts a long piece claiming to uncover the real strategy of the South Dakota Alliance. That strategy was to "get inside the heads" of the Argus-Leader's staff covering the campaign.

Actually, the strategy was to force the A-L to straighten up and fly right, something blogs have been all about for a while now. Dan Gillmor, formerly of the San Jose Mercury News who now blogs about the media, treats this as a startling revelation. But Frel notes that the Alliance made this goal public in a Platform.

Gannon-Guckert also makes an appearance in Frel's article.

And today, Jay Rosen puts the Gannon-Guckert kerfuffle into a larger context, what he sees as the Administration's efforts to discredit the print MSM. Let me be clear: I think Rosen is acting in good faith, and is putting together some pieces that should be aired. Rosen's a smart guy, and should be taken seriously, and argued with seriously. At the same time, this is a storyline that will be quickly twisted into the larger "conservative-media-as-paid-tools" storyline.

That storyline is the counterattack.

It matters not that the South Dakota Alliance, or Powerline, or the Swifties operated from facts. Or that the CBS memos were fake-but-untrue, or that Eason Jordan had a history of questionable statements and ethics, or that (to address Jay Rosen's point) the mainstream press long ago abandoned professionalism for politics.

What matters is that the Administration and the campaign found a way to get around the filter.

It's a political counterattack, not a reasoned one, so it relies on ignoring facts and smearing all opponents with the same brush. The hope is to create an image in the public mind, not to win debating points. It's to change the image of bloggers and those who support them, from public heroes (which was always over-stated, anyway) to being something slightly disreputable, and suspect.

It's part of the game of discrediting conservative journalism, in an attempt to re-establish the MSM as the only source of critical analysis of the administration.

Posted by joshuasharf at February 25, 2005 11:46 AM | TrackBack

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