It probably began with Trent Lott; it picked up steam with Rathergate; now the Eason Jordan saga has moved it beyond the realm of the disputable. "It" is the power of blogs to influence events on a national and international scale. The idea that blogs can force a new level of accountability on those previously considered 'untouchable' is not new; many have commented eloquently and at length. I find Easongate unique in one revolutionary respect: this time, the MSM never even got off the sidelines.
When Dan Rather's document hoax broke, as in the Trent Lott remarks, the event did stay in the blogosphere for a time, but it was only when the public and media at large grew aware that action was taken. With Easongate, only the faintest of ripples had hit the mainstream; a handful of stories, yes, but certainly no national awareness to speak of outside of the blogging and media communities. CNN still doesn't have the story on their front page as I write this, nor does MSNBC. The New York Times does, in a sidebar; but what did you hear from the Times prior to today?
No, this one is different. This time it was the bloggers, and the bloggers alone, that pushed this man out. That will be heady stuff for some; it will scare the pants off of others...but what does it mean, really? Have we entered an era where our lives can be destroyed by a pack of wolves hacking at their keyboards with no oversight, no editors, and no accountability? Or does it mean that we've entered a brave new world where the MSM has become irrelevant?
I would argue that neither of those extremes is the case. What has been shown, though, is that the mass media, mainstream media, MSM, whatever you want to call it, is being held to account as never before by the strong force of individual citizens who won't settle for sloppy research and inflammatory comments without foundation, particularly from those with a wide national reach, such as Rather and Eason. If you are going to slander our troops or our president, you better have the goods...and I don't think that will just apply to liberal voices. Eason Jordan says he is quitting to avoid being 'unfairly tarnished' by the controversy, but it was precisely because he himself unfairly tarnished our fighting men and women, in a very public setting, that he no longer counts himself among the employed.
I don't think we need to wring our hands over this, nor celebrate too loudly, though on the whole, it is a good, democratic development. Nor do I believe that the same results would take place if the controversy doesn't have merit; after all, the 'progressive' side of the blogosphere would have you believe that George Bush is a cocaine-snorting fascist who has stolen two elections, but because the public at large (i.e., 'Jesusland') knows these accusations are without merit, you haven't seen the snowball effect that Rathergate and Easongate displayed. Much will be said and written on these topics over the next few days; for now, it will suffice to say that this is a significant day in the short history of blogs.
UPDATE 10:59 pm central: Very much to my delight, some blogging heavyweights have been gracious enough to link to this post - so a big thank you to Michelle Malkin, Ed Driscoll, Jim Geraghty, and Jeff Jarvis, and a big welcome to any new readers, as well. I hope you'll sit back, relax, and stay awhile. Have a great weekend, everyone!
UPDATE 2 02/12/05 11:02 am central: Wow, now Lorie Byrd at PoliPundit has been kind enough to reference this post, as well; many thanks! To any and all newcomers, browse around, leave some comments, whatever floats your boat - good to have you here. Hope you're having an agreeable Saturday.