2004-09-25

Die Blogger und der CBS-Fall

--- Die US Today widmet sich Bloggern in Zusammenhang mit der Aufdeckung gef�lschter Dokumente, die der Fernsehsender gegen Bushs Dienst bei der National Guard pr�sentierte: TV networks, newspapers and other �old media� now know there's a vigilant pack of watchdogs who can rip holes in stories any time of day or night. They're people who know a lot about, or have strong opinions about, thousands of sometimes arcane topics. And they're sharing that information on the Internet 24 hours a day. Some are Internet �bloggers,� who may or may not have expertise and may have biases � but who provide forums for debate. Others are people with a passion for particular topics, such as Jim Forbes, curator of an Internet site devoted to IBM Selectric typewriters, www.selectric.org, which has caught attention in recent weeks. All came together to expose problems with memos critical of President Bush's National Guard service. Their role in discrediting the story has made clear they can't be ignored by other media, say journalists and Web experts. In the case of the Guard documents, the questioning was led by sites such as powerlineblog.com and rathergate.com and by a writer known as �Buckhead.� The writer questioned the memos' authenticity on freerepublic.com within a few hours of the Sept. 8 60 Minutes broadcast in which they first appeared. Buckhead has been identified in several media as conservative Atlanta lawyer Harry MacDougald. Reached Tuesday, MacDougald would �neither confirm nor deny� he is Buckhead. �There's no question we all have to take them seriously,� says Terence Smith, media correspondent and senior producer at PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. �They do provide, at least potentially, a useful fact-checking function. � After all, there's an expert out there on everything.� For the old media, �this must have been what it was like for the Catholic Church when movable type was invented,� says Jack Shafer, who writes a media column called �Press Box� for the online magazine Slate. �Until then, the church controlled who would be the scribes.� In the case of the alleged Texas Air National Guard documents, Buckhead and others pointed to many clues indicating the documents may have been produced by a modern computer, not an early '70s typewriter, as would have had to be the case if they are authentic. CBS initially defended its work. One network executive, Jonathan Klein, referred to bloggers as loners who sit home alone in pajamas and spin fantastic tales. In fact, Web sites run by single individuals and bloggers are frequently wrong because they so often are just bulletin boards for rumors and gossip, Internet experts say. But most bloggers also tend to correct their mistakes quickly.