Friday, January 19, 2007

Swamp Things

Just to clarify something while Atrios rides the Mystery Train. I wasn't snarking below when I offered kudos to Karen Tumulty for this post on the Time blog, where she reports that a GOP aide offered her "false spin" that was quickly contradicted by reality.

This is the sort of reporting that might actually justify the existence of a blog run by a major news organization. In a straight news story you rarely see a sentence like "a top GOP aide told this reporter something that turned out to be a big fat whopper." One of the most serious complaints that we incivil Angry Liberal Bloggers have with "straight" news reporting is that its very format seems to oblige journalists to be objective by reporting "both sides," where one side is the truth and the other is, well, "false spin."

On a blog, while of course standards should still apply, there could be less pressure of this sort. I think it's news, or should be news, when a confidential source tells a fib to a reporter in an attempt to game public perception. But I can also see why "political operative tells fib!" might not be exactly headline news. But on a blog, well, the reporter can perhaps have a bit more leeway to make such "false spinning" public.

So I'm glad that Tumulty broke what many of us suspect is a kind of bogus journalistic omerta, the fear that what we're reading is just so much hooey because the reporter is too timid to call BS on something she or he must know perfectly well is a bunch of crap.

Anyhow. What we don't need from blogs like Swampland is another place for more gasbag punditry (*cough* Klein) or vapid insider snark. There are plenty of other outlets for that sort of stuff, thankyouverymuch.

Though I would like to know a few things from Tumulty: what do you do when your source gives you BS, or just spin? Don't readers have the right to know that someone tried to pull one over on you, because ultimately that means they were trying to pull one over on your readers? And why should someone who fibbed to you deserve your protection of their anonymity?

Mysteries of the Universe...