MSM pushing back against the blogosphere?

Posted by: ST on August 5, 2005 at 10:28 pm

By now most of you are aware of the brewing scandal involving Air America and the allegations that they diverted money meant for inner-city kids and seniors to itself.  For a brief recap before I go on, here’s the gist of the story from the Washington Times:

Did Al Franken’s liberal radio network Air America divert city money for the elderly and inner-city children to itself? That’s the question people should be asking this week after the revelation that the New York Department of Investigation is looking into whether hundreds of thousands of dollars were illegally transferred from a Bronx community center to Air America. Only a community paper and a few Internet bloggers seem interested in what could be an egregious case of illegal funneling of tax dollars to a private, partisan organization. 

In late June, city officials designated the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, a nonprofit organization that runs mentoring programs for children and day care for Alzheimer’s patients, a "non-responsible city contractor." Investigators found "significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various City agencies." The city subsequently suspended the club’s contracts, which run well into the millions.

It turns out, according to sources quoted anonymously by the Bronx News, that the mishandled money went to Air America. One source claims that $480,000 was wrongly transferred. The city investigation is concentrating on Charles Rosen, the club’s president for 15 years, and Evan Cohen, the development director, who is a former chairman of Air America. Mr. Cohen resigned from Air America in May after the network’s leasing plans in Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere fell through.

Seems pretty newsworthy, right?  Wrong.  A Google News search (at the time of this writing) on this story leads to about 5 pages worth of hits, with approximately 95% of them being conservative blogs and/or news and opinion outlets.  The New York Sun has made this story a priority (see here, here, here, and here for more).  The so-called newspaper of record, however – the NYTimes, has not.  As of this writing, a search of "Air America" for the last week on the NYTimes article page search points to exactly zero articles.

What could be the reason for this?  We all know that if this were Rush Limbaugh, we’d be reading about it on the front page for weeks – whether it be about his addiction to painkillers or his ‘controversial remarks’ about Donovan McNabb.  Remember that? The MSM devoted unlimited amounts of ink and webspace to reporting Limbaugh’s comments on McNabb, as if that were the most important issue we were facing at the time.  And on the story regarding his addiction to painkillers, the media still foams at the mouth to give us updates on the latest developments in that case. 

But you’ve hardly heard a sound out of the MSM on the Air America scandal.  Why?  I believe it may have something to do with the MSM pushing back against the blogosphere.  CBS News got their heads handed to them on a silver platter and Dan Rather had to show the proper amount of regret over National Guard documents that were shown on the Sept. 8, 2004 edition of 60 Minutes Wednesday (which incidentally was cancelled less than a year later due to ‘bad ratings’) – documents that were shortly thereafter proved to be unauthenticated thanks to the diligent work of Powerline, Rathergate, and many many others in the blogosphere.  In simple terms, the blogosphere delivered a "smackdown" to CBS News.   Since CBS News is considered part of the big media that so many complain carries an unmistakable liberal bias, the larger point was that the liberal media’s credibility had been dealt a serious blow by citizen journalists across the blogosphere, most of whom had probably never stepped foot inside a newsroom.

As a result of that – while acknowledging that the blogosphere is now a force to be reckoned with – many in the MSM took the opportunity to make known their feelings about bloggers, and they weren’t exactly of the warm and fuzzy variety.  A noteable first among them? Jonathan Klein,  former CBS executive VP who defended Dan Rather and CBS against charges that the National Guard documents were fake.   His now-infamous comments (11/22/04):

 "In contrast to 60 Minutes, bloggers have no checks and balances and you couldn’t, I agree, it’s an important moment because you couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing what he thinks."

It should be noted that Klein is now the president of CNN.

Earlier that same month, former CBS News Washington correspondent Eric Enberg had this to say about blogger coverage of the elections:

Big plans and big claims are to be expected from folks – pajama-clad or not – who are dabbling with new technology and new modalities of public expression. As a retired mainstream media ("MSM") journalist – and thus a double-dinosaur — I don’t begrudge these knights of the blog-table their grandiose dreams. But I worked on a school paper when I was a kid and I owned a CB radio when I lived in Texas. And what I saw in the blogosphere on Nov. 2 was more reminiscent of that school paper or a "Breaker, breaker 19" gabfest on CB than anything approaching journalism.

Then there’s Nick Coleman, columnist for the liberal Minneapolis Star-Tribune who was so incensed by Powerline’s audacity to question things he’s written that he went ballistic on them in what could only be described as a vicious personal attack in late December 2004.  That was, of course, after he’d already denigrated the rest of the blogosphere in September 2004:

I have been a reporter longer than most bloggers have been alive, which makes me, at 54, ready for the ash heap. But here’s what really makes bloggers mad: I know stuff.

I covered Minneapolis City Hall, back when Republicans controlled the City Council. I have reported from almost every county in the state, I have covered murders, floods, tornadoes, World Series and six governors.

In other words, I didn’t just blog this stuff up at midnight.

And as for being a political stooge, unlike the bloggies, I don’t give money to politicians, I don’t put campaign signs on my lawn, I don’t attend political events as anything other than a reporter, I don’t drink with pols and I have an ear trained to detect baloney."

Most recently, you, me, and other bloggers have come under criticism from sports columnist Nancy Clark of the Des Moines Register.  In her column, Clark wrote:

But I think "journalism of assertion" is just as pervasive in sports. Lies and rumors about coaches and players in Iowa City – accepted as fact until proven otherwise by the mainstream media – have sadly become routine. Ask Steve Alford. Ask Jennie Lillis.

Read the blogs if you want. Read the message boards. But do it for entertainment, not information. Don’t accept anything you read on them as truth unless it has been independently verified.

Usual scenario: A loser tries to make himself seem important by posting information that makes him appear to be an insider, "in the know."

What Ms. Clark has apparently forgotten is that the blogosphere rose from just a bunch of people with differing opinions to media factchecker status for a reason, as Ed Morrisey points out here (colored emphasis on links mine):

Perhaps consumers can’t tell the difference between them because the mainstream news reports are the lies.


Knowing what we do about the MSM’s feelings towards us pajama-clad bloggers out there discussing the latest issues or fact-checking the latest scandals, could it be that the position the MSM is taking on the Air America scandal is of a "show of power" mindset? In other words, assuming they even wanted to cover it (and face it, at this point the NY Sun has provided enough food for thought to give the rest of the media outlets some meat to chew on), perhaps they’ve decided they’re going to show those in the blogosphere who keep them on their toes the most (like the Radio Equalizer, author/blogger Michelle Malkin and radio host/blogger Hugh Hewitt) that they (the MSM) won’t be pushed into writing anything unless they want to?  Is this their way of saying "back off, small fries.  We’re the big boys and the game is going to be played by our rules"?

Saturday morning update: Michelle Malkin has a must-read on all the latest on the Air Enron scandal.

Linking up with Wizbang’s Carnival of the Trackbacks.

Mid morning update: Welcome, Instapundit readers!   Please make sure to read the ST welcome message while you’re here, grab a cup of coffee, and feel free to peruse the ST blog.  I hope you like what you see and will return!  Thanks mucho to Glenn for my first Instalanche :)  

Mid morning update II: Welcome also to Captain’s Quarters readers!  And a big thanks to Captain Ed for the nice comments about the ST blog emoticon

Muchas gracias to the bloggers linking up to this post and to all visiting and commenting!

Early afternoon update: Thanks, Patterico, for the link and a big welcome to your readers!  For ST regulars, make sure to click on that link to read Patterico’s post on how many things bloggers have done that Nancy Clark hasn’t emoticon  Also, hello Anchoress readers!

Mid afternoon update: A big howdy to Michelle Malkin readers!

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  • Doug Ross @ Journal trackbacked with The Times: Left Behind
  • Conservative Outpost trackbacked with More Air-America: #4
  • Captain's Quarters trackbacked with Nancy Clark Checks Out
  • Patterico's Pontifications trackbacked with Bloggers Have Done Lots of Things That Nancy Clark Hasn’t
  • mgoblog trackbacked with Nancy Clark And The Firestom Of Woe
  • Michelle Malkin trackbacked with AIR ENRON: SPITZER STEPS IN
  • Likelihood of Confusion by Ron Coleman trackbacked with Nominated for Stupidity, Kind of
  • Don Singleton trackbacked with MSM pushing back against the blogosphere?
  • The Cassandra Page trackbacked with Rathergate anniversary - 32 days and counting - MS
  • 40 Responses to “MSM pushing back against the blogosphere?”


    1. – What Klein opined could’nt be farther from the truth of course. The blogsphere, unlike the liberal MSM press, has a ruthless and unsparing approach to self check and governance. But it fits the “Denial senario” that they need, or think they need, to survive. All of the expected rhetoric and mendacity won’t effect a thing. The market place will adjudicate this “trial”, and in the most deliberate and unavoidable terms. Everything else is whistling past the cemetary. But they are driven to try. The LA times is close to buying the farm, with the takeover in leadership by an unhappy Chicago management, and the grand grey old lady’s future is in doubt. You can fool some of the people…. etc…

    2. ttyler5 Houston says:

      Sister Toldjah,

      Concerning the rules we play by, I have a big surprise lined up next week for the Houston Chronicle and a little later in the month for the NYT and its clones — let’s call it a “rule change” — and I will keep you posted and make sure you are on the press kit list!

      Concerning Mr. Klein at CNN, in Texas we real men blog far into the night in our hats and our boots, and we don’t even know what pajamas are. Only a namby-pamby yankee liberal news service president would know what pajamas are. :^D :^D :^D :^D :^D

    3. J Rob says:

      I had to laugh heartily at the “checks and balances” comment. Strange how that line is just as funny (or infuriating depending upon my mood at the time) now as the day that Klein said it. What exactly do they check? Actually they did check the authenticity of the Bush NG documents and were warned that there was a problem. That being the case, what good are the checks if they are going to be ignored? Balance? I’m sorry, but most MSM “news” is as balanced as a see-saw with me and my 7-year-old nephew at equidistance from the fulcrum. The kid doesn’t have a chance of having a downward ride unless I let him.

    4. MG (ret) Frank J Schober Jr says:

      What you and the rest of the honest, right-thinking blogs are fighting is not bias in the MSM. It’s a witting or unwitting conspiracy to misinform.

      I feel rather strongly that many of the blogs are reacting only and not attacking what has become an enemy to truth and sound political discourse—the main stream media.

      Our local paper in Santa Fe, New Mexico (politically, as moonbatty as Berkeley, California) is an example of what the New York Times, the AP and others of that
      ilk do regularly.

      The following framed as directions from an editor to all on the editorial staff seems to be the enemy of truth that you and other blogs fight each day.

      1. Any good news that may make the Administration look good…Bury it on the least read pages or better yet, don’t report it at all.

      2. Keep saying that “The American People” are upset with the progress of the economy. If the stock market takes a dip, put that on the front page. If it goes up, don’t bother to report it.
      Keep the public focused on gas prices but don’t, whatever you do, report that employment is going up, that durable goods orders are up, that the economy is posting steady gains.

      3. Report only the bad news from Iraq or anywhere else our Armed Forces are fighting. Keep a running total of combat deaths and with each roadside bombing, give the total again in big, broad headlines. Don’t bother to read much less publish anything, any report that shows that we are making progress in Iraq. If the Armed Forces are involved in a battle, as quickly as you can, report civilian casualties, any setbacks. If the forces are stopped for a day…headline that we are in a quagmire.

      4.If there is any sort of world diaster (Earthquake, Tsunami, flood) find some expert who will either blame it on the Bush Adminstration or develop a story that the Administration was slow, uncaring or some other such negative.

      5. Feature regular headlines that the President’s popularity is falling, but don’t report that the polls that your are quoting from questioned more Democrats than Republicans. Keep the public unaware of “Push Polling” that encourages the person you are polling to give you the answer you are looking for.

      6. When you are looking for “experts” for God’s sake, never reveal their background biases. Quote the hell out of any “expert” who will denounce President Bush but don’t attempt to balance off expert opinion if it will in any way harm your effort to harm the Administration.

      7. You can have a lot of fun with editorials…Why worry about their factual back-up? They are just your paper’s opinion. Don’t bother to educate your readers with editorials. We are figthing terrorists who have no country, no uniform, who are not in any way soldiers protected by the Geneva Convention but for God’s sake don’t tell that to your readers.

      I guess that my point with all of this, is that you Sister Todjah are
      fighting by the Marquis of Queensbury rules against an opponent (the MSM) that
      does not feel bound by any rules that might inhibit their effort to denounce the
      President and defame our Armed Forces. My feeling is that in addition to your
      fact checking you should also point out when they are doing any of the above
      wrongful actions.

      Newspapers have suffered another sort of corruption…something that the
      Columbia School of Journalism has yet to investigate, much less report. There
      was a time in America when journalists were broadly educated and editors held
      them to stringent standards of professional behavior. Now, with newspapers
      fighting for their corporate lives, there isn’t time for those values. It is
      too bad. We are in the age of the Blogs…Newspapers and the Networks that once
      controlled what was news and set the national agenda are on their way to
      Jurassic Park.

      MG(ret)Frank J Schober Jr

    5. Your analysis is spot on in my opinion. The MSM wants to feel they are still in total control but are too arrogant to accept the fact that they are not. The days of “bury the story and no one will ever know” are over, but they refuse to accept it. The thing that amazes me is that they will do all they can to discredit bloggers. Do they not realize that bloggers,and those that read them, are also paying customers? I guess when the quarters stop dropping in the paper racks and the advertising revenue dries up, they will finally get it.

      BTW Congrats on the Instalance.

    6. Peter Koren says:

      The MSM only makes public fools of themselves when they attack the blogs. Don’t worry about any of their comments.

      But you do need to worry about their continual attempts to use our degenerate — post Kelo — judicial system to shut you down. Whether they try to tax you for “in kind” political contributions or “unfairness” — what chutzpah! — they are always seeking any excuse to gag you. I think they will fail, but stay vigilant.

    7. MD says:

      What the elitist journalists fear, of course, is the discovery that the practice of journalism requires little more than an 8th grade education, a capacity to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and some common sense.

      But, journalism today isn’t about skills; it’s about ideology, and if one doesn’t share the approved ideology, then one isn’t accredited as a member of the club. The elitist journalist club decides what is a “fact” and what is a “lie,” and these views are then disseminated officially as “the news.”

      The blogosphere has blown this game sky high, and journalists are scared: scared their ideological games have been exposed; scared their “profession” has been subject to instant, national critique, on a daily basis; scared that a guy in pajamas can do their job just as well, in his spare time; scared that people just don’t believe them anymore.

      The practice of ideological journalism is being pushed to the wall. The journalists rage, and push back, much like a cornered animal. But the balance of power is shifting, and shifting quickly. PowerLine has more readers than Nick Coleman will ever have. In fact, PowerLine made Nick Coleman famous, but not for his journalistic prowess.

    8. DazzlinDino says:

      I posted on this after reader the Ed’s peice on it, and whne I researched the journalistic prowess of Nancy Clark at the Demoines Register, I found that besides the odd fluff piece, most of her reporting has been on Catholic Womens High School Baseball, that’s what I call headline grabbing news…..

    9. Jim Treacher says:

      Yeah, I’m kind of surprised the Times hasn’t even done a Questions Have Been Raised story. Seems like a lot of news now is about Questions That Have Been Raised. Guess it all depends on the questions.

    10. Teflon says:


      Great analysis.

      One added point:

      When Air Amerika launched, Al Franken & Co. got all sorts of LWM (I don’t call them MSM anymore) coverage.

      It’s not as though they can claim they don’t know about this.

    11. Tom Blumer says:

      Great post, nice to see you get the traffic, Sis.

      A sportswriter, of all people, complaining about the blogs.

      The sports pages and airwaves are constantly filled with rumors and gossip that doesn’t pass the “multiple layers of editing and fact-checking” test.

      You might argue that it’s “only” sports, so it’s not a huge deal in the big picture–but it is to the players and others subjected to it.

      The point is that Nancy Clark’s world of sports is populated with more than a few “journalists” whose standards are well below those of the blogosphere.


    12. Beth Donovan says:

      Great post, Sister! Congrats on the Instalanche.

    13. Jack Deth says:

      Congratulations, Sister Toldjah!!!

      I found your link through Michelle Malkin’s Blog. Great posts, Trade and Feedback.
      Pretty fair Fisking to boot! 😉

      Definitely have to visit more often!


    14. actus says:

      “And on the story regarding his addiction to painkillers, the media still foams at the mouth to give us updates on the latest developments in that case”

      I just like it when people rebroadcast his “there is no right to privacy” and “drug users are bad” tirades.

    15. Victoria says:

      Hey Sister Toldjah, I come via the Anchoresslanche — my first time moseying around your blogspace, although certainly not the first time I’ve heard of you or it.

      I posted this link of mine at the Anchoress’ comments section, of an early blogpost of mine on MSM (which I frankly admit, are my special private demons), called:

      Everything you wanted to know about Blogosphere, but were too Busy updating your Blog to ask“.

      I repeat again here:

      If asked what bothers me most about the snide attitudes by MSM, print or airwaves, is not their underlying world view, but their lack of acknoledging it frankly, and one which colours their entire coverage.

      When you start off with their premise on things, and largely, you’re not the type to share it, your resentment boils.

      Blogs just blew off the cover off this steaming brew.

      They who love to report that Iraq is the cause of terrorism are not reporting that their bias is the great impetus for the Blogosphere they see today.

      Great blog. Hope to return to it many times in future.


    16. 😎 Mister Klein needs to take a good look at his news organization, keep a record of how often his talking heads speculate about whose running for office in ’08, and compare the useless hours they spend making wild guesses about McCain and co. blogs like mine.

      They’ll find most of us dabble far less in rumors than “real journalists,” I’m sure of it.

      Your site layout is cute.:grin:

    17. Hi everyone and thank you thank you thank you for all your visit, your kind words and well wishes, and thoughtful commentary on this issue. I sincerely appreciate the feedback! We’re all on the same page here :) Some more thoughts:

      It’s pretty obvious to me what’s going on here with the MSM, and in particular the NYTimes. Face it, when the NYSun and NYPost are both covering this issue, but the NYTimes is not, you know something is up. One commenter (Teflon) brought up the fact that when Air America was in the planning stages, and when it was launched, the MSM lavished it with some of the most fawning, adoring press imaginable. Noww, when it’s under suspicion of wrongdoing (and in a major way)? Nothing.

      And the MSM wonders why so many don’t trust them?

    18. HA says:

      According to Nick Coleman:

      And as for being a political stooge, unlike the bloggies, I don’t give money to politicians, I don’t put campaign signs on my lawn, I don’t attend political events as anything other than a reporter, I don’t drink with pols and I have an ear trained to detect baloney.

      No, its even worse than all that. He works for a metropolitian daily.

      So my (likely rhetorical) questions for Coleman are, who do you vote for? If you don’t vote, who would you vote for? And is your journalism skewed in a manner that is favorable towards those you do or would vote for? Do you select facts favorable to those you support and unfavorable to those you don’t? Do you omit facts unfavorable to those you suppport and favorable to those you do? And finally, how many DNC talking point “facts” do you include in your columns that just ain’t so?

    19. Al Mascitti says:

      Gee, I feel out of place…I’m a reasonably liberal MSM columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and I disagree vehemently with the writers Sister quotes. I think bloggers are the greatest thing to happen to journalism since – well, maybe not movable type, but certainly since the PC made desktop publishing possible. One way I stay clear of the groupthink that pollutes the MSM is by staying out of the newsroom as much as possible, since it’s the one place on Earth where we know news isn’t happening…

      MD is right, the threat to MSM is that thanks to the web, journalism is no longer confined to the people MSM outlets deign to hire. As a perfect example of the free market at work, this will result in making a paying career out of journalism harder, but the overall quality of the product better. BLOG ON!!!

    20. TonyGuitar says:

      Eric Enberg, formerly of CBS News said;
      *And what I saw in the blogosphere on Nov. 2 was more reminiscent of that school paper or a “Breaker, breaker 19” gabfest on CB than anything approaching journalism.*

      Eric resents bogsite debate and de-spun news and reacts without due caution.

      He likens blogsite writing to breaker rubber duckie channel nineteen CB radio.

      Eric is clearly not aware that very good and sound debate was often practiced on frequencies above the standard CB *40*.

      These *freqs* are well below the 10 meter Ham band and did not draw any FCC attention to us, the slightly smug elite SSBers of CB sideband.

      By failing to consult with a seasoned CB radio debate hound, Eric has stepped on his own jahong.

      Eric also betrays that his prejudiced mindeset has kept him from discovering blogsites where news and current events are regularily synthisized into a clear and more honest understanding than most of the MSM.

      Too bad Eric. You loose. There are plenty of excellent news and editorial forums on the web. You just do not have the motivation or understanding to find them.

      When better blogosphere writers join together and colaborate, the MSM will tremble in their boots. 73s TonyGuitar at

    21. Lokki says:

      Ms. Clark hit one thing exactly on point: Don’t accept anything you read on them as truth unless it has been independently verified.
      The problem is that the MSM simply can’t be trusted. Therefore we started to gossip among ourselves in blogs. Eventually we discovered that there are so many of us that someone almost always finds out the truth. We have to sort through a lot of chaff, but at least it’s available to sort through. The MSM are not finished, but they are now returned to the level of small-town reporters who couldn’t lie about local issues, because the town gossips would catch them. They’re back to the dogcatcher status they had before the Nixon/Watergate story made the public heros.

    22. Hi Lokki! Yes, I suppose she did make one tiny point worth mentioning ;)

      I think one good thing about the blogosphere is that everyone is always factchecking everyone so that means the full 411 about issues eventually always comes out :)

    23. scottfromca says:

      Sister ToldJah,

      Off topic, but girlfriend, you’ve got the prettiest hair! I wish I could get my hair to look that good. Props girlfriend.

    24. G Monster says:

      You have abc, nbc, cbs, cnn, msnbc and a few others catering to the left and slanting the news. Slanting is actually a thing of the past. They now actually create the news to fit thier agenda. Dan Rather, and the recent Nascar incident to name a few. I remember during the second trial for the officers who beat Rodney King, NBC’s new slogan was, we’ll show it to you. They were hoping for riots. I wonder what kind of individual would tape the beating of Reginald Denny, but not get out of thier helicopter to help him. It is pretty simple to figure out why Fox is doing so well.