Friday, September 10, 2004

CBS Faces Asymmetrical Blog Reporting

CBS has been ambushed by small, agile, shadowy oppenents. Just like Kerry in the Swift Boat scandal CBS has everything to lose and its opponents have very little.

Let's say RightWingDickHead blog releases a 10-point list of reasons why the docs are fake. CBS must refute all 10. If 9 of the charges are obsurd but 1 stick, CBS loses its credibility and RightWingDickHead loses nothing. He isn't part of a multi-billion dollar corporation trying to sell ads and draw viewer based on his credible reporting. He's just some guy with a free blog. If CBS spends time and money utterly destroying his credibility, he just opens a new blog.

CBS's problem is that they are facing hundreds of blogs with tens of thousands of readers. Over the past two days more people have been fact-checking this story in the blogosphere than even work at CBS, maybe even the number who work at Viacom. They can bitch all they want about how the partisan internet is filled with rumors but that won't change the fact that they have been caught with their pants down.

Asymmetrical campaigning and this CBS fraud scandal have demonstrated the relative decline of formerly powerful institutions (big media and political parties) and the rise of informal, distributed networks. Powerline, LGF, Whizbang, Allahpundit and the other blogs are not related by a corporate org chart, a political party or by commercial interests. In many (even most) cases these people have not met each other and do not know the other bloggers' real identities. (Certainly their readers who proved most of the footwork and expertise can be and in many case are anonymous.)

The American people are not fucking stupid. It's just that prior to now they couldn't communicate with each other and share their opinions and experiences. I hope other reporters learn from this. Don't think that you can just make shit up. We are watching and reading and we will catch your lazy or corrupt asses.


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