No, but it’s playing in prime time anyway, and it’s not going to change now.
Yesterday’s announcement that Sarah Palin’s daughter is pregnant came because of “rumors spreading on the Internet” that the youngest child of Palin was actually that of Sarah’s daughter.
The controversy has raised questions about how well Palin was vetted by the McCain campaign.
But there’s a more important question: Who’s vetting Daily Kos, where the rumor picked up steam, was regurgitated and was never properly checked out?
There are, as you might expect, dueling reactions to the “new journalism” today, but it’s mostly based around the “old journalism.” Should the mainstream media have paid any attention to the rumors?
No, says media critic Dan Kennedy. But he lets Kos off lightly:
Who was hurt by Daily Kos? No one, really, because there’s all sorts of misinformation percolating in the tubes (I thought an Alaska reference would be appropriate). What you hope is that the solid stuff will rise to the top, and that it will be proven or debunked. And if it’s debunked, it ought to be done somewhere other than in the mainstream media.
As for what “millions of people” who know about the rumor would think if the media stayed silent, well, I don’t hear any complaints over the lack of an investigative series on 9/11 conspiracy theories. Most people are smart enough to understand that the media would not shy away from a story like Palin’s fake pregnancy if it were true and could be verified.
PoliGazette (in the Netherlands), however, sees little role for the “new journalism”
… it is too late to backpeddle, apologize and move on for those who brought up this
subject and who have now already done tremendous damage to Palin’s image and reputation. After all, in the end rumors are heard by many more people than the news that the rumors are false.
The issue itself speaks ill, not of Palin but of the blogosphere and partisan ‘citizen journalists’ who are more than willing to publish stories that unfairly destroy a person’s good reputation, simply because doing so may help their favorite candidate or because it will help them get some more hits.
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post pushed Markos Moulitsas (the creator of Daily Kos) on the subject and got the stock blogger answer to questions surrounding what defines responsible journalism for “citizen journalists.”
“Our people are doing the vetting. Even if some of it is hitting dead ends, other ones are striking direct hits,” Moulitsas says. His role, he adds, “is to sit back and let the citizen journalists do their job, and I amplify the stuff that shakes out.”:
In other words, if you throw enough stuff against the wall,some of it will stick. Moulitsas focuses on the stuff that sticks. Others says the danger is the amplification and effect of the stuff that doesn’t.
Many bloggers like to point out that other bloggers will “fact check.” But that didn’t happen in this case. Nobody in the blogosphere investigated the rumors, or made phone calls, or lifted much of a finger to confirm (or deny) a damaging accusation that turned out to be entirely incorrect.