A Web of Bunk (washingtonpost.com)

This is exactly what gave birth to the widely reported ‘hump’ in the ‘isbushwired’ nonsense. The conspiracy theory that Bush was wearing a wire in the debates and being ‘fed lines’. That rumor, by the way, was even referred to by Paul Begala as a ‘myth’, stating “It was nothing, his suit was puckering. A lot of people believe he had one of these in his ear. If he was being fed lines by Karl Rove, he would not have been so inarticulate, guys. It’s a myth.

However, it is driving even more irrational stories into the press, too. Sure, some are legitimate, but it is the ‘outrageous conspiracy theories’ that are already serving up content for ‘story poor’ news organizations to fill their time with – all the while, neglecting more important issues.

It is the ‘CBS, Why didn’t you investigate further before airing the story?’ question over and over and …

A Web of Bunk (washingtonpost.com)
How the Press Gets Pushed Into Phony Stories

By William Raspberry
Monday, October 25, 2004; Page A19

The information explosion occasioned by the World Wide Web — putting at the fingertips of schoolchildren information that would have been inaccessible to PhD researchers a generation ago — has the potential to make us all smarter, to free us from the tyranny of those who would limit our access to truth, to empower us.

Fair enough. Yes, access to information has mushroomed. However, the kind of information available is the question. Mainstream media is latching on to way too many nonsense stories … some horribly painful. They cause people to doubt the causes of tragic disasters. They cause undue speculation on ‘the’ issue of the day. Terrorism.

Later in Raspberry’s column, we learn some examples.

Much the same thing happened a few weeks ago when The Post, driven by persistent postings on the Web, sought to debunk a story to the effect that no airliner crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11 — that the damage was done by an American-launched missile.

If more or less ordinary citizens — “netizens” — could drive the CIA-crack story or the Sept. 11 fantasy into the mainstream press, imagine what a well-financed, politically motivated, smartly directed campaign could do. That, essentially, is what happened with the Swift Boat Veterans group.

(Via Romenesko

The ‘power’ of bloggers? I have concerns about the power of the tactic, or channel/medium, and how it can be used (or mis-used) in destructive ways.

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