Howard Kurtz Pens Hit Piece on Truthout & Leopold, Omits Key Fact
"The Daily Kos has already outed Leopold for some sock-puppetry, and it doesn't take much imagination to think that Leopold would not have shied from misrepresenting himself." - Captain EdAs Chris Bowers at MyDD argues - and Captain's Quarters obliquely implies - major progressive bloggers have stayed away from the story. But that didn't stop Kurtz from making this generalization:
“While no other news organization touched the report, word spread through blogs and Internet sites.”While Kurtz's assertion isn't false, it is most certainly overbroad. I find it interesting that he fails to mention what Bowers lays out so clearly:
"There is something else that this story demonstrates: a difference in the willingness of many major left-wing sites online and major right-wing sites online to run with unsubstantiated stories. Last week, despite what appeared to be an extremely hot story from Leopold in Truthout about Rove, led by Peter Daou almost no major left-wing blogs ran with front-page supporting comments on Leopold's story.... The progressive political blogosphere is quite capable of self-policing, if for no other reason then we know the right-wing and the established news media are extremely eager to pounce on our mistakes to try and discredit us."Bowers correctly notes that I've written skeptically about Leopold's Rove 'scoop', expressing the following concern:
"[T]he reason I write this is that Leopold's ubiquitous reporting has set expectations very high in the blog community. We're at a moment when blogs are under assault by prominent media and establishment figures. I wouldn't want to see him used as a cudgel to flog the progressive netroots as a bunch of conspiracy nuts. There's enough of that already. We don't need to provide ammo to our opponents."A day after I posted that, the WSJ obliged by using the Leopold flap to attack progressive blogs. Salon's Tim Grieve responded:
"The Journal's Anne Marie Squeo checks in today on Leopold's report that Rove has already been indicted in the Valerie Plame case, and she uses her story as an occasion for a little blog-bashing. Squeo says that bloggers have "blurred the lines with traditional media and changed both the dynamics of the reporting process and how political rumors swirl," and she quotes Jay Rosen for the proposition that the blogosphere has a "let's see if this holds up" philosophy when it comes to news.
Just two problems here: Leopold isn't reporting on Plamegate as a blogger, and the blogosphere -- or at least the part of it we respect -- hasn't taken anything like a "let's see if this holds up" approach to his latest report. While some liberal bloggers jumped immediately on Leopold's Rove "scoop" Saturday, many others looked at the story through more cautious eyes."
Kurtz may get some satisfaction from airing Leopold's dirty laundry and painting Rove's team as innocent victims of a hoax, but if he wants to get things straight, he should at least let his readers know that the story behind the story is not that so many bloggers ran with it, but that the vast majority of influential bloggers didn't. He would also do well to inform his readers that blogs like Whatever Already, Firedoglake, and The Next Hurrah have done stellar work on the Plame scandal.
(For more on Kurtz, visit Media Matters)