Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Online political talent

Billmon is receiving some justified praise for the apparent impact his list of WMD quotes is having on the development of this story. Both Hesiod and Needlenose have congratulated him for it and I would agree with their kudos. Bill is naturally humble in his acceptance of this praise. But he also brings up an important point:
Keeping track of what those in power say -- and holding them accountable for it -- is not brilliance. It is (or should be) the stuff of ordinary journalism. It's the kind of thing the American media used to do, sometimes -- before 9/11 and our endless "war" on terrorism caused it to shut down the part of its collective brain devoted to critical thinking.
Bill is right, of course, that this does not reflect glory on himself as much as it reflects shame on the establishment media (though I think he is wrong in suggesting that this started with 9/11. This problem has been building for a long time). I've been in online political forums for years and I have been astounded by the level of reasoning and research ability exhibited by my fellow travelers. These abilities put to shame most of those who actually get paid to do those things. One reason I have been attracted to Howard Dean is that he has been making the kind of noises I have been hearing online for years. It has occurred to me that the people in power haven't made these noises is because they honestly didn't know what was going on. Dean's is a very internet connected campaign, so it wouldn't surprise me if there aren't a few people at high levels in his campaign who have been regular readers of online political forums for years. Finally all this time we've been wasting may just start paying off.

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