Monday, February 14, 2005

Stop it John! [Update with apology]

I may not be popular for saying this but I think John Aravosis of AMERICAblog is being irresponsible with his "I've got a secret" posts.

Let me count the ways...

1. It builds an expectation in his audience that he may not be able to fulfill. At this point, unless the secret leads to the downfall of the house of Bush, a significant number of people are going to be disappointed.

2. It provides a greater opportunity for his enemies to lay the groundwork for refuting his story (he's apparently already clued Gannon/Guckert into the secret). Woodstein didn't inform Mitchel of their story on the CRP slush fund until minutes before the story went to press. By playing it the way he has, John is giving Gannon/Guckert and whoever he is allied with plenty of time to develop a counter-response.

3. It strings along his most loyal fans (again, he's already told Gannon/Guckert, so he's told the enemy something that he isn't willing to tell his friends). Reading the comments to the hint posts I am reminded of a bunch of puppies yipping and leaping at a piece of meat held aloft by their master. Is that really the kind of humiliating position you want your fans to be in John?

4. It diverts the energies of thousands of people in the blogosphere into trying to figure out what Aravosis' secret is instead of trying to figure out what Gannon/Guckert's secret is. Several valuable investigative man hours have been wasted by followers of this story looking up pictures of cartoon bulldogs on google.

5. It artificially inflates his audience in the exact same way as the evening news teasers. Is that the kind of company you want to keep John?


John, please, if you have something important to say then say it. If you aren't ready to say it, then just keep quiet about it until you are.

(And yes, I still will feel this way even after the secret is revealed and it turns out to be the thing that leads to the fall of the house of Bush.)


UPDATE: I just want to be clear about something here: I am not criticizing John for wanting to hold off on this story until he has it locked down. That is the responsible thing to do. What is irresponsible is the way he is stringing people along with these hint droppings. I am as interested in what John has as is anyone and will analyze it independent of my thinking of how he is handling it now. But regardless of how good the story turns out to be, the way he is handling it now is just plain wrong.


UPDATE 2: I own John Aravosis an apology. I should have posted my criticism to him in private first before doing so in public here, on dKOS and in the comments section of his own blog. I should have given him the chance to respond in private before going public.

I still stand by my criticism. But I was wrong in my method. I'm going to leave this post up as is since the damage is already done and as an example of how not to handle things like this.


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