Posts from February 4, 2005

Media on media

Media on media

: Also supposed to be in a story on CBS Sunday Morning this week on the FCC a year later.

Media on media: The FCC

Media on media: The FCC

Just got the call to be on Dan Abrams’ show on MSNBC at 6 tonight on the FCC and so-called indecency a year after Nipplegate. Will blog on this later.

How has blogging changed lives?

How has blogging changed lives?

: Please leave comments about bloggers whose lives have changed in major ways because of their blogs (doesn’t matter whether you know the bloggers).

A reporter from a big magazine asked me for examples of “people whose blog has negatively affected their life” (e.g., getting fired for blogging). I replied that I couldn’t think of any but I sure could think of people whose lives had changed postively because of their blogs — bloggers who now do this for a living, bloggers who became famous, bloggers who are changing the world. This good reporter convinced her editor to include this in the story. And so I volunteered to ask you all for suggestions.

So please leave comments with ideas. (Don’t embarrass me by saying nothing!)

What Alterman said

What Alterman said

: MSNBC does not have a transcript of Alterman’s appearance on Iraqi bloggers, so I got out a tape and transcribed the relevant portions. (My previous posts here and here; his here and here.)

Alterman said that from mainstream media, he can’t get the view from the ground in Iraq and perspective he is looking for and so “one place I go for that on Iraq more than anywhere else is a blog by a professor by the name of Juan Cole.” Note that Alterman now says he has never read Iraqi blogs. Note also that it was Cole who first spread the tin-hat speculation about the CIA and Iraqi blogs. Note finally that this appearance comes after The New York Times also spread this tin-hat speculation.

In the segment — which came a few days before the election — I gave a tour of Iraqi blogs, showing them on the screen, emphasizing Friends of Democracy, Iraqi the Model, and Healing Iraq. Alterman then said:

You know, given the information we’ve gotten about the Bush Administration’s attempts to manipulate the media with secret payments to Armstrong Williams and so forth and various CIA disinformation programs I’d be really surprised if they were not using bloggers… I’d be surprised if that doesn’t turn out to be the case… It’s naive to imagine that the CIA is not using this.

I replied: “If you’re going to start raising this, you’d better have evidence, you’d better be journalistic.” He replied: “It’s naive to imagine that the CIA is not using this tool…. The CIA has a long history of manipulating…”

Monica Crowley, the cohost with Ron Reagan, said the side that is known to be using the web is the terrorists. Alterman said: “First of all, I don’t think they’re necessarily terrorists.” Crowley looked ready to bust a gasket and said that al Qaeda has used the web. Alterman acknowledges them as terrorists and relents: “I thought you were talking about the people who see themselves as defending their country.” Like those who blow up schools, I said.

We came back to the argument. Again, Alterman said he’d be surprised if the CIA isn’t doing this. Again, I said, “On what basis? You’re a journalist, give us the evidence. ” He replied: “I’ve given you the evidence. The CIA has historically manipulated many, many elections in the third world… You think an organization that participates in torture is morally incapable of manipulating a blog… I don’t get it.”

Just because something could happen, that doesn’t mean it does. Is that how we should fill our newspapers and TV news shows: ‘This could happen; I could imagine it happening; I have absolutely no evidence that it is happening but I’ll say it anyway’?

The man doesn’t even read the blogs he’s speculating about. He reads the guy who spreads this speculation. He then spreads the speculation with no basis in fact. Upon hearing this again, it’s worse than I remembered: He is making every blogger in Iraq — every citizen who dares to speak online — a suspect in his conspiracy theories and is potentially endangering every one of them.

I repeat: Irresponsible.