A bipartisan posse of bloggers managed to out Ted Stevens — everybody’s favorite punchline these days — as the senator who had put a secret hold on a bill to allow us to search and destroy pork in federal spending.
An unusual collaboration between Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Internet bloggers on Wednesday led a senator to publicly acknowledge that he’d been blocking a vote on a government accountability bill.
The admission by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, also offered a glimpse into the increasing role that online pundits play in U.S. policymaking.
Stevens’ confirmation that he was behind the legislative ‘hold’ on the bipartisan legislation came a day after Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, posted a Web log entry asking colleagues to cooperate with bloggers who were trying to identify who was using the legislative maneuver to stall a vote. . . .
The legislation, by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., would create a database that people could access online to learn the worth and the recipients of government contracts, including those secured through pork-barrel spending, or earmarks. . . .
‘When you have InstaPundit and RedState, some of the most influential conservative bloggers, working with (left-leaning) DailyKos, that’s sort of a powerful grassroots alliance,’ said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.
But blog reporter Paul Kiel, who posted confirmation of Stevens’ announcement on TPMmuckraker.com, said he doesn’t see himself taking on a greater role in policymaking.
In this case, he said, the activism was about greater public disclosure, not any ideological issue. ‘We consider ourselves to be in the tradition of traditional journalism,’ Kiel said in a telephone interview. . . .
Frist wrote, ‘I am calling on all members, when asked by the blog community, to instruct their staff to answer whether or not they have a hold, honestly and transparently, so I can pass this bill.’
There is a textbook example of networked journalism.
Here are the TMP Muckraker report, the Sunlight Foundation report, the Porkbusters plea, and Mark Tapscott’s roundup.
Where’s the Pulitzer for bipartisan, pro-am networked reporting?