Archive for January, 2009

Deadspin leads McGwire news

January 23, 2009

A bit of a busy week has kept me from sitting down and going through all the blogs about Obama’s first week, but there has been so much written in so many different places one can only dream of getting it all. But I am watching a story the could be one of the first, best examples of blogs driving mainstream coverage, so keep an eye out.

Although not necessarily political or in the immediate scope of this blog, there was big news in the sports world yesterday when sports blog Deadspin broke news that Mark McGwire’s brother, Jay, was shopping a book in which he claims to have introduced his slugger brother to steroids. This story quickly gained ground in the mainstream sports media. ESPN ran a story, citing Deadspin as the source. The much-circulated Associated Press story also cited Deadspin.

Deadspin also got real reportery and truth-like, providing corroboration to its original story.

Good work by Deadspin, especially on a day that also featured its editor getting hit in the face with a cookie sheet.

Geithner confirmation problems

January 14, 2009

President-elect Obama’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, has stumbled upon some troubles in being confirmed to the position. Issues have arisen about his alleged failure to pay taxes for three years and the immigration status of some of his house workers.

Conservatives blogs are surprisingly mixed. Powerline offers a defense of sorts, saying it can be easy for busy people with odd employment statuses to be confused. In fact, it says conservative blog Hot Air’s post on Geithner’s problems had “gone overboard” by calling him a “tax cheat.” Hot Air had a new, measured post today, in which they got away from calling Geithner a “tax cheat,” but argued that as New York Fed chair, he “oversaw Citigroup’s descent into the toilet.” Michelle Malkin is on attack mode, with multiple posts referring to Geithner as a “tax dodger.”

Among these conservative blogs, there is one constant: they are reflections on the reporting of others. Sources include The Wall Street Journal (who broke the story), Bloomberg, ABC News’ Jake Tapper’s blog, and more.

On the left, The Huffington Post has some commentary provided by blogger Joanne Bamburger. It also has an AP story and some original reporting by Sam Stein, Stein’s report with an expert saying that Geithner’s tax error is common. Left-leaning Talking Points Memo has a post with analysis and commentary portraying Geithner in a sympathetic light. They do not offer any new information, simply a response to the same Wall Street Journal story Hot Air referenced. The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder also responds to the WSJ report, again defending Geithner without offering much in the way of original reporting.

This story is another example of what I think will be a common theme: blogs can sometimes offer original information, as Sam Stein does. But Stein has so far offered only original reporting that backs the liberal views of Huffington Post readers. So that means that either a) liberals are always right or b) Stein functions as someone who legitimizes the already-held viewpoint of the blog readership. Because two weeks is not ample time to gather an an accurate sample, we should keep an eye on this throughout the semester.

Outside of Stein, however, we have more of what we saw last week: Blogs using mainstream media sources and providing their own commentary on them. While some also referenced each other, they mostly linked to a news story and opined. We again saw other blogs linked to as a source, but this time it was ABC News, an already-established news source.

As we begin monitoring these blogs more regularly, we may see some change in this pattern. Until then, file this one under “Blogs using mainstream sources.”

Roland Burris to be seated

January 7, 2009

The big news today is that Roland Burris, the man appointed to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat by semi-disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich, may be seated by Senate Democrats after his initial rejection yesterday. They initially did not want to seat Burris to avoid any potential trouble in accepting the choice of a man accused of selling that very seat.

The reaction online has actually been somewhat muted. The Drudge Report had the story as its lead item for most of the day, under the headline “BLAGO WINS: Senate Dems ‘plan to accept ‘ Roland Burris for Obama’s vacancy.’ The headline uses a bit of loaded language. By saying that “Blago wins” Drudge implies that there was a battle between an apparently corrupt governor and Senate Democrats. And the Senate Democrats lost. Drudge, whose site is a destination for mostly conservatives, certainly benefits by getting that shot in. Aside from this loaded language, he links to this story, a wire report from Chicago’s CBS affliliate’s Web site.

Also on the right, Michelle Malkin is relatively quiet, posting a single-line entry with a link to a wire story on Conservative-leaning news aggregator Breitbart. Hotair.com’s Ed Morrissey links to a wire story and offers some opinions on the situation.

Left-leaning blog The Huffington Post links to essentially the same wire story. The site also includes some video from MSNBC, in addition to some original reporting by Sam Stein saying that Obama is putting some of his weight behind Burris to get him seated.

Additionally, blogger Jane Hamsher (who also founded and blogs for left-leaning FireDogLake.com) has an entry on the subject. He entry links back to several other places, including her own site and more traditional news sources like Politico, Reuters and The New York Times. Of interest to this blog, she also linked to two other blogs who often offer reporting as well as insight: Politico’s Glenn Thrush (whose original reporting is linked to) and washingtonpost.com’s Chriss Cillizza (who offers both analysis and original reporting in his link).

One thing that she be taken from today is how on this story, sites like Drudge, Malkin, Huffington Post did not offer as much reporting as they linked to the reporting of others and offered their own insights (and gave commenters a place to discuss their own opinions as well). This is not to say that there is anything wrong with that, but if we are looking to analyze the role of blogs in modern journalism, it must be said. Meanwhile, blogs at washingtonpost.com and Politico, to companies who use original reporting as a large part of their business model, are also referenced as sources for these other blogs’ opinions. It will be interesting to see if this is a theme throughout the semester.