Geithner confirmation problems

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.”

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