The Talking Lion

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Son of Deep Throat

30 years ago, there was no such thing as “anonymous sources” in the mainstream media. It was simply a journalistic no-no to publish a story that with an unnamed source. That all changed with Mark Felt.

The man who was given the code name Deep Throat (more than likely a reference to the porn flick of the same name popular in the era in which one woman’s clitoris is located in her throat and the only way she is able to achieve an orgasm is through performing fellatio) changed journalism. In the process he brought down a criminal who also happened to be the president of the United States. (See Vanity Fair)

Things have certainly changed since then. In the late 60’s and early 70’s in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate the public had little reason to trust the government and a once unshakeable faith we had in our leaders telling us the truth was undermined with these scandals. Nowadays the public spends more time complaining about the media distorting the facts, this overblown “liberal bias” and lets the Bush administration get away with manipulating intelligence to fit policy on the road to war with Iraq. By the way, if anybody is still counting, the death toll for American soldiers has climbed above 1,650. The mainstream media is also on the defensive much more than it was 30 years ago, and oftentimes, to quote my friend and colleague Arun Mahan Butcher, lacks the “balls” to call into question some of the actions of this administration.

So here we are, 30 years after the Washington Post arguably single-handedly brought down the president, living in a world where the mainstream media is more spineless and more reviled than it ever has been. So where do we go from here?

This is where the blogs come into play. Traditionally the media’s role is to call out those in power who are behaving questionably and inform the public of the truth behind the claims. They are supposed to keep the powerful in line; not let them get away with deceiving the public with rhetoric and misleading statements. The media is supposed to let the country know when the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. What happened with Iraq over the past two years suggests that the media is not doing a good enough job. There needs to be some sort of entity out there to keep the media on its toes; call them out when they fail to do the job that the public needs them to do and expects from them. The internet and bloggers have helped to fill in this gap. Blogs like this and several dozen others are calling attention to the Downing Street Memo (see Arun’s post from Tuesday for details) which got little play in the mainstream press. The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz regularly cites what’s happening in the Blogosphere in his Media Notes column. Even CNN has attempted to monitor the pulse of the bloggers and keep viewers updated on what they’re saying in cyberspace.

The fact that these media outlets are even acknowledging the existence of a few self-proclaimed pundits shows that enough people are paying attention to make a difference. In these troubled times with this administration wielding power, America needs bloggers more than ever.

2 Comments:

  • On a related note about anonymous sources, we are finally seeing a serious downside to that practice in the Valerie Plame case. When your anonymous source commits treason by letting you know something, that ought not be protected.

    By Blogger Patrick, at Thursday, 02 June, 2005  

  • Also, I agree with you to some extent about bloggers being important, and it certainly democratizes the information flow quite a bit, but I am definitely worried about blogging being co-opted by the establishment.

    Also, I think we need to comment on each other's posts until we get regular readers.

    By Blogger Patrick, at Thursday, 02 June, 2005  

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