Tuesday, August 24, 2004

John Kerry, The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth and the Rise of the Blogosphere

The Kerry Campaign is floundering on the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth. August was a bad month for the Kerry camp as this timeline clearly shows. When John Kerry was forced to make a statement about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth he went with the tried and true Democratic response, he attacked the messenger and claimed right wing conspiracy by attempting to link the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to the Bush Campaign. To that point the media had done its dutiful best to keep the fact that John Kerry had been caught in a whopper of a lie away from the eyes of the general public. The press was arrogant in believing that the strangle hold they had had on the flow of information was as tight as it had been for the last 100 years. Besides, no one listens to the right-wing nuts on talk radio anyway, right? But Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Katie Couric et al had underestimated a powerful new force in media. A force that is reaching millions of Americans on a daily basis, a force that provides instant fact-checking abilities to the reader, yet unlike the nightly news proudly admits to bias in one direction or the other. The Blogosphere. The Blogosphere was able to push the story into the "main stream' by sheer force of numbers. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth produced and ad and a book, a sample chapter of which was available online. In that chapter there was one claim that had been made by Kerry dozens of times that seemed implausible, that he had spent Christmas of 1968 illegally in Cambodia. The blogosphere then did what reporters in the main stream press used to do: they investigated the claim using readily available public sources. Bloggers then posted their findings on the internet, complete with sources, for the world to read - and the world read. One blog alone, Instapundit, received over 250,000 hits yesterday. There are newspapers in this country that wish they could get their circulation back to that number. John Kerry ignored the fact that he had been caught in a lie, and the mainstream press ignored the story completely. But much to their surprise, millions of Americans were talking about the story. They knew John Kerry was caught in a lie of major proportions. A stunned Kerry was forced to respond and an even more stunned press was forced to cover the story.

Much to the chagrin of big media, the blogosphere has come of age.