Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The power of the blogs

I want to share an article with you by David Michael Green entitled, "HC-9: Where the Case for Impeachment Slipped into Gear". HC-9 refers to the room in which Congressman John Conyers chaired the hearing on the Downing Street Memo. Here's part of what Green has to say:

There, in the over-stuffed, windowless box known as HC-9, the case for impeachment slipped into second gear, and gave every indication of being a force beyond the ability of the sorcerers Rove and Cheney to control. This hearing had the distinct feel of history in the making, and I was proud and honored to attend. I went home that night more optimistic for the prospects of America and the world than I have been in a long time. Cindy Sheehan, one of the witnesses, said that Thursday was the happiest day she'd had since Mr. Bush's war of personal opportunism claimed the life of her son.

Presiding over it all was America's unlikely new hero, John Conyers. Closer to the end of his long career in American government than the beginning, the congressman from Michigan has established himself of late as a rare specimen within the hopeless and hapless party of the alleged opposition.

Green then has some harsh words for the mainstream media:

Nothing in the public life of this country has been more shocking and ominous to me in my lifetime than the complete abdication of the mainstream media in fulfilling its responsibility for covering the regressive right's exploits in government, especially all things related to the Iraq war. Bill Clinton, not even a liberal, was hounded mercilessly over bogus Whitewater allegations and a bit of oral sex on the side. George Bush tells incredible lies, makes policy choices of disastrous proportions, and produces death and destruction every chance he gets. Not only does the press give him a free pass (as some have even admitted to doing) by failing to critically assess his wild assertions, they are now willfully ignoring and distorting evidence of lies which have cost tens of thousands of lives.

For some, this will only serve as a validation of my naiveté, perhaps even -- as a political science professor -- inexcusable naiveté Still, I maintain that we've not seen in the post-WWII era abominations quite like those of the last years. It was horrendous enough that the Washington Post and New York Times both had to apologize for their complete failures to serve the American public as we were considering whether or not to go to war in Iraq. But to then, on top of that, to fail to report the atomic bomb of the Downing Street Memo (or even worse, to 'report' it snidely, loaded with bias) has taken my breath away.

Then he pays tribute to the power of the blogs:

When the story of the Downing Street scandal is written by historians, the Internet will play a crucial and indispensable role, providing the vehicle by which the political landscape was reshaped -- if it ultimately is -- particularly since the failures of other institutions left no other alternative. Twenty years ago such ominous conditions as we know today likely would have meant the death of a story like this. Today that is not happening.

The indicator which suggests this especially clearly is the bizarre anomaly of the mainstream media currently all chockablock with stories about how and supposedly) why they're not covering the DSM, while at the same time running few pieces anywhere on the actual issue. How is this to be explained? If they're not covering it, what makes the fact that they're not covering it newsworthy (as opposed to millions of other stories they also don't cover)? The answer is that the blogosphere is all over this thing, and is angrily taking the media to task for its failures. Were it not for that disconnect, it wouldn't make any sense to write stories about the absence of stories on this or any other topic.

What all this demonstrates is the nascent power of this still-youthful medium. It is a power which permits individuals to be heard like they have not otherwise been for perhaps centuries, and it is a power which gives citizens a fighting chance against the monolithic institutions that have dominated policy-making for so long. No longer do the Karl Roves or the Rupert Murdochs of the world have a monopoly on determining what is important, or what is acceptable to say or think. We are reclaiming that power for ourselves.

While acknowledging that we are still in grave danger as a nation, Green tentatively sounds a note of hope. Perhaps, given that at least one Democrat has grown some spine, things might be looking up.

1 comment:

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