You probably aren't aware of this if you don't lurk at right-wing Web sites, but the questioning of those National Guard documents doesn't just make conservatives think they've caught Dan Rather and CBS with egg on their faces -- it makes them think they are on the verge of destroying the entire established media universe.
It doesn't matter to these people that Jayson Blair didn't destroy The New York Times, or that Stephen Glass didn't destroy The New Republic. Hell, it doesn't even matter to them that the Clinton mulatto-baby story didn't seem to put a dent in Matt Drudge, as they of all people should know. Like their god George Bush on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln declaring "Mission Accomplished," these people are premature self-congratulators, and they have a laughably overcaffeinated sense of their own importance.
Here's Tony Blankley in The Washington Times:
"The major advances in civilization are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur." That observation by the British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead came to mind this past week as I watched Dan Rather struggle violently like a proud old marlin caught on a hook by the young Internet fishermen....
This week it is Dan Rather and CBS News, through their failed effort to prove the legitimacy of their forged Bush National Guard documents, who are being revealed as hapless, helpless victims of an anarchic, swarming, overwhelming Internet blog technology. Soon, other great news institutions inevitably will be revealed for their inadequate capacity to fully report the news.
As in all revolutions, first, the old order must be destroyed, then we will learn both the strengths and the shortcomings of the new order. We got a glimpse of the Internet blogger's strength this past week.
This 50 or 75 years from now will be looked at by nonpartisan, noninvolved, people not even born yet historians, who will write about this is something seminal, as something monumental and momentous in the changing political makeup of this country. This is a time that's going to be looked back on, when a press revolution was completed, when the old media giants fell, when a monopoly was emphatically shattered, and when the new media solidified its right place as one of the great and good forces in American society which I firmly believe that we are, ladies and gentlemen.
And here's Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online, comparing this incident to -- no, I'm not making this up -- the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand:
Dan Rather didn't think he was going to blow himself up. He believed he was invulnerable. He was the equivalent of some powdered-wigged fool who believed that Austria would come out on the other side of a short battle with its reputation enhanced. Instead, it revealed that CBS News is really the Sick Man of Big Media. I have no desire to go trolling around inside Dan Rather's brain. We all know from Star Trek that a mind-meld with such an alien psyche could leave me permanently damaged. But it's clear that Dan Rather doesn't understand what's going on any more than those poor last dinosaurs understood why the tasty green fronds became so hard to find when it got cloudy. As an icon of the old world of big media, his self-inflicted extinction will surely be recognized as the end of not merely Dan Rather, but the age of Dan Rathers.
Would it be unfair to point out that Blankley appears regularly on "old-media" political talk shows, that Limbaugh used to draw a paycheck for football commentary from ABC, and that Goldberg happily pinch-hit for Ann Coulter when USA Today wanted a conservative take on the Democratic convention? No, it would not. Nor would it be unfair to point out that every blogger these writers praise would take old-media money in a heartbeat.
And would it be unfair to say that that Goldberg's paragraph, with its jarring Star Trek analogy, is the worst paragraph ever written about the media? Well, yes, it would be unfair -- because Goldberg's lead paragraph is, in fact, the worst paragraph ever written about the media:
I love the CBS News forged-document story. To paraphrase the abominable snowman from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, I want to hug it and squeeze it and name it George. Okay, I don't want to name it George, but you get my drift. If this story were hot fudge, I would smear it all over my body and then roll around in nougat.
Merciful mother of God. Yes, he actually wrote that, and yes, William F. Buckley, or his heirs and assigns, actually paid him to write it.
And yes, the link on the words "abominable snowman" -- a Looney Tunes sound clip -- is in the original.
These are your revolutionaries.