THE ACTUAL POLITICAL DIALOGUE AMONG ORDINARY CITIZENS: NOT THE MAINSTREAM PRESS'S CONCERN?
So I'm reading The Nation's much-discussed cover story about the spread of scurrilous, fact-challenged, frequently libelous right-wing e-mails, and early on I encounter this quote:
"It's a Pandora's box," says Jim Kennedy, who served as [Hillary] Clinton's communications director during her first Senate term. "Once [the charges] are out in the ether, they are very hard to combat. It's very unlike a traditional media, newspaper or TV show, or even a blog, which at least has a fixed point of reference. You know they're traveling far and wide, but there's no way to rebut them with all the people that have seen them."
Well, maybe not -- but what prevents the mainstream press, particularly widely read media alpha dogs such as The New York Times, from at least trying to rebut them?
I say this because I was also just reading this story in The New York Observer, which talks about bloggers-turned-journalists such as Brian Stelter (founder of TV Newser and now a Times media blogger) and Danyelle Freeman (whose Restaurant Girl blog got her a gig at the New York Daily News). If major newspapers can give big-media clout to these folks, why couldn't the Times hire, say, the people who run Snopes.com and publish or post their examinations of widely disseminated but under-the-radar political rumors circulating on e-mail -- just as they're beginning to spread, if possible?
Sure, Snopes is doing a fine job on its own -- but even the political blogosphere pays more attention to what's being disseminated by traditional media outlets such as the Times on any given day than to whatever just went up on Snopes. Big-media debunkings of utter claptrap might not kill that claptrap altogether, but they might serve as a fairly significant counterweight.
But, of course, mainstream media types would sooner hire Restaurant Girl because, well, elite journalists like to eat in nice restaurants, and they'd sooner hire the TV Newser guy because he writes about their business, the media business, and they're narcissistic. In addition, both hires might help the papers win upscale eyeballs; hiring the Snopes people to rebut political libel would just be a service to, y'know, democracy. I assume that's not a good enough reason.