[Update at end of post]
For those who follow events inside the Beltway, the affair of Rep. Anthony Weiner and his Twitter pictures will need no introduction, especially if they also catch the Daily Show. Weiner at first tried to suggest he hadn’t sent the photos to young female admirers, but yesterday afternoon came clean with the DC press corps.
But for the less than dynamic blogging duo of Paul Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole, the event to zoom in on was not Weiner’s press conference, but the appearance beforehand of one Andrew Breitbart, yes, the one who brought us the heavily edited ACORN “sting” tapes and then the selectively edited Shirley Sherrod speech.
Breitbart showed up demanding an apology from that same press corps, as they had been slow to believe him when he started putting the Weiner photos about. Staines and Cole (probably the latter, given the repetition of the “liberal media” talking point beloved of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse)) have asserted that this shows the superiority of the blogosphere over the hated MSM.
And that is complete and utter tosh. Breitbart had trouble convincing the established part of the Fourth Estate for one good reason: he had previous in the area of peddling dodgy material. The ACORN tapes, once the originals were supplied and analysed, proved only that all the supposed illegality indulged in or encouraged by the organisation’s staff never happened.
Likewise the Sherrod speech, which had been edited to enable Breitbart to retaliate against the NAACP, who had been suggesting that the Tea Party movement contained racist elements. In both cases, the MSM had allowed itself to be conned by Breitbart, and as a result was wary of taking him on trust again (Shirley Sherrod has since started a lawsuit against Breitbart).The parallel for Staines and Cole is only too obvious: they went after William ‘Ague, some in the MSM followed, they lost. They talked up the “Rally Against Debt”, nobody came, they lost. They’ve been after Chris Huhne for weeks, and unless the Police oblige them, they’ll lose. One has to wonder just how much more of their brand of success Staines and Cole can afford.
Yes, both Andrew Breitbart – here ranting and raving at Martin Bashir, and ending up seeing the hand of George Soros – and Messrs Staines and Cole will be in the same boat if the latter duo don’t nail Huhne. And floating that boat is losing the credibility to do serious news, and being reduced to serving up tittle-tattle.Not a good call, chaps.