Regarding the delusional Tom Shales comment linked to yesterday, about how the Rathergate documents have "not yet been proved" as forgeries, I direct you to page 39 of Hugh Hewitt's terrific new book on the birth of the new information revolution, Blog. Excerpts (transcribed by me, non-contiguous):
The now famous 60 Minutes 2 broadcast ran on September 8, 2004 and - based primarily on memos allegedly written by Bush superior Lt. Col. Jerry Killian in 1973 - the story asserted that Bush did not do his duty and had in fact disobeyed direct orders. Whether or not these charges, had they been true, would have mattered in the campaign is beside the point, because they were not true. The Killian memos were forgeries. In fact, they were bad forgeries.
The morning I read Powerline's initial entry I immediately turned to Google to locate a document expert to interview on my radio show. I found him in Farrell Shriver, a highly qualified document expert. I interviewed him on air on the ninth, and transcribed the conversation on my blog in the hope of reassuring bloggers generally that expert opinion backed them up.
The next day I would publish emails from Professor Robert "Corky" Cartwright at Rice University that would be widely cited as more definitive evidence that the forgeries were in fact forgeries. INDC Journal had found another expert in Dr. Phillip Bouffard, who declared that he was 90 percent positive that the documents were faked. Dr. Joseph Newcomer posted a detailed and final exposition on why the forgeries were forgeries, and the issue became undebatable, except by kooks and Dan Rather.
To that list, please add Tom Shales, media critic of the Washington Post. Or would that be redundant?
I'm only about half way through a comprehensive reading of Blog, but it's been terrific so far. (My first pass, of course, was just looking for our name. And Hugh doesn't disappoint, providing several generous attributions. Favorite one, from page 109: [Powerline] are also the senior members of The Northern Alliance - a group of Minnesota-based blogs that includes Lileks, Captain's Quarters, SCSU Scholars, Shot In The Dark, and Spitbull, and which are collectively changing the way Minnesota thinks. Did I mention Fraters Libertas? They are also part of The Northern Alliance, in the way that the crazy aunt in the basement is part of the family.)
In Blog, Hewitt chronicles the development of the medium via the four most influential episodes so far: 1) Trent Lott's resignation, 2) Howell Raines's resignation, 3) John Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia stories, and 4) Rathergate.
Hewitt argues, quite persuasively, that blogging will change the way people around the world access information. If so, this book is destined to be a seminal account of the medium.
Beyond the history documented and trends identified, what Hewitt does so well is capture the excitement of blogging. Lest we forget, the primary reason any of us started this is because it provided personal enjoyment. It was (and is) fun. Expressing our opinions on issues and countering the MSM view of reality was liberating and exhilarating, even before we had actual readers. Then just a few short years later, the merit based stars of blogosphere broke through and started getting mass exposure, and acceptance, by holding institutions and power accountable for their transgressions.
Think back to the Dark Ages (to extend a Hewitt metaphor), when the local monopoly newspaper was delivered daily to our front doors and three singularly-minded network news broadcasts beamed into our living rooms, each promoting political agendas largely contrary to our beliefs and heaping derision on our perspective. Who would have thought one day we could speak back, on an equal footing? And not just speak back, but also win the argument, based on the facts and the ability to persuade? Not me, friend.
But that is exactly what has occurred. It is a tale of freedom and mass empowerment. And that's the spirit Hewitt captures in Blog. (I can only imagine what awaits me when I actually have time to read the whole book!)
I strongly recommend you pick up a copy soon. Something I'd advise, even if I didn't receive a free promotional copy. (You can trust me on that, I'm a blogger.