When a lobby correspondent told a source of mine that Guido Fawkes’ blog gets things wrong and isn’t written by a lobby journalist (as amusingly speculated on by the Independent) it hints at the mindset of the MSM. “We know things that we don’t publish for the great unwashed”, pill popping Blair kids may be judged best left off the front pages, but why should the petty corruption of politics be overlooked by the press? What about Blunkett living in a £3,000 a week grace and favour Mayfair pad at public expense when the government is squeezing incapacity benefits? Guido spotted it in early January. The Guardian’s Diary lifted the story wholesale. The lobby picked up on it following the original post on this blog. They quizzed the PM’s Official Spokesman and a story appeared another week later. They may have thought up the story themselves or they may have read about it on this blog. Either way the lobby works mainly for dead-tree publications so they can’t react as fast as a blogger.
A reader draws my attention to an article by IDS yesterday “Bloggers will rescue the right”. Guido doesn’t think so. Political bloggers will not be rescuers, they will be destroyers, or at least radically disrupt the existing channels of political debate. The dead-tree-news medium is slow and lazy, the need to cozy up to political sources makes them unwilling to be as ferocious as they should be in a healthy democracy. Political bloggers provide an instant reality-check on politicians and pundits. They also provide an instant fact checking service on lazy journalists as well as unearthing overlooked gems. Bloggers don’t have the human resources of the MSM but they do have an equal ability to contradict lies. The U.S. has seen bloggers make a real political impact – Dan Rather would still be mis-informing the public if he hadn’t been hounded out by bloggers. CNN has also lost a lying journalist, Eason Jordan, the chief news director of CNN, following the wrath of the Blogosphere. I have no doubt that we will see similar results here, in fact I have every reason to believe that an honest blogging research assistant will be the downfall of an MP. (IDS reminds us that a Googler exposed Campbell’s cut and pasting for the second dodgy dossier).