Saturday, June 11, 2005

Rathergate anniversary - the 90 day countdown

By my calculation, yesterday was exactly 90 days prior to the one year anniversary of the beginning of Rathergate. September 8, 2004 was the date on which 60 minutes broadcast its report based on forged documents. CBS would stonewall for 12 desparate days, hoping somehow to prove that the documents were accurate or that the old MSM/DNC dominance could make the controversary go away.

By the time CBS issued its half-hearted apology on September 20, 2004, the entire world had changed.

Terms like "blogosphere", "pajamas" and "fake, but accurate" would become commonplace for anyone who hoped to discuss media issues intelligently. CBS would suffer a near fatal blow to its credibility - to be followed within months by CNN and Newsweek, as those institutions became embroiled in similar falsehoods that would be exposed by the blogosphere.

Perhaps most importantly, the blogosphere grew by leaps and bounds as a result of that scandal. While I had begun to follow certain blogs as the election campaign wore on last summer, Rathergate was the hook that reeled me in. My own blog began at the end of September, 2004, as I joined in the wave that carries us to the new media future.

While I can take no credit for the blogburst that brought down Rather and CBS, I do claim to be a child of Rathergate. I suspect that all of those political blogs whose archives go back only to September and October, 2004 were similarly Rathergate generated.

So, why am I writing about this now? Why not wait until September? I consider the anniversary to be such a momentous event that it merits a long runup - especially since it will be ignored by the MSM/DNC. Rathergate was the watershed event that brought not only the blogosphere, but the entire new media into the public spotlight. The new media had been growing since 1988, when Rush Limbaugh put conservative talk radio on the map. Matt Drudge's Lewinsky story made the internet an integral part of the new media revolution in 1998. But these events were only cracks in the dam. With Rathergate, the dam burst and a river of new information and opposing viewpoints poured forth. Ever since, we have been awash in information, the likes of which had previously been confined to the MSM/DNC's memory hole.

Rathergate (and the long term significance of Rathergate) deserve numerous posts. Over the next three months I hope to focus on Rathergate and the new media in an effort to foster greater appreciation of how far we have come and where we are going next. I hope also to generate sufficient buzz to insure that this event will not be ignored or lost in a sea of the MSM/DNC's usual white noise.

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