Thursday, December 13, 2007

Charles Johnson: The Dan Rather of the Blogosphere?

The LGF squabble has generated quite some discussion, and I have been over quite a lot at Gates of Vienna to discuss it (you know by now that this is where you find me when I'm not posting here).

The whole affair has now been summarized eloquently by Baron Bodissey in two articles. One yesterday named Suggested Corrections for Charles Johnson, and then today Charles Johnson: The Dan Rather of the Blogosphere? A question which I find very appropriate at this point.

Baron Bodissey starts his article with some background:

The downfall of Dan Rather in the fall of 2004 was brought about by the hard work of a lot of ordinary people, by men and women without any J-school credentials or experience in the field. It was a triumph of a new form of media.

And Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs was the hero of that triumph.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Needless to say, Mr. Johnson wasn’t the only star of the show. The initial exposé of the Killian memo came from Free Republic. Other prominent bloggers were in the thick of it doing important work, including Power Line, Michelle Malkin, Roger Simon, and Instapundit. Bill at InDC Journal played a crucial role when he contacted an expert on typewriters who made mincemeat of the CBS in-house expert’s laughable assertions. Many other smaller blogs, commenters, and forum posters contributed to the effort. It truly was “an Army of Davids”.

He continues:
So what has gone wrong with this process as it applies to the conflict with LGF about Vlaams Belang and Sverigedemokraterna?

As mentioned yesterday, Charles Johnson has left standing a number of erroneous posts on these topics, without posting a public retraction or correction. These are not mere opinions, nor interpretations of photos or rat cartoons. These are actual errors of fact, ones that can be easily confirmed as false if anyone bothers to look up the cited sources.

So why has fact-checking failed in this case?

And concludes:
What are the options for Charles Johnson, or for any other prominent blogger who makes significant factual errors?

I see the same three possibilities that faced Dan Rather when the forged Killian memos were exposed:

Acknowledge the errors and accept responsibility for them, even though they were committed by subordinates. This was not the road taken by Mr. Rather.
The infamous “fake but accurate” defense, which acknowledges that the “facts” were bogus, but asserts the underlying truth of the accusations. Dan Rather attempted this strategy, but it never gained any real traction, not even in the MSM.
Stonewalling. This was the method most favored by Mr. Rather, and which he persists in to this day, as witnessed by his lawsuit against CBS.

So far Charles Johnson has preferred option #3, failing to take up any of the suggested corrections posted here yesterday.

But I’m optimistic that this situation might change. After all, Mr. Johnson gained a well-deserved reputation for ferreting out the truth, and letting the chips fall where they may.

I'm not so optimistic as the Baron here. Charles Johnson has let himself become a mouthpiece for the hard left. Charles sees them as brothers in "anti-fascism". They despise him, but see him as their useful idiot. Charles seems to have gone too deep into this, and shows no signs of turning around. He is impervious to arguments as well as to seeing the bigger picture here.

[End of post]

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