Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The web today, just nuts (borrowing from Isaiah)

The above is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts from July 10, 2005.

We've added a link and if we didn't add in order (the permalinks are more or less in order, with community sites being brought up to the lead*), it would be higher up: Truth Out.

If you missed the editorial at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Jason Leopold has reported on an indictment of Karl Rove in the Plamegate case. (Click here to go to his Saturday report.) Rebecca phoned earlier and you can read her take here. I've heard from my friends (the ones who are in journalism) that: a) it's completely true and coming soon; b) they have accepted the official word (no indictment) as truth; c) "What do you know?"

On the latter, nothing. I have no friends in the Special Counsel (Patrick Fitgerald) office.

Those who think it's true think it will break soon. My own guess (mine, not anyone I spoke to) would be that if it broke (this week) it would break either during the hearings tomorrow (to take heat off of Michael Hayden -- remember, they will be broadcast live, I'll note the details at the bottom of the post) or on Friday. That's when Scooter Libby's indictment was announced.

What if it doesn't break? What if it's not true? Again, I know no one in Fitzgerald's office and Karl Rove's still mad at me for selling him on the salsa diet -- telling him he could continue to eat everything he wanted and, as long as he topped it with salsa, he wouldn't gain a pound. (I'm joking on the Rove comment. I don't know Karl Rove.)

If it's not true, then it's not true.

But there is some sort of a drive/push to turn on Jason Leopold. Not from the right, but from some on the left and the supposed left. If it's not true then his sources burned him. That does happen. It happens at networks and at papers. It happens in the mainstream media and in independent media. Good reporters get burned, bad reporters get burned.

If you've ever stuck up for a friend, you may have gotten burned. Maybe you swore ___ would never cheat on a spouse and it exploded in your face. You felt pretty foolish afterwards. But you picked yourself and went on.

That's what Leopold will do if this explodes in his face.

But there seems to be some rush to light a fuse to Leopold.

It's feeling like (and I'm not sure whether I made this observation first or a friend did) the attempts to bury Gary Webb on a story that, in the end, was proven to be a strong one.

Leopold's standing by his story. In this community, we're not trying to get on TV or radio to become the new Cokie or whatever gas bag you want to name. There's no need to appear "respectable." Someone who has broken many stories before has a story that people want to rush and scream, "Not true!"

It's feeling a lot like Gary Webb.

I don't know why there's a need to rush in and attempt to bury (or smear) Leopold. (No one in this community has e-mailed to complain about Leopold.) If the story is incorrect, time will bear that out.

What we have right now is his reporting and his past work. You'd think that would be enough to cause some people to put away the knives they seem so eager to stab him with.

In this community, he's a reporter that's a trusted voice so we'll continue to trust him.

One print reporter, who doesn't think it's true, said that part of the reason he's accepting the official statement is because it didn't come from one of "the biggies." Not unlike the attitude by those who tore Webb apart. (In fairness to the friend, he didn't tear Leopold apart. He just didn't believe the story was true. Those who didn't believe it either left it at that or expressed sympathy for Leopold because they believed he was being set up. It's really amazing that was the response from professionals who doubted the story when contrasted with some of the comments Rebecca told me had gone up online.) Jason Leopold's broken many stories.

Me, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt I believe he's earned.

He wouldn't risk his reputation to report something he hadn't researched and sourced.

Apparently, some are attacking him based upon his experiences in his private life. Unlike certain reporters, no complaints been lodged with a guild about his personal life. More to the point, I don't know of many reporters who have spotless record in their personal life. (And have never been bothered by that fact.) His past experiences really aren't the issue. His past reporting is.

If someone has an issue with that, they should raise it and then some. (I have no problem with his previous reporting.) But it seems really sad that some of the people you'd expect to support him are attacking him and using his past, personal experiences to do so.

"Sad." I didn't say forbidden. People should use their voices to speak however they want. (That's been my attitude about everything including the threatening e-mails over a TV review, for God's sake, when some little Nick Lachey lover -- or whomever -- gets bent out of shape over what Ava and I wrote.) But I'm really not sure why it's coming from those who should be in his camp?

A lot of people proved their "respectability" bonafides by slamming Gary Webb. (The fact that Webb was eventually proved right didn't seem to matter.) If that's the whole goal of "professionalizing" the web (something as sad as privatizing it), that's strikes me as rather sad.

If someone is seriously bent out of shape because they read Leopold's articles on this subject and expected the indictment to be announced Monday, they have every right to express themselves (however they see fit) but, as I'm hearing it from Rebecca and friends, that's not what's going on. As one friend at CBS (who doesn't believe an indictment is forthcoming) said, "Interesting how many are quick to say 'I'm not him!'"

Right now, you have a reporter who broke a big story and is sticking by it. It's not easy to do that (and that may be why the friends I spoke to who didn't believe an indictment was forthcoming were so sympathetic to him). When a ball starts rolling against your reporting, the easiest thing for a reporter to do is to back off.

"Don't make waves!" That's one of the many reasons journalism is in such a sorry state. Everyone who comes off like a press whore isn't one. A lot of them have just internalized the "don't make waves" message. You can be wrong, without any cost to your reputation, as long as you're part of a group that's wrong. But if you're wrong and all alone, it can cost you a job, a career, a name. So people get timid. (Like the New York Timid.) They kill stories or don't pursue leads. Group think leads to stenography and a fear to question when questioning is needed the most.

Leopold's standing by his story during a very difficult period. Those who have sympathy or patience might be better off waiting to see how this turns out before slamming him. A message is sent out by the attacks, the same as if this was happening at a network or paper. Though no one can disprove his story, he's being attacked. The next person who has a story might be far less likely to run with it. Leopold himself seems strong enough to get through this (whether it's vindication at the end or being burned by sources) without any sympathies but sometimes the ones that seem the strongest need the support the most.

Rebecca's covered it in "michael hayden hearing broadcast live on kpfa thursday" and "things that make you go 'what the f---!'" and, as she notes, Dennis Bernstein has covered it KPFA's Flashpoints.

Remember that Thursday (tomorrow) KPFA will provide live coverage of the hearing -- Larry Bensky and Mitch Jesserich will anchor.

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* Community sites that were moved up have chosen sites to replace their earlier links or will chose to.