So, the Eason Jordan business has come to a close by demonstrating conclusively that if a hundred idiots bay at the moon simultanously, they can force the resignation of a network executive over a preposterous non-story. What’s especially telling, though, is the response we’ve seen to people pointing out that it is, in fact, a preposterous non-story: Various commenters have glibly dismissed all criticism as signs of old-media dinosaurs who’re hostile to blogs per se, rather than merely hostile to the pointless manufacturing of scandals by people whose own boundless reservoirs of righteous indignation get them hard. This resembles not a little some other familiar movements: Had a criticism of Freud? Obviously you were yourself in denial, disturbed by your recognition of the Freudian picture’s accuracy. Didn’t find Marxist arguments persuasive? Either false consciousness or naked class self-interest conditioned by the inexorable laws of history. The blogosphere’s self-congratulatory atmosphere threatens to become as toxic as it is intoxicating, shutting down the very openness to criticism that is its chief strength.
Eyes on the prize here: What’s really relevant isn’t the blogger vs. professional media distinction. If it had been someone at The Weekly Standard or some talk radio host who broke and flogged this thing, it wouldn’t much matter, though it would’ve had the merciful effect of preventing the fallout from being shoehorned into this silly David vs. Goliath narrative. Both sorts of media are succeptible to the kind of herd mentality that turns something not actually deserving of attention—a careless and immediately retracted remark at a closed-door meeting—into a toy scandal.