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The Boston Globe's Blog Problem

Media Matters For America is out to lynch another journalist (they started the Jeff Gannon witch hunt) who dares to be conservative.

While reporting on the 2004 presidential campaign for The Boston Globe, technology reporter Hiawatha Bray apparently wrote posts for several weblogs in which he declared his support for President Bush, attacked Sen. John Kerry, and bolstered discredited allegations by the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (now Swift Vets and POWs for Truth).
Lets play a game. How many lies are in that paragraph?

If you answered "2," you're correct.

We won't get into the "discredited allegations" of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a claim which Media Matters has been repeating since Unfit For Command was first published. MMFA hoped that by preemptively calling the SwiftVets "discredited" they would sink their story without actually engaging on the issues. That strategy that didn't work, but Media Matters continues to stick to that game plan.

The line "apparently wrote posts for several weblogs" is as dishonest as you can get given the content of the actual MMFA article linked. First the Media Matters hacks link to 3 actual Boston Globe stories they don't like, proving... well nothing. Next they link to comments at two blogs (Dan Gillmor's e-Journal and A Small Victory) that were made using Bray's name. MMFA can't prove that the comments were actually written by Bray, but that hardly matters to them. Evidentially they prefer their journalists to be automatronically liberal and never, ever engage in a discussion.

As much as I value the Wizbang comment community, neither I nor they would claim that they are "writing posts" for Wizbang - that is my job (and Jay Tea's and Paul's). The hundreds of regular commenters and thousands of infrequent commenters are doing just that... commenting. Discussions break out; people address each other; stories are debated; etc. In the case of Bray's comments the only two people who write posts for the "several" blogs (which is MMFA speak for 2) are Dan Gillmor and Michele Catalano, respectively.

Another telling omission from MMFA is that Dan Gillmor's was, at the time, a technology reporter for the San Jose Mercury News. Mr. Gillmor made no bones about his dislike of the President and support of Kerry. One of the Gillmor posts Bray commented on is actually about the Bush Texas Air National Guard. There was no cry from the right side of the blogosphere to demand that Gillmor be fired form his job for posting about politics, nor should there have been.

To their credit the Boston Globe handled the Bray issue in house, essentially ending the dispute by getting Bray to stop commenting on politics at blogs.

Update: Jeff Jarvis asks:

The other danger is that if you go after Bray for his anti-Kerry opinions, do you have to go after other journalists for their anti-Bush opinions? By this logic, shouldn't MediaMatters also be going after Frank Rich because, after all, he's letting political opinions seep -- no, flood -- into the arts section? Of course, not.
Of course that would go against everything Media Matters stands for. Only conservatives or perceive conservative sympathizers are subject to their attention.


There's another situation involving a Boston Globe employee and a blog owned by the Globe where the line between journalist and blogger is even more blurred. In that case, unlike the Bray case, the employee is the blogger.

Steve Silva's popular Red Sox fan blog, BostonDirtDogs.com, is owned by Boston.com which is the internet home of the Boston Globe, both of which are owned by The New York Times Company.

Silva. who is a member of the staff of the Globes sports section, published an exclusive story on the weblog that stated that Nomar Garciaparra didn't really care if he got a World Series ring from the Red Sox. The problem was that the story was a hoax. Neither BostonDirtDogs nor the Globe seem to think that they should be required to retract or correct the story, because "it's just a blog." Boston Sports Media Watch broke the story of the hoax, and wonders if journalistic standards apply to a blog owned by a newspaper conglomerate.


Comments (14)

Oh, come on! I write articl... (Below threshold)
David Brock:

Oh, come on! I write articles for Wizbangblog under the name of Kevin Aylward all the time.

I remember asking anyone to... (Below threshold)

I remember asking anyone to post any proof that discredited the Swiftboat crew. Oliver Willis took up the bait and pointed me to the Media Matters site. The only problem was, there was not one article that actually refuted any of the Swifties. All of the links were of the "waa... the swifties are connected to rich right wingers" (well, duh) and "waa waa waa... the swifties are getting too much airtime" (well, duh again).

I am not Hiawatha Bray. I ... (Below threshold)
Hiawatha Bray:

I am not Hiawatha Bray. I posted under that name. I even put in his email address! Prove he did it, suckers. You can't--*I* did it!

I am really Ranten N. Raven, and these guys at Media Matters are really LOONS!

RE: David Brock's post (Mar... (Below threshold)
Anonymous "Kevin Aylward" Drivel:

RE: David Brock's post (March 7, 2005 10:27 PM)
Oh, come on! I write articles for Wizbangblog under the name of Kevin Aylward all the time.

Will the real Kevin Aylward please stand up?

I left a voicemail for Hiaw... (Below threshold)

I left a voicemail for Hiawatha on Friday, offering my support and asking him if I could wheedle him into an on-the-record interview. He declined my offer, but at least he knows that there are bloggers out there who have his back in this.

Agreed, though, Kevin, that the Globe deserves credit for handling the situation quietly. Clearly Media Matters isn't happy about that … but so much the better, right? ;-)

"journalistic standards". T... (Below threshold)

"journalistic standards". That's an inside joke, right?

It is I, Iosif Vissarionovi... (Below threshold)
Koba:

It is I, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili: The workers are revolting! Just don't tell Lenin, or the Globe.

NATHAN:"I remember asking a... (Below threshold)

NATHAN:"I remember asking anyone to post any proof that discredited the Swiftboat crew."

Kerry's Own War Over Vietnam· Combat service is usually a campaign plus. But sparring over the Democrat's tour shows this year is different.
http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/2004/la-na-kerryviet5jul05,1,6498671.story?coll=la-center-elect2004&ctrack=1&cset=true
By Stephen Braun, Times Staff Writer 7/5/04
In Vietnam, Hoffmann and other former officers contend, Kerry bucked Navy procedure, staying in country just long enough to prime his political resume. Some question the accuracy of Kerry's recollections and the legitimacy of the first of his three Purple Hearts — a minor wound, they claim, that was not suffered in action.

"He went to Vietnam to build a career," Hoffmann said. "He was a loose cannon while he was there, and he bugged out early."

Yet Hoffmann and Kerry had few direct dealings in Vietnam. A Los Angeles Times examination of Navy archives found that Hoffmann praised Kerry's performance in cabled messages after several river skirmishes. And while the Purple Heart account remains murky, its award was routine. Navy records show Swift boat crews were frequently raked with slight wounds of uncertain origin — injuries that often earned decorations.

If you work in the MSM or a... (Below threshold)
Rod Stanton:

If you work in the MSM or academia and you have patriotic American thoughts - keep them to yourself. Or be prepared to be out of worm.

Mmmm, beer.... (Below threshold)

Mmmm, beer.

I wrote the Globe ombudsman... (Below threshold)

I wrote the Globe ombudsman asking if they were trying to be funny after reading an article where they stated
" ....Bray's anti-Kerry and pro-Bush rhetoric was at odds with the impartiality expected of journalists."

Here is the link.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/03/07/are_jarring_details_fit_for_obit?pg=2

It has been reported that B... (Below threshold)
michaelt:

It has been reported that Bray is a technology writer, not a political writer. Is that true?

You didn't even mention the fact that Kerry's attack dog Max Cleland sputtered that Bray should be fired. Why he thinks that is beyond me. Reporters can't have or express opinions (assuming it was Bray who made those comments)? I'd like to know what reporters are really thinking.

A Los Angeles Times exam... (Below threshold)

A Los Angeles Times examination of Navy archives found that Hoffmann praised Kerry's performance in cabled messages after several river skirmishes.

If that's your entire basis for refuting the Swift Boat book, well, I'm not impressed. Kind of like saying you've disproved Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection because you once saw him at church. I have still yet to see a good point by point rebuttal to the Swifties charges.

The Washington Post came the closest, saying that both sides (Kerry's camp and the swifties) "have withheld information from the public record and provided an incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate, picture of what took place. But although Kerry's accusers have succeeded in raising doubts about his war record, they have failed to come up with sufficient evidence to prove him a liar." Note the language, even they don't accuse the swifties of lying, just lacking the evidence to back up the claim (and that is a real difference).

And that was my whole point. The Media Matters guys still to this day claim that the Swiftboat guys claims have been thoroughly debunked, and that's just not the case. Like the Post I suspect both sides are probably exagerating the aspects of the case that help make their case, but since I still have yet to see conclusive proof either way its just "suspect."

As far as Kerry's first pur... (Below threshold)

As far as Kerry's first purple heart goes, there were many a sympathetic medic in Vietnam ready and willing to call a wound as "acquired in combat", even when it wasn't, to help guys get out of a combat zone. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this were the case with Kerry's first medal. It wasn't that uncommon, according to my step-father who spent three years there.




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