Kow-towing to the blogs

When the right-wing bloggers say jump, the mainstream press asks, how high?

Published April 11, 2005 2:36PM (EDT)

The New York Times has published some pointless stories in the past, but this morning's "Blogs Incensed Over Pulitzer Photo Award" may have set a standard for absurdity. So cowed has the mainstream press become over the mantra that it has a liberal bias, reporters at esteemed news organizations like the Times have reduced themselves to transcribing whatever conspiracy-of-the-week right-wing bloggers have hatched, and then pretending it actually qualifies as news.

The bloggers' latest whiff revolves around their unsupported conspiracy theory that photographers for the Associated Press who captured horrific images of urban combat inside Iraq got the shots only because they had ties to Iraqi terrorists who wanted the photos taken. When the photos won the Pulitzer Prize last week, bloggers went bonkers, accusing the photographers of "felony murder." As is their custom, bloggers, lead by Power Line, offered up zero proof to back up their libelous charge. But apparently because the bloggers make the fuss, the press feels obligated to document their anger.

In other words, right-wing bloggers say jump, and the Times says, how high? But today's lame installation is even worse than the usual because, in the second paragraph of the story, the conservative blogger behind the bogus AP charge concedes it was -- surprise! -- unfounded. Coming off last week's fiasco surrounding the Republicans' Schiavo talking points memo, in which the same right wingers (paging Power Line) wrongly concocted a conspiracy theory charging the liberal media with bias, did the Times then turn today's story into how a look at how bloggers recklessly toss around unfounded accusations?

Nope, the Times simply reports -- with a straight face -- that bloggers were upset about a Pulitzer Prize win, but now they're not. How on earth is that news? What's the next fascinating headline Times readers can expect coming off the dutiful blogger beat? "Blogs Disappointed by This Season's 'The OC.'" "Blogs Incensed Over Miss Universe Award." Or maybe, "Blogs Thinking About Ordering From Domino's"?

By Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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