Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Palin Brings "Bloggers in Pajamas" Back into the Limelight

Not everyone is a fan of new media. Back in September 2004, Jonathan Klein, then a former CBS News exec, defended Dan Rather's 60 Minutes segment about George W. Bush's lack of National Guard service during the Vietnam War by observing that, "You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at '60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing." Klein, who would soon be appointed CNN/USA President, was attacking the conservative bloggers who were attacking Rather and CBS, and although I thought then and now that CBS and Rather were right to run that story, I certainly didn't agree with Klein's myopic "analysis" of blogging. Given the power and reach of the Internet, and the way all kinds of information can become available in all sorts of unexpected ways, it struck me then that pajamas and basements were no impediments to the pursuit and publication of truth.

That's obviously much more the case today. But the "bloggers in pajamas" meme lives on, not just as a justifiably sarcastic comment on Klein's 2004 statement and any like-minded old media worshipers still among us, and the name of a successful online news venue (Pajamas Media), but ... somehow, unsurprisingly, in that special lingo of none other than Sarah Palin, who last night told Greta Van Susteren on Fox that a lot of the media's negative stories about her were due to their reporting on the basis of "some blogger, probably sitting there in their parents' basement, wearing pajamas, blogging some kind of gossip, or a lie".

Now, in Klein's defense in 2004, new media were much newer then than they are now. The Huffington Post, YouTube, and Twitter didn't even exist yet, and Facebook was just a few months old. Palin's attack is thus much more ludicrous than Klein's, because it ignores the massively greater and diverse sources of information that any blogger can call upon today.

But facts seem beyond Palin's grasp or interest, whether in real world or online geography. And the irony is that her worst moment with the media in the campaign just concluded came not from a blogger in pajamas, but from well-dressed Katie Couric on mainstream CBS, who asked Sarah Palin what newspapers she read, and she couldn't name a single one.

Maybe she was getting her news from some blog...

Palin about bloggers

more of the Palin interview on Fox
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