I have friends involved in this so let me choose my words carefully. I’m not saying it wasn’t worth doing. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing; as with pizza, there’s no such thing as a “bad” blog scandal. Alls I’m saying is, how does it compare?
Let’s look back.
1. Trent Lott (2002). Then Senate Majority Leader, Lott tells the crowd at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party that “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years” if Thurmond had been elected president in 1948. Minor detail: Thurmond ran on a segregationist platform. Dick factor: For obliquely endorsing separate-but-equal? Stratospheric. Degree of difficulty: Low. He said it, bloggers quoted it. Body count: Lott resigned as Majority Leader two weeks later. Blog triumphalism quotient: Put blogs on the map and scalped one of the most powerful politicians in the country. Convinced Sullivan he could bring down anyone if he just kept at it long enough. Style points: Remains the only bipartisan blogswarm. Overall: 8.5.
2. Rathergate (2004). CBS obtains ludicrous forgeries about Bush’s national guard service from a hard-left, possibly deranged former guardsman — and airs them on 60 Minutes II ten weeks before the presidential election. Dick factor: Are you kidding? Degree of difficulty: Not that high, really. Great reams of pixels expended on typefaces and fonts and kerning, and almost all of it utterly superfluous. Body count: Several news execs, including producer Mary Mapes, say bye-bye to black rock. Rather is eased out a few years later and promptly takes a job with HDNet, where he’s finally free to be the Edward R. Murrow he always knew he was, or something. Blog triumphalism quotient: Awesome:
On Web sites such as Powerline, INDC Journal, Allahpundit, and Spacetownusa, the bravehearts of the blogging world worked anonymously in what appeared to be huge numbers, in unison, to destroy the Bush-Guard story, to uphold one another’s wild and hateful claims, to outshout, outargue, and outblog anyone who dared to disagree. And on their Web sites there is no disagreement. They hate in unison, they speak with one angry voice, they each make themselves bigger by staying as close together as possible.
Awesome. And true to form, inaccurate: neither Powerline nor INDC nor Spacetown featured anonymous bloggers. Style points: The day after the scandal broke, dKos diarist “hunter” proved with Queegian geometric logic that the memos were probably authentic. Overall: The gold standard. 10.0.
3. Jeff Gannon (2005). Alleged gay hooker Jim Guckert somehow obtains day passes to the White House press briefings, sometimes on behalf of Talon News/GOPUSA and sometimes not, and tosses softballs at Scott McClellan. This scandalously demonstrates that either (a) the Secret Service isn’t vetting people real closely, (b) Gannon/Guckert has special access for some unknown but undoubtedly seamy reason, or (c) he’s an administration plant whose job is to feed easy questions to the press secretary. Dick factor: Literally — lefty bloggers uncover what they claim are photos of Gannon showing off his erect schwanz. Degree of difficulty: I do recall a bit of sleuthing being involved here, and not only of the Google variety. Didn’t they track down one of Gannon’s web designers to corroborate that he owned an escort site? Am I imagining that? Regardless, it takes no small amount of mental agility to believe that Rove would choose an alleged gay hooker for an operation as sensitive as infiltrating the press corps. Body count: Gannon resigned from Talon News two weeks after the scandal broke. Blog triumphalism quotient: V-J Day for the left, mostly to compensate for being in the dugout during Rathergate. Kind of sad, kind of endearing. Style points: Gannon told an audience in New York recently that he knows of married Democrats “who play with their boys in D.C.” when their wives are out of town. Overall: We caught the anchor of the CBS Evening News, they caught an alleged gay hooker. 4.0.
4. Eason Jordan (2005). CNN’s chief news executive accuses U.S. troops of murdering 12 journalists in the course of remarks made at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Dick factor: As big as they come: two years earlier, Jordan admitted in an op-ed that CNN had chosen not to report atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein lest their access to Baghdad be jeopardized. Degree of difficulty: Somewhat more than Lott since the tape of Jordan’s remarks was never publicly released. Body count: Jordan resigned from CNN two weeks after Rony Abovitz broke the story. Blog triumphalism quotient: Sky high coming only four months after Rathergate. Alas, it would be the right’s last great blog scandal. Style points: Began and ended at almost exactly the same time as the Gannon scandal. Overall: We caught the chief news executive of CNN, they caught an alleged gay hooker. 7.0.
5. Ben Domenech (2006). A co-founder of Red State and editor at Regnery, Domenech is tapped by WaPo to write a right-wing blog for the paper’s website. Outraged by this absence of balance in the mainstream media, ahem, lefty bloggers set out to dig up whatever dirt they can. They don’t have to dig deep: as quickly becomes clear, he’s a serial plagiarist of long standing. Dick factor: Not only did Domenech initially deny the charges, he blamed his editors for inserting the plagiarized passages into his writing. Degree of difficulty: Nothing a little Google couldn’t handle. Body count: Domenech resigned three days after launching the WaPo blog. Jim Brady, the site’s executive editor and foremost object of lefty wrath as betrayer of the cause, survived. Blog triumphalism quotient: V-E day, which I can sort of understand: they disciplined their media puppy and took out a right-winger in one fell swoop. Not a bad day’s work. Plus, they’re not used to winning. Style points: Red State commenters blindly loyal to Domenech declare that the Malkin thing is so over after Michelle writes a post concluding that, yeah, BD probably did plagiarize. Overall: 5.5.
6. Michael Hiltzik (2006). After months of sparring with Baquet bete noire Patterico, LA Times blogger/Pulitzer-winner Hiltzik calls up comment-section reinforcements in the form of himself posting under other names. Dick factor: Hiltzik was suspended by the paper in 1993 for hacking into his co-workers’ e-mails accounts. A work emergency? Nope. He was “nosy and curious,” according to a colleague. Degree of difficulty: IPs, screencaps, and timestamps. Difficulty is/was inversely proportional to diligence. Body count: Hiltzik’s blog was shut down, he was suspended without pay, and ultimately banished to the sports section — thus proving that, coupled with his little snooping problem, there’s really no way to get fired from the Times. Blog triumphalism quotient: Surprisingly low. Style points: Hiltzik once compared right-wing criticism of the Times to Stalinist show trials. Overall: He wasn’t a politician, he wasn’t a news executive, he was just a dick prone to pettiness. It’s a close call vis-a-vis Domenech, but sock-puppetry is, or should be, a venial sin. Plagiarism is mortal. 5.0.
7. Students Against War (2006). Morons at UC-Santa Cruz organize a protest of military recruiters on campus and publish a “press” release on their website featuring their e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Michelle reproduces the information, and SAW begins receiving harassing messages. Lefties seize the pretext and respond by posting her home address and phone number — along with photos of, and directions to, her house. Dick factor: Posting treasure maps for stalkers does tend to peg the dickometer. Degree of difficulty: I’ve never stalked anyone so I’m not sure. Not nearly as difficult as it should be, I suspect. Body count: None, thankfully. Blog triumphalism quotient: Negative. Several prominent lefty bloggers, including Kos, actually deleted MM’s contact information after it was posted in their comments section. Style points: Embattled UC-Santa Cruz Chancellor Denice Denton commits suicide in June, prompting enlightened libertarian Dave Weigel to accuse Michelle of having driven her to it by once posting her office phone number. And that’s why they call it “Reason.” Overall: 3.0.
8. Glenn Greenwald (2006). A bona fide nutroots hearthrob, Greenwald rises through the nutroots ranks thanks to his magical mix of turgid, dreary rants about creeping fascism and hysterical polemics against right-wing bloggers. His posts draw predictable responses from righties and equally predictable comments from various lefty trolls — many of whom, curiously, turn out to be posting from Greenwald’s own computer, using syntax similar to his own, within ten minutes or so of comments left by him on other sites. How would a patriot act? Evidently by moving to another hemisphere and operating a different sock puppet with each limb. Dick factor: Wet himself over a righty blogger’s reference to lynching Supreme Court justices after having once dismissed neo-Nazi Matt Hale’s threats against a federal judge as mere “heated [political] rhetoric.” Hale was later convicted of soliciting the judge’s murder. Degree of difficulty: IPs, screencaps, and timestamps, although more blogs were involved here than with Hiltzik so points for coordination. Body count: None. Proof of malfeasance won’t bother his fans. If anything, the antagonism might help him move a few more copies of the book. Blog triumphalism quotient: Negative. Style points: Russ Feingold once quoted Greenwald on the floor of the Senate, a fact which the various commenters who are definitely, 100% not Glenn Greenwald seem to enjoy mentioning. Overall: Fun and gratifying but without a scalp, a victory dance, or malevolent weirdness a la Michelle’s stalkers, there’s just not enough meat on the bone. Neck and neck with the SAW scandal but in the end it’s just a tad too provincial. Although if Greenwald posts the blueprints to Patterico’s house or something, this one could take off like a rocket. 2.5.
Update: Patterico, from the comments:
We’re not done, baby. Give it a couple of days for me to tie it all together.
The post is well on its way to being done, and it will be fun. I plan to keep it lighthearted, but I’ll set it all out.
Wait until then to pass judgment.