LIBERAL BLOGGERS DON'T WANT TO DESTROY THE "MSM" -- THEY WANT TO MAKE IT BETTER. Just about everyone in the lefty blogosphere has taken a swing at Mike McCurry's piece over at The Huffington Post, and now it's my turn. In case you missed it, McCurry wrote that he knows reporters -- and Pulitzer Prize winners, at that -- who feel "intimidated" because "most of the blogosphere spends hours making them feel that way."
There are a few striking misconceptions here worth unpacking. The first is the notion that anyone in the press would see it as "intimidating" that people are scrutinizing his or her work. An unnamed reporter wrote in to Josh Marshall claiming that death threats and all sorts of other horrors descend on any media figure fingered by bloggers. That may be, and it's unfortunate that some Web denizens give ammo to critics of the Internet by doing such things. But the fact remains that any serious reporter should see the added scrutiny not as a threat, but as an enhancement of his or her professionalism. No question -- it is more than a little frightening that readers now can suddenly broadcast a journalist's mistakes far and wide via the Internet. But enduring a bit of scrutiny is a pretty small price to pay for the privilege of being a reporter.
And that leads to the second misconception: Though liberal bloggers are routinely accused of harboring destructive impulses towards the big news orgs, the truth is that most left-leaning bloggers actually want them to be stronger, and better. Sites like Media Matters are practically begging the MSM to give readers more context; more accuracy; more resistance to spin. Establishment media figures -- not to mention self-declared arbiters of good journalism such as Deborah Howell -- routinely look down on liberal bloggers because they supposedly lack journalistic standards. But those same liberal bloggers are actually the ones who are most vocal in demanding that the big news orgs live up to the high standards they profess to have for themselves.