October 4, 2004 3:33 PM PDT

Network TV bigwigs rail against bloggers

Network news anchors are taking off their gloves as they go toe to toe with Internet bloggers.

At a panel discussion sponsored by The New Yorker magazine on Saturday in New York, NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw and ABC anchor Peter Jennings lashed out at Internet bloggers in defense of CBS anchor Dan Rather, according to reports from the Associated Press and Reuters. Brokaw compared the bloggers' attacks on Rather's "60 Minutes II" report about President Bush's National Guard service to a "political jihad."

"What I think is highly inappropriate is what's going on across the Internet, a kind of political jihad," Brokaw said during a panel on which he appeared with Rather and Jennings. "It is certainly an attempt to demonize CBS News, and it goes well beyond any factual information a lot of them has, the kind of demagoguery that is unleashed out there."

Brokaw and Jennings both acknowledged that a mistake had been made in a "60 Minutes II" report questioning Bush's National Guard service, but the network news anchors also offered their support to their fellow news colleague. Neither held back their contempt for Internet bloggers, who have kept the scandal alive with thousands of posts criticizing Rather and CBS.

"I don't think you ever judge a man by only one event in his career," Jennings said. "I think the attack on CBS is an attack on mainstream media, an attack on the so-called 'liberal media.' To me, when you make a mistake, you apologize. You go back and review your standards."

Rather declined to comment on the situation, saying he had been asked not to talk about it further by news division executives while an investigation was under way.

Michael Paranzino, founder of Web site BoycottCBS.com, wasted little time responding to Brokaw's statements.

"Tom Brokaw reads the news, but does he understand it?" Paranzino said in a statement. "Jihad is not Americans demanding reforms from an arrogant and biased media. Jihad is Islamists mowing down children for sport, blowing up families at Tel Aviv cafes, and in case he forgot, terrorists sending jet airliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon."

He added: "We will not be cowed into silence by Mr. Brokaw's intemperate remarks."

"60 Minutes" aired the "Guard story" on Sept. 8. Within hours, bloggers flooded the Internet with information discrediting the story because it relied on documents that appeared to be fake. At first, CBS and Rather defended the story. But two weeks after the scandal erupted, CBS announced that it had appointed a special investigator to look into how the story was reported, and Rather issued an apology on air.

Blogs, short for Web logs, have grown in popularity over the last couple of years. Bloggers, who don't necessarily need to be professional journalists, often break news before most news agencies. But even when they aren't breaking stories, some offer opinions and their analysis of news.

Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, technology, which lets online publishers automatically send Web content to subscribers, has helped fuel the growth of blogging by giving readers a powerful tool to compile news on the fly from several sources at once.

Blogging has become so popular and such an integral part of how people consume news that both the Republican and Democratic conventions this summer reserved areas in their press boxes for political bloggers. Campaigns for Bush and presidential challenger John Kerry have posted their own blogs as a way to provide news updates and to hammer out the issues surrounding their platforms.

While some newspapers and TV networks also have launched their own Web logs, many old-guard journalists have criticized the "nonjournalist" blogs. The debate has folded into a broader discussion of how the Internet, which has dramatically changed the way people consume news over the past 10 years, should be used as a journalistic tool.

The venerable Walter Cronkite has been on record several times in the past, expressing his distaste for all things Internet. But at a Society of Professional Journalists gathering in New York last month, he went as far as to call Internet bloggers "scandalmongers," according to reports from the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review.

"I cannot understand how the Internet should have gotten so entirely oblivious to the whole theory of libel and slander," Cronkite said. "How is it possible for these people to get on the air with any allegation they want to make, any statement they want to make, as if it were true, as if they were journalists, which they are clearly not? They are scandalmongers."

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Funny Thing....
..... Walter Cronkite never would have the bloggers coming down
on him, but then he never tried to invent news. He was always
careful to be a reporter not a creator.

It's a lesson that Dan Rather should learn, if he can. But, it just
may be too late.........
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Walter was a leftist
SeeBS was a leftist organization back in the 60s.
Walter Cronkite almost single handedly lost the
vietnam war. He announced on the air that we
cannot win this war. He was the most influential
reporter the US has ever had. He liked having that power. He does not like a bunch of people he has no control over, showing up the anointed few.
If Bloggers were a few specially trained, vetted and hired workers trying to get across an agenda, the jihad may have some substance. But wait the bloggers are thousands of voices noticing the lies of the few specially trained elites.
TV is just feeling the pinch that papers got from TV 50 years ago. What goes around comes around.
Posted by swwg69 (48 comments )
Link Flag
news reporters in America
in general are a sorry lot. They report half truths and outright lies to promote headlines and I think the public is getting tired of it. If Mr. Rather can't stand the heat, maybe he had better retire... or at least get the whole truth before he opens his big mouth!
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Irony at it's best!
It would seem that the accusations of the network journalists
against the bloggers is about the biggest demonstration of irony
I have ever seen. The claim that bloggers are "scandal mongers"
and
"How is it possible for these people to get on the air with any
allegation they want to make, any statement they want to make
as if it were true, as if they were journalists which they are
clearly not?"
really makes me laugh! Do they NOT realize that is EXACTLY the
behavior THEY (network journalists, and I use that title very
loosely) participated in and started all of the Blog attacks! And
that fact is undisputed!
I have completely given up on network news since the Bush-
Gore election when I watched as each "Network" news channel
had claimed a different winner after the election polls closed. I
have not watched 30 seconds of TV news since then and I don't
plan on starting any time soon. They should all be fired at the
first sign of opinion in a report. And don't give me that BS about
I'm sorry, it was an accident. If you are so high and mighty to
deserve complete control over every news source (which they
obviously believe) you should be uncompromisingly held to
standards of perfection.
Posted by rhett121 (73 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A bad way for old anchors to go out...
Talking heads angry at bloggers for tearing apart their stories.
Funny stuff.

These angry, old white men for years reported what ever they
were told without any serious threat of critical review. Now they
are getting creamed by a new medium. Too bad. Cronkite
thinks Brokaw, Jennings, and Rather are journalists, and
bloggers are not. I call journalists folks who do serious research
and report the facts in a way I can understand.

The era of waiting for the talking head to come on TV to tell me
what the network thinks is important today is dead.


-Phil
Posted by Fill_F_Fill (443 comments )
Reply Link Flag
a medium they can't control
Their biggest problem with the Internet, bloggers, RSS, etc. is that it is a medium they can't control. In the years past, the big media companies control the air waves (tv and radio) and the screens (tv and movies). Now the Internet has freed us from their control and they don't like that. They used to be able to tell us what to think. Now, we can dissect their reportings, read all other sources and then formulate our own opinions. This is what scares them. Just look at the drop in ratings of televisions shows across the board of all the major networks. They are starting to see that people are tired of the same old re-run sitcom with a new name and the same old old-guard news "reporting" of the past. Wake up and smell the coffee.
Posted by challman (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Joy of being Oblivious to Walter Cronkite
I am a stickler for words and have to object to the term "venerable Walter Cronkite" when adjectives like dubious or questionable are available, I would even settle for "avuncular", since Mr. Cronkite is and air headed, empty suit of the warm fuzzy variety.

In any event, I find Mr. Cronkite no more venerable than Mr. Rather. (Mark Twain is venerable, though he'll probably shoot me for saying so when I pass the "News Hour" with him this evening enriching my mind with his essays instead of polluting it with media double think.)

Lest I be accused of libel for calling media reporting double think, let me cite conclusive evidence of the charge in a direct quote from Cronkite in the very article that is under review.

Mr. Cronkite expresses bewilderment that internet bloggers are oblivious to issues of libel. His solution is quash free speech. I'm just a high yellow, red neck; but it seems to me that Mr. C is oblivious to issues of free speech. Clearly Mr. C is not concerned that bloggers don't meet up to standards that commercial media claims to obey. His concern is that we are oblivious to his cronies' right to monopolize channels of free speech. I'm sure that this venerable libertarian would support legislation to make it illegal to practice blogging without a license- granted, for a small daily subscription fee, by his cronies, of course.

The term demonize is used correctly. The 3rd meaning given for it at dictionary.com is, "to represent as evil or diabolic". But it is not pejorative if it is applied to, say, the devil; or to an egomaniacal liar like Dan Rather. That's just reporting.

I have a personal axe to grind here. I am Larry Ward, alleged wannabe president slayer and general boogie man. Mr. Bush's Secret Service (SS) has quashed the warrant for my arrest having failed to find a shred of evidence to support the charge that I menaced, or even threatened, or even as much as thought, to menace the President. Even the SS had to concede that my presence in Washington State, on the West Coast. at the time they were blocking off 7th Avenue on the East coast, made the charges ludicrous. But they have not reported quashing the arrest warrant to abait the media witch hunt.

Fox News contacted me and offered a 5 minute spot on the 11:00 o'clock news. Fox News apparatchik Porter Berry (and Mr. Cronkite can confirm this by inquiring at Porter.Berry@FoxNews.com) took down all the facts in a cordial, telephone interview on 9-27-04. That evening, one Ms. Jackie Gurtz quashed the facts and had a secretary call, "ostensibly to inform me that they had run out of time that and I could not be heard. Ms Gurtz did manage to find a few minutes to slip in a hatchet job, and hatchet job, and play an excerpt that, taken out of context is demonizing, from my "Honky Rap for the 4th of July" CD.

Perhaps the venerable Mr. Cronkite, out of his deep concern for issues of libel, will now step forward to indict Ms. Gurtz and Fox News, not to mention Mr. Bush's SS, for being oblivious to these issues.

Larry Ward - AWPSAGBM
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