The Washington Post hints as strongly as it can that the blogosphere’s counterattack against the Killian memos began at the White House.
In another development, the Los Angeles Times reported that an Atlanta lawyer with conservative Republican connections posted the first Web log entry questioning the authenticity of the CBS documents less than four hours after the initial broadcast on “60 Minutes.” The paper identified Harry W. MacDougald as the “Buckhead,” who became a hero of conservative Web sites after pointing out technical problems with the documents, such as fonts and proportionate spacing.
MacDougald declined to say how he learned about the problems with the documents so early. In addition to being released by CBS, copies of the documents were e-mailed by the White House to reporters as “60 Minutes” went on the air.
It’s unlikely that we’ll ever know quite what happened, but it seems highly plausible to me that the White House is communicating with bloggers to spin the news. We already know that the White House’s Internet Director thinks that blogs are pretty important. Equally, I’d be very surprised if people in the Democratic party aren’t communicating with some bloggers in order to try to get their spin across (if they aren’t, they’re bad at their job). As Kieran said a couple of days ago, there is a mythology of the blogger that sees him (or more rarely, her) as a lone hero speaking truth to power (or the “New York Times” as the best local approximation). The reality is murkier. To the extent that blogs help set the agenda for the media, pols have an incentive to spin the blogs, just as they have good reason to spin reporters. Blogs aren’t critiquing the system from outside – they’re increasingly part of the system. Expect more of this over time, not less.