Rupert Murdoch clings to Memogate glory

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

In comments that have generated lots of buzz online, Murdoch recently blamed the press for its own woes and declared that newspapers faced a glorious future. We'll see how that pans out.

But we were belatedly struck by Murdoch's comments about bloggers, and how the mainstream media has, he said, foolishly, and arrogantly, dismissed their work. On that, we're in heated agreement. But the shining example that Murdoch used to praise bloggers and shame the press was laughable, not to mention woefully out of date: 2004's Memogate.

Here's CNET's account:

To make his point, Murdoch criticized the media reaction after bloggers debunked a "60 Minutes" report by former CBS anchor, Dan Rather, that President Bush had evaded service during his days in the National Guard.

"Far from celebrating this citizen journalism, the establishment media reacted defensively. During an appearance on Fox News, a CBS executive attacked the bloggers in a statement that will go down in the annals of arrogance. '60 Minutes,' he said, was a professional organization with 'multiple layers of checks and balances.' By contrast, he dismissed the blogger as 'a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.' But eventually it was the guys sitting in their pajamas who forced Mr. Rather and his producer to resign.

First as a side note, CNET's reporting is a bit shaky. Bloggers did not "debunk" Dan Rather's report that Bush evaded National Guard service. Nobody has debunked that, because it happens to be true. (Bush was a no-show for almost two solid years.) What the bloggers did was raise questions about the documents in Rather's report.

Secondly, Murdoch's claim that "the establishment media" did not toast the right-wing bloggers back in in 2004 is pure fantasy. The press, always anxious to prove its non-liberal ways to rightwing critics, nearly tripped over itself toasting the media-hating bloggers. (Time named one Memogate site its Blog of the Year.)

Third, it's a curious time for Murdoch to be celebrating the bloggers' work attacking CBS when so many questions are being raised about the "independent" panel the network appointed to investigate the story.

And fourth, wasn't it Fox News' favorite governor, Sarah Palin, who just last week also accused bloggers of being irresponsible and typing away in their pajamas?

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