One of the problematic issues regarding blogs, both liberal and conservative, is the blurred line between journalism and personal “diaries.” Often, in the most extreme situations, such as the War in Iraq and post Katrina New Orleans, individual bloggers on the ground provide much of the information that reaches the outside world.

The reasons for this are three fold: first, modern communications are like modern electricity. Integrated and networked into grids, it becomes relatively easy for the primary means of communication like phones, cell phones, and the internet to be knocked out for days and weeks across wide areas.

Second, mobility for media members in a war zone or disaster area is greatly hampered, if not outright impossible. For instance, we have seen that media members in Iraq are a primary target of personal attacks and kidnappings. Thus, the first hand knowledge of events by the media is almost completely lost.

Third, the requirements of journalistic ethics coupled with problems of mobility and communications, make reporting about modern warfare and disasters a tortuously slow, even impossible task for the media.

Into this breach step individual bloggers at the scene who “report” what they see in a “(wo)man on the street” fashion.

Of course, there is no way for readers to ascertain the veracity of these posts, or even if the “(wo)man on the street” is even really on THAT street.

One can easily imagine a  creative blogger sitting in his or her living room a thousand miles away, armed with media reports and perhaps some personal knowledge of the disaster area, transmitting post upon post across the internets from afar about the disaster which they are “seeing” “first hand.”

I am not suggesting or accusing anyone here of practicing this type of trickery, only that it would seem a very simple feat for someone to perform.

And anyway, that is not my point. Moulitsas claims no responsibility for the content of the diaries posted on his blog, yet he appears to be endorsing some over others by elevating some to the front page or the recommended reading list. I would guess BooMan follows the same philosophy.

Whether this position is legally tenable is beyond my knowledge, however, even if not legally responsible for content, community blog owners are most certainly ethically and morally responsible for their “sanctioning” of certain diary content by placement on the website, ie main page or recommended list.

I am not sure that community weblogs such as this one break much new or worthwhile information. I am sure that they seize upon certain issues and echo them loudly enough, building momentum in a populist groundswell which eventually forces mainstream media attention upon the issue.
Fine and dandy. The liberal blogosphere is often compared with conservative talk radio because both seize upon certain issues in certain ways and feed them through their “bases” to the mainstream media, or into the mainstream political discussion.

However, as we all know, the “facts” presented on the conservative talk radio are often simple propoganda.
It is not a stretch to assume that much of the “facts” echoing through the liberal blogosphere are no less propogandistic.

The problem comes to roost when the “facts” echoing around both on the right and left begin to compete with reality for attention. Even worse, when the “facts” lead to misguided action or inaction.

A story has been posted today on the NY times website (do I really need to link it?) which points out that several weeks after events reported on the ground in the media and echoed throughout the land by both left and right echo chambers much of the “reported” horrors at the Superdome, Convention Center and elsewhere were either urban myths, or blown up so large as to be completely out of sync with reality.

Big deal, you might say? We need to expand the political discussion, so lets play this opportunity for all it is worth, you might say, in order to gain political advantage?

Again, fine and dandy, but the NYT story also points out a dark syde to the echoing of propoganda. It now turns out that many of the “reported” facts actually hampered and in some cases stopped the immediate evacuation and relief efforts by authorities because of the “reported” dangers.

For instance, you remember that the first attempts to pluck victims off roofs by helicopter were stopped for a day because it was reported that one helicopter was under fire from the ground.

Guess what? Now investigators confirm the helicopter was NOT under fire. Thats just one example of many in this article where the myths and exaggerations of the truth got in the way of rescue efforts, at best causing delays and at worst costing people their lives.

The liberal blogosphere has a responsibility to the truth. It is not okay, in my opinion, for liberals to excuse lies because they are uttered by victims, or because the conservatives lie all the time too.

I have read this blog with a great deal of interest because the writing is higher quality than most and the members seemingly more willing to engage in real debate than most. I post here once in a while, but not anywhere else. I admire many contributors words, thoughts and sentiments.

However, I noticed during the Katrina crisis there seemed to be a willingness on the part of many in the liberal blogging community to suspend disbelief, and in fact actively and knowingly engage in the echoing of rumors and innuendo because it suited perceived social and political ends.

I am a college student. I am apolitical because I do not trust either the right or left in this country. Both are absolutely corrupted. I vote green or I dont vote. Period.

I would say my social views fall a lot more in line with the views on the left, but I am saddened to see the blogging left follow the same path to corruption of the truth which the right has used to enrich their rule by taking our once great nation down the slippery slope towards an Orwellian nightmare.

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