Blogs — The New Investigative Journalism

As the firing of 8 US Attorneys for what appears to be purely political reasons begins to smell more and more like a Watergate-esque showdown between the Executive and Legislative branches, it’s fascinating to note that with complete dismantling of true journalism in the mainstream media, the role of investigation has been turned over to the bloggers.

Of course, this means that not many people know about what the bloggers uncover, because it has to reach a viral level before the mainstream media dinosaur bothers to comment about it.

As an example, here are some things uncovered by blogs in the past few days, which, if they were being reported by the media, would be major headlines:

There is an 18-day gap in the emails provided to Congress by the Justice Department in the “document dump.” 18 days! A gap between November 15th and December 4th of last year — which includes the period when the plan for firing the attorneys was put into place, and when the calls firing them were actually made. As Talking Points Memo (the blog I’ve linked here) says, shades of Rose Mary Woods (Nixons secretary, who claimed to have ‘accidentally’ erased 18 1/2 minutes of the Watergate tapes during transcription).

The Right-wingers are all over the news talking about how the Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, and how it’s normal, etc. The big hammer they keep hitting, naturally, is “Clinton did it too.” Of course, the mainstream media gives them their platform, and never challenges any statement made by them. The blogs do — ThinkProgress did some actual journalistic research and discovered that of the 468 US Attorneys confirmed by Congress over the past 25 years, only 10 left office involuntarily. In other words, the Bush administration fired almost as many U.S. Attorneys in December as had been let go over the past 25 years.

To be fair, not all in the mainstream media have gone down the Fox News/CNNTimeAOL Infotainment route. The ones that broke Watergate — The Washington Post — have been doing their job, but have been largely ignored. For example, their examination of the “document dump” noted that U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald was ranked among prosecutors who had “not distinguished themselves” on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005. Coincidentally (I’m sure), at the time he was in the middle of leading the CIA leak investigation that resulted in the perjury conviction of Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, “Scooter” Libby. But he hadn’t “distinguished himself”, and was ranked below U.S. Attorneys who were “loyal.”

So — if any of your non-blog-reading friends mention the scandal, make sure they get these little nuggets of information. It’s not like they’re going to hear about it on the evening news.