Trust, But Verify 2.0
In the wake of the Larry Craig story, Mike Rogers -- the blogger/activist who initially ran the accusations against the Senator -- is enjoying some serious media buzz. Take for example the profile in today's Washington Post, which opens:
Soon, a new name will pop up on Mike Rogers's hit list.To be sure, a lot is being made of Rogers' role in the Craig story as a sign of the Rise of the Bloggers, but it's also an anecdote about how traditional media still need to vet new media and verify the chatter happening online.
Larry Craig wasn't "the first on my list," the gay blogger says. And the Idaho senator, who announced his resignation Saturday, "won't be the last."
Rogers, sitting on a club chair in his Northwest Washington apartment, is basking in the attention. For three years now, he's been a feared one-man machine, "outing," he says, nearly three dozen senior political and congressional staffers, White House aides and, most damagingly, Congress members on his blog. On Capitol Hill, a typical phone call from Rogers -- "Are you gay?" he'd ask -- is "a call from Satan himself," says a former high-ranking congressional staffer whose name is on the list.
Take for example one of the tidbits in the Idaho Statesman's investigation of the whispers surrounding Senator Craig. When the article reported on the allegations being tossed into cyberspace by Rogers, the reporter noted it was impossible to confirm them:
Until Monday's report, Craig was facing a lone credible accuser. Rogers told the Statesman he had lost track of his other two sources, who he said described encounters with the senator, one in Idaho and one in Seattle. Rogers concedes he doesn't know those two sources' last names. "I was an amateur," he told the Statesman.So Rogers had some dirt – possibly valid, possibly fake – on Senator Craig and posted the information, but when pressed for additional information to confirm the accusations, could not provide last names or contact information for the people who made them. That's not a whole lot for a reporter to work with – it's not much more than Kristy Swanson could offer in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" – and helps you understand why the Idaho Statesman felt compelled to sit on this story for so long.
So at the end of the day, it's another example of today's media environment inverting Ronald Reagan's old slogan of Trust But Verify. The old media can learn some tricks – and get some scoops – from the so-called 'new media' outlets. But with the Internet being the international waters of the information age – where anything goes – they're always going to need to verify before they can trust the story.