Back on August 8th, Matt wrote a piece
that listed many of the journalists who simply repeated the Lieberman camp's assertion that their campaign went down as a result of "dirty tricks." This Robert Yoon piece from CNN is a good example of that stenography
. as documented in Matt's post and in the comments to that post, the stenography on this subject extended to, at least, the AP, the CBS Evening News, The New York Times, and MSNBC and, not surprisingly, Fox News. "Reporting" in this case was simply repeating whatever the Lieberman camp said. For example, to quote Yoon:"This type of dirty politics has been a staple of the Lamont campaign from the beginning, from the nonstop personal attacks to the intimidation tactics and offensive displays to these coordinated efforts to disable our Web site," said Smith in a statement e-mailed to reporters Monday evening.
"There is no place for these Rovian tactics in Democratic politics, and we demand that our opponent call off his supporters and their online attack dogs."
Tuesday afternoon, the Lieberman campaign formally complained to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, asking him to investigate attacks on the site.
In its letter to Blumenthal, the campaign, citing joe2006.com's Web-hosting company, said the site had been brought down due to traffic "neither natural nor done by normal site visitor volume."
When asked by CNN whether the service outage was due to an unpaid bill, Sean Smith, Lieberman's campaign manager, said "Are you kidding?"(...)
The Lieberman campaign said Tuesday in a statement: "... The the suspension of displaying the Web site www.joe2006.com was not due to to an overdue account. Friends of Joe Lieberman is completely paid in full. The screen that showed yesterday is a default image from the server. In order to isolate where the denial of service attack was coming into the site, we disabled it as rapidly as possible. Once we were able to isolate all the site files for study, we were able to add an appropriate one-page maintenance message."
As you can see, huge parts of this article were simply direct quotes from Lieberman campaign statements. I bring this up because now, to great fanfare, it turns out that such claims from the Lieberman camp were utterly inaccurate
:"The investigation has revealed no evidence the problems the Web site experienced were the result of criminal conduct," said Tom Carson, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor.
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal confirmed the joint investigation "found no evidence of tampering or sabotage warranting civil action by my office." Both men declined to provide additional information, such as what might have happened to the site.
Calls to Lieberman went unanswered yesterday.
Lieberman's site, www.joe2006.com, failed the afternoon before the Aug. 8 primary, which he lost to Lamont. Lieberman won a fourth term in November's general election as a petition candidate.
Dan Geary, who developed Lieberman's site, had classified the problem as a denial-of-service attack, which is characterized by attempts to prevent access to a site by overwhelming it.
The Web site crash received media scrutiny, fueled by comments from Lieberman and his staff who implied it had been hacked by Lamont's supporters.
A Lieberman campaign spokeswoman, Marion Steinfels, had called it a "coordinated effort to wreck our Web site and make us incapable of communicating with each other and our voters."
At this point, the only news outlets covering this latest development in the story are local outlets in New England
. With only two exceptions, one from Massachusetts and one from NYC, those outlets are all in Connecticut. No AP. No New York Times. No CNN. No MSNBC or Fox News News. Certainly no mentions of their Election Day reports that unquestioningly repeated the Lieberman camp's claim that the website was down because of an "attack."
I wonder if the news organizations that are reporting on this story will continue to press Lieberman's staff to make a statement. If such a statement comes, will it be repeated without question, or will the journalists to point to earlier claims from the Lieberman camp on the incident? Will anyone ask Lieberman's staff why they had no problem jumping to the conclusion that the website was under attack? Will anyone ask why they held at least one press conference on the story but are unwilling to comment now? Will anyone comment on this smacking of crass political maneuvering on Election Day back in August, and be less willing to simply repeat claims from the Lieberman camp in the future as a result? It would be nice if they were, but I'm not holding my breath. We have entered an era where being an "objective" and responsible journalist has little to do with actual research, and has much more to do with simply repeating, word for word, statements from campaigns. Is this environment, is it any wonder that paid media now far surpasses free media when it comes to influencing elections?
Is there anyway back to a time when journalists considered their job as being much more than just stenography?CT Blogger goes into more detail