This past Thursday, New York Times op-ed page editor Michael Newman invited us to submit a 200-word item for the Times’s election-day op-ed page:
On the page we hope to have an eclectic group of bloggers saying what they think was the most important event or moment of the campaign just past. Ideally, of course, this will be something you posted a lot about, or got a lot of comments about, although it could also be something whose importance became clear only in retrospect. You should have posted at least one item about it, however…
Newman gave us a deadline of 9:00 a.m. this morning to submit our piece. We begged for additonal time to consider this knotty question, but Newman held us to the deadline. If only we’d had a little more time, we probably could have come up with something a little less self-aggrandizing. In any event, here’s what we settled on after four-days’ thought:
The most important event of the campaign was the exposure of documents cited by “60 Minutes” in its report on President Bush’s Air National Guard service as fraudulent. We participated in this exposure by asking our readers for information relevant to the documents’ authenticity, and then by organizing and disseminating the information we received on topics like the typewriters of the early 1970’s and arcane points of military protocol in the same era.
We posted our observations about the “60 Minutes” documents on the morning of Sept. 9, the day after Dan Rather’s report was broadcast. We updated the posting through the day as new information came in from readers. Within 12 hours, more than 500 other Web sites had linked to ours, millions of people were aware of the serious questions that had been raised about CBS’s documents, and CBS News executives were on the defensive.
When it became clear within a few days that the documents were indeed forged, it was widely recognized that journalism had changed forever. Never again will the mainstream news media be able to dictate the flow of information to the American people.
DEACON adds: Good choice, Trunk. If Kerry loses, though, I think the work of the Swiftvets will rate plenty of consideration.
HINDROCKET adds: In case it isn’t obvious, the Trunk is kidding. We didn’t beg for more time and never considered writing about anything except our own Hurricane Dan experience. But I have to agree with Deacon: if Bush wins, chief credit goes to the Vets. Still, I like to think we played a small part, too.