Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - Credibility

Originally published September 18, 2008


Credibility is a word much bandied these days.

We are told that in this internet world where the abililty to tell a story is as simple as clicking a hyperlink, the traditional media is a refuge of credibility. We are assured the layers of "editorial processes" is a vanguard against myth and rumor. We are told that those who use their actual names as opposed to pen names are more trustworthy. We are told many things.

Yesterday, Atlanta Journal Constitution Assistant Editorial Page Editor Jim Wooten published a story regarding the hacking of Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's email indicating that "sleazy political operatives are so unnerved by the prospect that Palin lit a fire under Republicans and is drawing more women and Independents to McCain that they’re willing to break the law". No evidence is given. No elucidation follows. These political operatives are never identified.

In fact, it was already known the apparent hacker boasted his deeds on an internet community known less for its politcal persuasion and more for its ability to cause chaos. This small morsel of information was ignored in order to feast on a meal of polemical vapors.

Confronted by the absence of fact in the piece, the AJC's response is no one knows the politics of the perpetrators therefore there is no factual error.

This is credibility.

In July of this year, Atlanta blogger Andre Walker reported the Democratic Party of Georgia had pressured the Georgia Association of Educators to withdraw its support of Senate candidate Rand Knight. The story was based on anonymous sources with no corroboration and quickly fell apart - forcing Walker to issue a retraction and an apology.

That same month, it was discovered Walker failed to disclose money received from a political candidate who he portrayed positively on his blog. Once again, although this time after much pressure from the Atlanta blogging community, he was forced to admit he should have acted differently.

Yesterday, Walker was quoted in an Albany Herald article alledging unrest within the Democratic Party of Georgia over the replacement of a Dougherty County School Board candidate. He indicated members of the Executive Committee were unaware of the actions of the party in the matter and presented as evidence the now familiar claims of anonymous emails and phone calls.

This is credibility.

We listen to those inhabiting the towers of higher learning warn of falsehoods and fraud. We are told about guardians of democracy. At times, these guardians whisper totemic phrases to mark that which they deem credible.

We are told many things.

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