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Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Riehl's Mea Culpa
Topic: NewsBusters

What's this? Dan Riehl telling his fellow conservative bloggers not to jump to conclusions about a media-bashing story he himself put into play? Yup:

As the originator of the Red Cross Ambulance story, I would urge the elements of the blogosphere still running with the story to at least slow down, if not back up. They are increasingly looking like the very drive by media against which we so often rant, running the risk of being exploited by propagandists on another side of an issue. And no matter how much many of us may support that side, propagandists on both sides do exist. For the record, I'm guilty, too.


How is it that someone sitting thousands of miles away can claim to know precisely what that something was or wasn't? Sorry, one can't. 

Riehl even chastises Little Green Footballs and Power Line for claiming roles in the story they don't deserve. And he throws in a bit of a mea culpa:

As I said, I'm not innocent. Today on my second anniversary, I have to cop to being as caught up as everyone else. While I moderated my posts, apparently some juvenile posting board member was impersonating S R Sidarth and, frankly, I got duped. Last night I went to jump into the Reuter's vehicle story against my better instincts and made a gaffe.


I've learned some hard lessons in two years of blogging, obviously I haven't learned them all. But the past week or two has been one for the books, let me tell ya. Hopefully it'll only make me a better blogger in the end. Either that, or I'll eventually just quit.

Once I start seeing and believing what I want to believe, as opposed to the truth - I'll have become the beast I set out to battle when I took up the keyboard in the first place. 

It reads like a guy who has learned a thing or two about jumping to conclusions. This is one thing that j-school ideally teaches (and, for the most part, does).

Conservatives like Riehl love to portray journalists as hopelessly biased and driven by the all-consuming desire to promote liberal causes and attack conservative ones. The reality is that the vast majority of workaday journalists are just trying to tell the facts as best they can. Most don't have the luxury, like bloggers, to pick and choose what they get to report on; nobody aspires to cover, say, the local city government, but a good journalist will have done that at some point. It's boring, but as a governmental building block it's important to learn how to explain its actions in a way that readers can understand. And once a journalist has figured out how to do that, it serves as an invaluable stepping stone for other journalistic endeavors.

Watergate inspired numerous aspiring journalists to enter j-school; the Dan Rather/Bush National Guard story appears to have inspired numerous conservatives to try their hand at trying at discrediting the media. As Riehl has discovered -- and most journalists already know -- agenda-driven writing is not only not what journalism is about, it's an insignificant tool in the quiver (and even then, if you prefer that, stick to being a pontificating blogger). Research skills and a good BS detector are much more important.

Hopefully, the lesson Riehl has learned here sticks -- and that other bloggers will learn from it as well.

P.S.: So, Dan, any chance that you can share you mea culpa with the folks at NewsBusters, where you made some of these faulty allegations?

UPDATE: On second read, we're not sure if Riehl is talking about the UVA discussion boards or the comments on his own blog. We're assuming he's talking about the UVA boards. If we're wrong, we'll edit accordingly.

UPDATE 2: We've added a section about Riehl's Sidarth-vulgar-words attack to the ConWebWatch article that also covers the false racism charge.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:33 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 30, 2006 1:17 AM EDT

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