Blogging the Libby Trial: OTB and MBA on CNN

I was interviewed a week ago by CNN’s Jacki Schechner about the Media Bloggers Association getting credentials for the Scooter Libby trial. The segment appeared Tuesday on “American Morning.” Matt Sheffield of NewsBusters captured the video for me and I uploaded it to YouTube:

Not a particularly scintillating performance, unfortunately. I’m not on television much and Jacki was interviewing me via telephone and I was staring at a predesignated spot on a pole, so it was an awkward experience.

The basic thrust of the report was that little old bloggers are covering the trial just like the Professional Reporters but that we are just people with opinions and don’t have a vetting process like the Professional Reporters at Prestigious Media Companies like CNN.

As I told them during the 89 minutes or so we talked and they didn’t use, that’s a silly dichotomy.

For one thing, the thrust of the Media Bloggers Association is to organize and credential bloggers through a peer review process. MBA president Robert Cox managed to get us credentials precisely because he was able to persuade the court that they would be dealing with mature people who had established an audience, not random yahoos keeping a diary about their cat on the Internet.

More importantly, bloggers aren’t in competition with the mainstream press except in the sense that people’s time is finite. Blogs feature a dialog between writers and their readership community, whereas mainstream reporting is top-down and authoritarian.

I’ll be attending and covering the trial Monday through Thursday of next week, along with Murray Waas, a National Journal online reporter who will be blogging for Crooks and Liars. Jacki asked what we’ll add to the coverage, given that dozens of other journalists who are trained reporters will be there. A small snippet from my answer appears in the video clip. Neither of us are likely to break any big news stories missed by the media. Then again, as I pointed out, neither will CNN. What we’ll add to the process is different perspectives, real-time observations, and a chance for readers to post comments and maybe get some questions answered.

This isn’t blogger triumphalism. I don’t think we’re going to CHANGE THE WORLD in some major way by being there, much less put the mainstream media out of business. Then again, I have no desire to do those things, either in the case of this trial in particular or the blog in general. I’m going because I think it’ll be interesting, provide something unique to discuss with my readers, and generally be a lot of fun. But that’s pretty much why I do this every other day, too.

UPDATE: CNN’s Abbi Tatton covered this for “The Situation Room” on Monday the 15th. She has screenshots of several participating blogs, including this one, but it’s just a narrative without any clips of blogger interviews.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I think what the bloggers bring is diversity. Not in a gene pool lottery sort of diversity, but in a different life experience and philosophy diversity. Part of the reason all the MSM coverage will be the same is that it all is coming through a filter that is remarkable uniform in its life experience and philosophy.

    Further, the blogger with comments is an interactive medium that allows for more shading of what goes on. The ‘army of Davids’ reviewers of the blog (aka readers) can ask questions and point out inconsistencies that add to the overall report. There is no magic in blogging that couldn’t be replicated in the MSM except for the internal mindset of the MSM.

    From a previous thread, I’ll extend the car analogy. Japan didn’t have better raw materials to make cars with, they made better cars. They also could make them cheaper even though they had an inherent barrier in having to ship them over a large ocean. Access to the news that is happening is like access to raw materials. Once both bloggers and MSM have equal access (which is likely to be a long way off for most news stories), then like Detroit vs Tokyo, the issue is how you shape the raw resource.

  2. Jeff says:

    Congrats James!!

  3. Scott_T says:

    Oh please, WE all know you are doing this for you wife. So she can claim that she’s married to a TV star. 😉