Rove Indictment Blogswarm

WSJ has a lengthy treatment of the blogswarm that started Friday when an Internet reporter, Jason Leopold, claimed that he had inside sources telling him Karl Rove had already been indicted and that an announcement was imminent.

Politics, and the arguments it stirs, lends itself to the Internet. Bloggers have the latitude to issue one-sided analysis that makes leaps to connect the dots in ways that more-guarded news organizations couldn’t. The CIA leak investigation, which has hit the highest echelons of the Bush administration, has become a favorite topic for many of these sites.


Mainstream news organizations say bloggers can say something is going to happen every day for months and then claim to be ahead of the pack when it does — or forget about it when it doesn’t. Bloggers complain that traditional reporters don’t credit them for scoops when they are proved right. “It’s not that this is a completely new dynamic,” says Mark Feldstein, a journalism professor at George Washington University, who says the tabloid press used to be this type of incubator. But the Internet makes blogs “much more ubiquitous and instantaneous.”

Of course, that’s true of mainstream pundits as well — and most bloggers are pundits rather than reporters. Further, mainstream reporters print anonymously sourced rumors all the time. It should be noted, too, that Leopold has done work for mainstream outlets–including the WSJ itself.

Just as it’s ridiculous to tar a political party because a few yahoos run in their primaries, or that the existence of one proud Marine among their ranks proves that illegal aliens are all great Americans, we certainly shouldn’t celebrate or denigrate the millions of bloggers out there because of the actions of one guy.

As for this incident, as Michelle Malkin notes, “[T]hey’ve been saying Rove’s indictment was ‘imminent’ since October 2005.”

At least the responsible left is stepping away from Leopold on this one. Matt Stoler points out that “Most major bloggers are quite truthful; we don’t put out false information and when we make mistakes we correct them.” In a later post, he notes that, “Credibility matters.”

Peter Daou is chagrined by the whole thing:

One of the lowlights of this unfortunate episode – unfortunate in the sense that Rove may likely be indicted but Leopold’s story was still false and took a lot of people for fools – is the fact that it has devolved to the point where Jeff Gannon has jumped into the fray: “Jason Leopold got caught in an enormous fabrication last week when he wrote that White House advisor Karl Rove had been indicted…. What’s worse, Leopold claimed he had been set up as part of a White House “disinformation campaign.” That’s pathetic.” …Pot, meet kettle.




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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. Alan says:

    Leopold is also taking a huge hit for his report in the liberal blogsphere.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Yeah, I quoted Stoler in the post.