The line between blogs and the mainstream media blurs a bit more, and the question about the circumstances in which a reporter carries the authority of his organization becomes a bit more topical, as Dana Milbank engages in an interview with SusanG of the Daily Kos. The interview was picked up by Editor & Publisher, which highlighted this:
NEW YORK Washington Post staff writer Dana Milbank, a former White House correspondent, tells a leading blog there remains reason to believe that, contrary to statements from the White House, ex-reporter James “Jeff Gannon” Guckert, may had a "hard" (long-term) press pass rather than a daily pass.
Milbank said on Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show last week that he thought he had seen Guckert/Gannon with a hard pass. Both the disgraced ex-reporter for Talon News and White House press Secretary Scott McClellan have denied this.
But Milbank affirmed, in an interview posted today at the popular blog Daily Kos, “A hard pass has your photo and news org and name on it. A daily pass is just a brown and white striped pass that says, ‘Press,’ on it and comes on a dog-tag style chain. Note that the one Gannon wears in the footage on TV is a blue lanyard - not the sort of thing a day pass comes on.”
Well, substance first, theory later - there is a hard-working and ever-hopeful chap at America's Blog, who has been a leader in the charge against "Jeff Gannon". And he is tossing in the towel on what he thought was photographic evidence that "Gannon" had a hard pass. My two cents worth of pop psychology? "Jeff Gannon" just may have been a bit of a poseur; maybe he wore some other laminated ID to give himself the "hard pass" look. You know, hard passes for the hard cases, a little something to impress the hot chick/guy down the hall at the copy room, go figure.
But keep hope alive, Lost Kossites! The Valerie Plame connection fizzled, the hard pass story is softening a bit - Be Not Of Faint Heart! The Truth Is Out There! Waaay Out There! Further - And A Bit More To The Left!
(Look, the normal rule is that when your opponent is digging himself into a hole, stand back. But I worry that their process of unrelenting auto-marginalization may grow wearisome. I want to exhort them a bit, cheer them on, hand them a shovel...)
Stay with it, Kossites! Dig a bit more deeply for the truth. Look - is that a gleam of gold in the dirt there? Or perhaps it is a glint of diamond? You're almost there! Guckert, Ho!
OK, perhaps that will help to inspire them. Now, as to the Milbank interview - what are the journalistic standards here? Daniel Okrent wondered about the same thing a few weeks back, in the context of NY Times reporter Judith Miller appearing on a television show, saying "you would have every reason to think she was speaking with the authority of the paper".
Well, did Dana Milbank speak with the authority of the Washington Post when he chatted with Keith Olbermann last week, or (by e-mail) with SusanG recently? If so, why has the Post not broken this story that the White House may be lying about the day pass for Gannon - I find no mention of it there, yet I see it at E&P.
Or is Dana Milbank using Olbermann and the Daily Kos as an outlet for the innuendo and speculation he can't quite slide past his editors? If this becomes an accepted practice it will make sympathetic blogs quite a helpful forum for reporters - Rep. Louise Slaughter recycled the Daily Kos speculation about the Valerie Plame connecton; depending on her stomach for embarrassment, she may be delighted to recycle this, especially since she has already filed a FOIA request on Guckert's security status.
And after the Congresswoman recycles this allegation (if she is inclined to do so), Dana Milbank can go back to his editor and insist that something be reported, since it is now in the news. Well done - an echo chamber all one's own.
We catch a hint of this in the final Q&A with SusanG of the Daily Kos:
Can you foresee any circumstances in which mainstream media and blogs could join forces for the benefit of both mediums?
I think there will have to be convergence. I'd like to know how you, and your readers, think this could best be done. Some of us have thought about the idea of doing a daily blog report, summarizing what the top blogs are saying and assessing the accuracy/significance. but that's just a small item.
I would say the convergence is developing nicely.
Now, is there any reason that a righty blogger could not bag an interview with a Dana Milbank, or any of a number of well-known journalists? You tell me. But I will tell you this - you can not beat innuendo, rumor, and speculation out of someone.
For example, PURELY HYPOTHETICALLY, it may be that Dana Milbank is aware of at least twenty reporters who knew about "The Ambassador and the Spy" long before Novak broke the Plame/Wilson connection. Well, if he has not come forward with that tidbit yet, is he going to tell me just because I ask? Doubtful.
Will he tell me about the inner workings of the WaPo editorial process during the Swift Boat summer? The WaPo had one good story (if you get past the phony headline), and lost interest, never pounding the table and calling on Kerry to sign his Form 180 - what are the odds of Dana Milbank telling me why?
Reporters making news by planting stories with friendly liberal blogs is a bit of a new wrinkle in the blog/media relationship - we thought Matt Drudge occupied that niche. We await developments.
MORE: My ever-optimistic spell-check thinks "Daniel Okrent" should be "Daniel Orient". Well, I'm sure he is trying to.
UPDATE: D'oh - "hard passes for the hard asses". Much better.
LASTLY: File under "Explaining Everything, and Nothing" - the Times brings us up to (their) speed on Gannon, fills us in on hard passes, and lowers the cone of silence over their first attempt to cover this story - no mention or follow up on their earlier lead, which was that Gannon had a connection to the Valerie Plame leak probe, and that Congressman Conyers and Slaughter had called for an investigation.