updated 6/20/2005 10:07:23 AM ET 2005-06-20T14:07:23


Since our noon show I was contacted by the spokesperson from "The Downing Street Memo."  I reported today that Rep. Conyers of Michigan was a sponsor of the website, information that has actually been reported in several other places.  Bob Fesmire of the site offers this:

I am writing to correct a mistake that is making its way around the Internet, namely that our site is sponsored by or created by John Conyers' office.

This is not the case. DSM.com was created by three concerned citizens who met through theDailyKos blog.  Our team has since grown to a whopping seven people--all of whom have day jobs--but we are still not connected to any particular politician, organization or political party.

Thanks for writing in, Bob.

5 p.m. ET
We've been kicking around an interesting angle on the Aruba story that we'll bring to air today in our 5pm ET edition.  While we continue to monitor the search for a missing teen, we realize this story sounds like so many we've covered before:  Dru Sjodin, Elizabeth Smart, Laci Peterson, Jennifer Wilbanks.

Some critics have made the argument that the tie that binds these stories is not the nature of the disappearances or the extraordinary nature of the crimes, but rather the fact that all the missing women are white, fair, pretty and young.  That the tragic end to a fairy tale motivates the media coverage.

Regarding Natalee Holloway, the girl missing in Aruba, our own boss Mark Effron has said to "USA Today" that "When the Aruba story broke, I didn't know if she was white."  Rather he said it was every parent's nightmare and that is what made the story compelling.

I agree.  That said, I see both sides.  For example, no one really covered the disappearance of Rilya Wilson from the Florida child welfare system.  She was black and poor, and her foster parents were reportedly junkies.  In fact, she has been declared dead and her foster mom charged with murder, but no body was ever found.  Does that indicate bias, bad timing, or just a less sympathetic and accessible story?  Not sure.    

We'll debate this today with a former FBI profiler and a journalist well versed in reporting stories where race matters.

And we'll look at the 2006 horse race that is already heating up on the web.

Send us your emails.

12 p.m. ET
The blogosphere is an equal opportunity offender.  That is abundantly evident in the successful campaign to bring the Downing Street memo to MSM and to Congress, coming months after the blogs exposed fraudulent documents which forced CBS to retract a story about the President's National Guard service.

In other words, it cuts both ways.

There seems to be a healthy ebb and flow of power in the blogosphere.  Both liberals and conservatives alike complain that they are losing ground to the other.  My DD at one point wrote that the right wing with its ability to stay so narrowly focused on single issues had become to dominate.  Now, Andrew Sullivan is saying the left is experiencing a revival in popularity on the Web.

I am fascinated by the way the Downing Street Memo hit the blogs and stayed there, gaining momentum until MSM had no choice but to notice.

As far as I see it, from a cursory tracking of the issue online, I can construct this chronology:

On May 1 The Times of London published an article exposing the document and it's message that the intelligence on weapons was allegedly being built around the case for war, instead of vice versa.  That the Bush administration might have "cooked the books" and Blair bought it, hook line and sinker.

May 2, Juan Cole links to the Times story.  Not sure if he's the first, but that was mighty fast.

It wasn't until May 6 that I found a reference to the memo in U.S. MSM, Knight Ridder.  According to the left-leaning group Media Matters for America, as of June 15 four of the five major American newspapers had failed to address the issue on the editorial pages.  The first appearance in The Washington Post, as a news article, hit on May 13.

On that same day, the blog "Downing Street memo" went online, founded in part by Michigan Democrat John Conyers.  He was calling for an investigation.

At that point it was a full-blown story on the blogs, liberal and conservative.  The lefties wanted action and attention, and the conservatives pretty much thought it was a lot of noise about nothing.

On May 26 the website "After Downing Street" went online.  This site is essentially a coalition of advocacy groups for veterans and families who were expressing outrage over the allegedly trumped up justification for war.

On May 30, a blogswarm was formed.  For those of you who might be less techie hip that means that many blogs got together on an issue and formed a new blog called "Big Brass Alliance."  Their icon is a big set of brass balls.  Funny.  This blog is a conglomerate of almost 500 other blogs and collectively they support the After Downing Street Alliance in their efforts to get MSM attention for the Memo, as well as a congressional inquiry.  Their ultimate goal is impeachment proceedings for President Bush.

It has since gotten an increasing amount of play in the press, and as of yesterday Rep. John Conyers has a forum underway on the Hill, a begin to the process of discovery on the issue.

Again, this is my cobbled together history, but I think it is relatively accurate.  More than the nuts and bolts of dates and specific blogs, it illustrates the powerful potential of the Internet to expose the stories MSM has missed, ignored, or simply gotten wrong.

And I want to stress my feeling that, coupled with the Rathergate scandal, this shows interesting potential for a checks and balances system that calls crap what it is, whether it's blue or red.

Today on the program, a look at the Downing Street Memo.  Is it new information?  Should there be a Congressional inquiry?  And later, who is blame for low recruitment numbers in the military?  Surely parents may have reservations about allowing their children to enlist during wartime, but some feel the media is making the matter worse by reporting negative stories about soldiers and service.  We'll debate it.

Email me. 

Maciulis@MSNBC.com

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