In the comments to this post, Riding Sun reader Big Ben challenged me to find a Democratic politician "saying anything unambiguously negative about blogs".
Well, I haven't done an exhaustive search. But so far, aside from failed presidential candidate John Kerry's recent (and much-discussed on this blog) speech, which mentioned the Drudge Report and the "sub-media", but not blogs in general, it seems like the negative comments about bloggers are coming from members of the mainstream media themselves who, while probably Democrats, are not politicians.
For example, consider Vanity Fair "media critic" Michael Wolff's recent pompous comments on the impact of blogs:
Well, they do have impact. Part of it is actually involved with a kind of further devaluation of information because what it sets up is this constant second guessing of information. Which is not necessarily bad but it does lower the value of all information. You undermine that authority of information. But having been around this business now for some time I've learned that nothing lasts too long. By all rights, 18 months from now we should be looking back at this and all kind of embarrassed to say the word blog I hope.True to form, when Wolff found a blogger had posted a transcript of his speech on the Internet, he had it removed by sending a notice of copyright infringement to the blogger's ISP but not before, of course, pertinent bits spread through the blogosphere.
The lack of politicians going on record against blogs bears out my hunch (as discussed in that previous post) that none of them is dumb enough to publicly call for a crackdown on free speech. Any pressure on bloggers will not be billed as such, but will come as the de facto effect of a push for tougher libel laws or copyright protections.
However, I did find one Democrat who's standing up for bloggers' free speech rights: Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan). On Cnet's News.com site, Rep. Conyers states:
For better or worse, we operate in an environment where major conglomerates such as News Corp., General Electric, Disney, Viacom, Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Clear Channel dominate the nation's airwaves and print media. Whenever a potential story criticizing a powerful political figure or corporate parent is squelched, questions are raised concerning the independence of the mainstream news media. Bloggers, by contrast, are not subject to these same constraints or concerns, and have shown their independence over and over.Well said, Rep. Conyers. I'd like to hear Kerry express similar sentiments the next time he feels compelled to opine on the state of America's media.
I agree with Thomas Jefferson's sentiments when he wrote, "The basis of our government being the opinion of people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter."
In Jefferson's era, print newspapers revolutionized the way the country read and processed the news. Today we stand on the precipice of a new media revolution with the advent of the Internet. We need to protect bloggers' First Amendment rights so they can help us protect our own citizens' rights.