Powerline’s trio are thus the most significant citizen journalists of the first age of internet journalism, and wold be even had they not toppled Dan Rather. Like it or not –and those on the left won’t– their coming into being and their writings and associated endeavors will be studied far into the future. They didn’t just occasionally make the weather in American journalism over the past five years, they changed the weather patterns. They set a standard, delivered a product, and obliged MSM to change how it dealt with citizen journalists and their work. They were aided in this by tens of thousands of other bloggers, of course, but to a degree not yet even remotely appreciated Powerline’s authors had an enormous and lasting effect on American journalism.
If that sounds like hyperbole, remember that Mary Mapes, CBS’s erstwhile producer who, along with RatherGate’s namesake, foisted the scandal on the public, later admitted that she hadn’t even heard of Power Line—nor any other Weblog on the starboard side of the ‘Net. And prior to both parties’ presidential conventions in 2004, when the TV networks had to fill hours of time somehow and interviewed bloggers, and then RatherGate itself, the general public as a whole had never really heard of blogs. For the previous three years, I felt compelled to explain in query letters to editors and publishers just what the heck a blog was. After 2004, there was no need to.
I think a big part of the credit for RatherGate should also go to Charles Johnson for his famous “throbbing memo” gif–once it hit the ‘Net, the countdown officially began on both Dan’s reputation, and his career at CBS–and of course, Buckhead of the Free Republic forum for initially noticing that there something seemed amiss in the documents that CBS uploaded to attempt to support their story. But beginning with “The Sixty First-Minute“, there’s no doubt that Power Line did much to advance the story–and in doing so very much helped to put the Blogosphere as a whole on the map.