Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Saturday, November 13, 2004

"I don't think we have closure yet." Mickey Kaus

On Monday, we started a weblog.

On Saturday, we're mentioned on NPR. Solomon Grundy didn't have it so good.

Brooke Gladstone's piece today on NPR's On the Media is a good one -- especially by first calling to task the media's semantic decisions to treat the election irregularities as "rumors and innuendo spread on the Internet," when some -- most -- of those irregularities have yet to be debunked or explained. And a minute in, why, there's this little plug:

The papers are seeing more conspiracies than stories here, but even though none of the alleged ballot shenanigans would change the outcome of the presidential election, to some, they suggest that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. In fact, you can find a long list of ballot irregularities at a website called

We'd take issue with the idea that none of the alleged ballot shenanigans would change the outcome of the Presidential election (hello, Ohio), but that would seem petty and looking a gifthorse in the mouth.

What's better is that who was interviewed immediately after our plug? Why, Mickey Kaus himself, giving very funny comment, and, to his credit, asserting that everything has not been debunked:
If there were a Mission Impossible task force assigned to steal an American election -- fiddling with it behind the scenes -- it would look very much like what we experienced last week. If you're a rational paranoid, that says hmm, so maybe we just better make sure this was kosher...

I think the press has already been accused of being biased for the Democrats; they've learned to handle that. I don't think that's the reason. They don't want to be seen as being spoilsports or sore losers, but mainly, like everybody else, they want to put Florida behind them...

I don't think we have closure yet. We haven't had the definitive, convincing investigative piece. Maybe it came out today and I haven't read it. But I haven't seen the piece that convinces me that everything was on the up-and-up.

Right on, Mickster.

Gladstone then explains that one reason why we aren't yet convinced is because "some incidents still defy explanation, and aren't being examined -- as of Friday, anyway -- except by one stunningly enthusiastic news anchor. NBC's Keith Olbermann is the newly appointed hero of the left, recipient of over 20,000 grateful emails in the past week."

Gladstone then gets Mickey's take on Keith:
He's been totally transparent about what he's doing, and hasn't gone that much beyond where the facts have lead him. He hasn't pretended he's doing anything other than investigating the story. I think he's behaved responsibily and he can back off now if it turns out not to be true without any egg on his face. That's what the press is supposed to do. It's supposed to raise questions and answer them.

If you weren't already begun making Mickey Kaus little valentines out of construction paper and Glusticks after the "closure" quote, well, you must be cutting out the doilies by now.

Gladstone then talks to Olbermann. Here's what Keith says:
"Believe me, I didn't start out on a crusade to be the only person who was covering this story. I did not think this was Edward R. Murrow bringing down Joseph McCarthy. I have no illusions about it. I thought it was a story that merited coverage. I don't really have to worry about what other people are doing and not doing. I'm just looking at it from the point of view that there is a story here, I happen to have a newscast and maybe I should cover it.

Why aren't his colleagues covering it? Not because they're scared, says Olbermann, but because they're tired after a long presidential campaign. "I think the primary reason this didn't get any coverage, was because people were just off."

Olbermann also cites a mainstream media's contempt for blog-generated news. "Any established form of journalism gets really angry when there is a new form of journalism put in, especially when it doesn't play by the rules that the old fashioned version does, and clearly the Internet does not play by those rules."

Olbermann continues, explaining an additional reason for the slow coverage, a reason which Gladstone says she believes is the main reason the story has been covered the way it has. "In mainstream media, we are very goal oriented. We don't talk issues or policy or long term effects. It is, 'okay, this is not going to impact the outcome of the election, because Kerry already conceded. End of story, let's start talking about the 2008 primaries.'"

But in Olbermann's case, it was the Warren County story that caused him to break through that reluctance and decide these irregularities deserved coverage -- and he would cover them. And then, as Gladstone explains, more and more came up the closer one looked -- including the strangeness, that we haven't discussed much here, in North Carolina, where vote counts kept getting... readjusted.

Gladstone describes the Kerry campaign's reluctance to get involved, quoting David Wade's recent quote in the NY Times saying, "I'd give my right arm for the Internet rumors to be true, but that won't make it so." But she also reports that Kerry's lawyers are on a fact-checking trip to Ohio. And there's the Congressmen with the GAO investigation. And Nader in New Hampshire. It's all, in Gladstone's eyes, a "slow drip drip drip that wouldn't fill a bucket. But maybe if we just stare this thing down, it would work better this time. I don't want a tin-foil hat, just please God, give me some closure."

Well, as Mickey Kaus said, we don't have closure yet.

And enough slow drip, drip, drips can drown a man.