Josh Marshall & Talkingpointsmemo:
An Example of Blogs at Their Best
Over the last four years (yes, we're coming up on an anniversary, just days away), I've enthused about Josh Marshall and his Talkingpointsmemo blog at least a half dozen times, pointing to it as an example of perhaps the highest expression of what great independent web journalism can achieve. The site first came to wide attention in 2002, when it bird-dogged a story that the rest of the media mostly ignored: then-Senate Majority leader Trent Lott marking Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday by seemingly celebrating his segregationist past. The comment was carried live on C-Span, but only Marshall seemed to think it deserved much attention. Lott eventually was forced to give up his leadership position. Marshall never gloated, but merely went back to work, even hiring a couple of reporters to help him break more news.
That was a mere prelude to the events of the last couple of weeks, when TPM again seized on what it thought was a big deal and which many others only considered a scrap: the sacking of eight U.S. Attorneys around the country. Marshall smelled a rat, and kept digging around the edges of the story, blending his own staff's digging with tips from readers and an alert stitching together of newspaper stories from around the country. Even more importantly, he challenged (and shamed) larger news operations to do so as well. The result: yet the latest example of the heart of darkness at the core of this corrupt White House. The Hill Democrats' new subpoena power, of course, is helping get to the bottom of this story, where Karl Rove naturally shows up, moving chess pieces around the board in his typical fashion.
But what I liked best about the last week is what made Marshall and his site so good in the first place. When just about anyone else would have been taking victory laps and smirking their way to fame, Marshall was doing none of that. He remained what he's always been, a serious, consummate pro. He appeared on MSNBC's Hardball and a number of other venues, and I detected no hint of triumphalism or any of the immaturity that the egregious Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of Daily Kos would have shown. Instead, his whole attitude seemed to be: hooray for us, but if you'll excuse me, now we need to get back to work, because the news continues.