Tim Rutten is right AND wrong.

Rutten is his usual snarky self in dissing the blogosphere in the Los Angeles Times. He slobbers all over himself in praising the mainstream press for their tsunami coverage while burping at the blogosphere. Here’s a snippet:

As the culture war has staggered from one bloodily inclusive engagement to another over the last two years, a cadre of dispirited academics and the handful of partisan commentators and diarists who infest cyberspace have managed to transform “mainstream media” from a description into an epithet.
So bloggers “infest” cyberspace, eh? Well, he’s entitled to that opinion (and, yes, MSM is a pejorative term), but he then justifies it by saying the blogosphere has been trailing badly in coverage of the tsunami.
Real news is covered in the same way that real wars are won: by putting enough boots on the ground.

And only the much-maligned mainstream media have the ability to put those boots where they belong. In the face of such evidence, it’s time to consider what an America — or, for that matter, a world — without mainstream media really would look like.

Do Americans really hunger for news media that provide more and more opinions based on fewer and fewer facts? Do they want media in which belief trumps knowledge? Do they really desire media suffused with attitude and bereft of understanding?

The experience of the last two weeks clearly suggests not.

Rutten — himself a member of the MSM — is feeling threatened, and is one of the guys who still sees the blogosphere as a group of people in their pajamas spouting nonsense. In this case, he’s as wrong as a rose in a spittoon. The blogosphere was THE initial source of gathering and presenting those precious facts when the tsunami hit. Where were photos first presented? Online or in the MSM? Where were videos first presented? Online or in the MSM? And who first jolted the public into opening their pocketbooks? Who fueled the wonderful Amazon.com contribution? Let’s see, was it the MSM or the infestation?

While the MSM was reporting accusations of our stinginess, the blogosphere was raising money to help.

Rutten is right in pronouncing that the MSM’s strength is footwork and that the world without them wouldn’t be a very good place. But here’s the thing. Nobody that I know in the blogosphere has ever suggested that one could replace the other. Checks and balances, Tim. That’s the deal, and you just don’t like it.

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