Reading Daily Kos is like reading the newspaper a month in advance. Reading Daily Kos is like reading the newspaper a week in advance.
Reading Daily Kos is like reading the damned newspaper... used to be.
If you were following the FISA and telecom amnesty debate in the traditional media (even their blog versions) yesterday, you were hopelessly lost. You would have read that Dodd's filibuster had "fizzled," and that the telecoms had won a victory. And you apparentlywould have been reading this well into the evening, since it wasn't until well after the bill had finally been pulled that the media got a real handle on what had happened, even if they never really understood how it had happened, much less why. But if you stuck with us, you probably had a pretty good handle on things, whether you're a visual learner, or prefer the narrative form.
The reasons are myriad, and we've discussed some of them before. First, there's the background media narrative to overcome. The conventional wisdom was that this deal was going through, and that was that. So the stories were in some sense already written. A change of direction always catches the media off guard. But beyond that, the plain fact is that the traditional media just isn't that well suited to covering a story like this.
Second, this situation was fluid, and traditional media that have strict deadlines for going to press just can't keep up. That's why so many media organizations have made the move to the Internet, or have developed news blogs. But that overcomes just one of the many hurdles.
Third, in addition to being fluid, it was complex and arcane. It took a long time to explain exactly what was going on, or what might happen. In fact, that explanation turned my planned 15 minute interview on The Young Turks radio program into a 45 minute appearance, explaining as thoroughly as I could what the situation was and various possibilities of how it might shake out, not to mention what that might mean and why it happening this way in the first place. No traditional media organization can spend that kind of time on things. Even the radio appearance was perhaps only possible because The Young Turks show had committed to continuing to tape their show as long as Dodd kept up his fight, so we had lots of time to kill and the longer we spent explaining it, the better. As a result, the traditional media coverage of yesterday's events by and large simply got the procedure wrong, mistaking the cloture vote on the motion to proceed for a cloture vote on Dodd's filibuster of the bill itself (which we never even got to), and forgetting entirely about the 30 hours of post-cloture debate, which is what we were actually seeing yesterday.
And fourth (I was going to say "finally," but nothing is final until the comments come in), there's the matter of the time and effort that we can put into a story like this -- both individually as bloggers, and collectively as a blogosphere -- that the traditional media can't. Or won't. I don't have to remind anyone here of what that boils down to...
I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right...
Well you know what? Neither do I. But I did it anyway, because I care what the hell happens in this country, and I want to know what I'm talking about.
I worked on Capitol Hill for a few years, so I happen to know something about procedure in general. But I never worked on the Senate side. Do you want to know how I came to understand Senate procedure? I looked it up and read about it. What a concept.
So thanks for playing along with us. Hope you enjoyed the ride. We'll be back here on this bill again in January, and we can put what we learned to good use. Until then, don't forget to put your "Stupid Internet Hayseed" costumes (or your "Vinny in the Bronx" bathrobe) back on. You don't want to spook the natives.