Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, you must be aware of the recent controversy concerning the authenticity of documents used in a 60 Minutes episode that were first seriously questioned in the blogosphere.
If you’d like some background, please check out the original thread (serious doubts begin at comment #47), and other related posts here, here, here, here, and here. I’m sure you can find many others.
It’s pretty sweet to see public events so strongly affected, so quickly, by weblog readers and writers. Particularly after many have criticized the Internet as being such a poor source of information, and advising people to put their trust in professional journalism which specializes in separating truth from fiction. Hopefully, people will be more respectful of the power of many smart, interested, distributed analysts to get to the truth of matters such as this.
One interesting thing I noticed was the NPR report on Friday night hinting that perhaps this was a right-wing conspiracy because people on the net seemed to begin questioning the authenticity of the documents before the show was over and the documents were available other than a quick appearance on television:
Finally, the questions about the memos have raised some questions themselves. The first doubts about the documents’ authenticity were apparently raised on a weblog at 8:59 Wednesday night, just as the “60 Minutes” broadcast was ending. The blogger, according to the ABCNEWS web site, raised almost immediate questions about the font of the memos and the spacing of the letters, all of which would have tricky to determine based on a fleeting appearance on a TV screen.
I had seen the chronology of events and was pretty sure that this was false.
Fortunately, I see that this has been addressed by the blogosphere as well (it was an error at interpreting a timestamp). Apparently ABC News has since corrected their mistake, but the false claim is still spreading among those who would rather believe it than check it out.
Anyway, I congratulate the blogosphere for displaying its tremendous ability to analyze facts and reveal the truth. And, I thumb my nose all of those who think that we should leave these tasks to the mainstream media.
UPDATE: Steve Horwitz at Liberty & Power has a nice post relating the incident to Hayek’s “Use of Knowledge in Society”.