Scoops and attribution are our topic today; specifically, who deserves credit for breaking one of the weekend buzz stories coming out of the debates. We’re referring to Fox News’ fake posting which quoted John Kerry as saying: “Didn’t my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!” Although Fox posted a retraction, bloggers have a bone to pick with the MSM (mainstream media, for those not glued to their laptops).

Stephen C. Clemons at The Washington Note writes that Josh Marshall broke the story about the phony cuticle quote, attributed to Fox’s Carl Cameron. Clemons writes:

Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times in his report on the fabricated Kerry posting says nothing of Joshua Marshall’s investigation or his reporting. Marshall is a media pro — and has scooped or influenced the traditional media many times before. But The New York Times and other leading publications often think that they can just grab a story that someone else has developed and run it without credit or attribution.

Clemons speaks as someone with tire tracks up his back. “I had a small taste of this after writing about and posting the RNC mailer saying that Democrats would ban the bible. The Associated Press ran the first article about these mailers focusing on West Virginia but did not provide the flier.” He continues:

… [W]hen it comes to the serious issues of reporting — the major media sift through the blogs taking what they can use and not giving attribution. In most liberal arts colleges, that kind of behavior would lead to an “F” or suspension.

Well, at least some of them.

And then the second media fire drill: What was that lump on George Bush’s back Thursday night?

Let’s let Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly, who wisely describes the internet as “your go-to medium for news of the weird,” set the stage. Was George Bush wired — wearing an earpiece — against all debate rules? (We’re not going to even get into Matt Drudge’s flap over what was in Kerry’s pocket.)

Digby at Hullaballo wonders about the ear thing, too, and even links to a suspicious photo. Was the lump a transmitter? (Ohhh, we don’t even want to go there.)

Leaving the issue up to readers to decide, Digby offers this thought: “If Bush was using an earpiece you have to assume that the person who was feeding him his lines at this debate was very drunk or very dumb because his answers were just awful.”

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.