Today’s Special: Grilled Berger, With a Side of Speculation

BergerGate is burning up the blogosphere this morning.

In a contortionistic feat, Andrew Sullivan manages, in one short post, to both slap Bill Clinton and pat himself (and the ‘sphere) on the back. “My best bet,” Sullivan declares, “is that Berger was engaging in advance damage control — saving the drafts to help concoct a better defense of his tenure. If so, it’s classic Clinton era sleaze — not exactly terrible but cheesy subordination of national security for partisan political advantage. But at times like this, I sure am glad we have the blogosphere. Can you imagine the mainstream press really pursuing this story alone?”

Joining in on the press bashing, Atrios — at last back from his hiatus — is “struck once again with how successfully the Republicans can ensure that all of their groundless allegations and ridiculous speculations [vis a vis Berger] can magically start coming out of the mouths of the likes of Wolf Blitzer.”

Instapundit also likes his Berger with a dash of press disparagement. “Meanwhile,” he writes, “it’s noted that the Washington Post was describing Berger as a ‘top Kerry adviser’ back in May, but is now calling him an ‘informal’ advisor. What gives?”

Josh Marshall smells something rotten in l’affaire Berger. “Given the timing and other context I don’t have much doubt this was a politically motivated and malicious leak,” asserts Marshall. “It’s as dirty as it comes, but also highly predictable. I think a lot of Democrats are going to be asking why Berger didn’t see this coming down the pike, step aside from his prominent advisory role with the Kerry campaign, and avoid at least the immediate partisan political dimensions of the current predicament almost entirely.”

In other news, unlike CBS News’ president, the blogosphere is 100 percent behind the Television Critics Association bestowing its award for best news and information program upon … Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

Suburban Guerrilla fires away: “But Jon Stewart is the best news show. Because it’s not defined by how much footage you get of things blowing up; it’s whether or not you’re telling people the truth, as opposed to parroting the official version. Maybe the head of CBS News thinks he’s been telling the truth, but a thousand dead soldiers would probably beg to differ.” Wonkette! weighs in with this: “Fake news Daily Show wins real news award, Lost Remote pooh-poohs, ‘As much as I enjoy The Daily Show, this crosses the line.’ Sure, crosses the line into awesome.”

Finally, N.Z. Bear takes on Alex Jones for his Sunday Los Angeles Times column “sniff[ing] disapprovingly” at bloggers and their presence at the political conventions. “Jones is right to be worried,” Bear snarls, “but not for the reasons he expresses in his column … I predict that much of the most compelling coverage from our colleagues journeying to New York and Boston will come when they turn their attention to the parallel shadow dance that our press corps performs alongside the public, visible routines of the political operators.” He ends with this menacing warning: “[Mainstream journalists] may not know it yet, but the bloggers aren’t there to cover the convention. They are there to cover the journalists. So my advice to Mr. Jones, and any other pro journalist out there venturing to the conventions: I suggest you put on your best suit. You are being watched.”

We’re all for “covering journalists” — hey, they actually pay us to do it — but somehow we have a hard time imagining Bear’s ominous challenge generating fear or loathing amongst the boys and girls on the bus.

Liz Cox Barrett

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.