Mick Fealty and ‘Gudio Fawkes’ are making interesting claims about whether the blogosphere – and Paul Staines in particular – brought down Peter Hain. This is a bit of a macho and silly argument because, of course, the media rarely does for someone on their own, let alone the new media. It is always a combination of factors, platforms and stories.
There are lots of examples where blogs have had impacts on politics dating at least from Matt Drudge’s exposure of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal more than a decade ago.
But on this one I have to say that I think that Guido and the bloggers generally have pursued the complex and often dull tale of Labour campaign finance with a doggedness that only the deeply politically-motivated and detail-obsessed can muster. It’s not pretty and I am sure things were said online that have not been substantiated. But the essence of the narrative was true and we should be grateful for the critical input of the bloggers.
But what motivates bloggers like Paul Staines? He is a right-wing libertarian but he is pretty transparent about his obvious bias. Of course, this kind of ideosyncratic, almost anarchic approach really winds up mainstream media professionals who would like the sport of political reporting to be played according to the rules. I am grateful to Mick Fealty for pointing me towards this excellent survey of the potentially destructive and positive effects of the Guido approach to political journalism which has the Guardian’s Michael White taking on the online provocateur.