Pissing in the wind…

…and other wastes of time: trying to set the record straight on the Trent Lott thing. The conventional wisdom, from a Philly Inquirer review of Hugh Hewitt’s book:

Hewitt notes that while it was left-of-center bloggers Atrios (Philadelphian Duncan Black) and Joshua Micah Marshall who got the anti-Lott swarm buzzing, it was conservative bloggers – notably the chameleonic Andrew Sullivan, whose coloration at the time was deemed conservative, and Republican law professor Daniel Drezner – who brought it to critical mass.

This is all true, as far as it goes, but it leaves out one significant detail: this site’s small but crucial role in the whole matter. As some of you may recall, the balance was apparently tipped when footage surfaced of Trent Lott making the same comments about Strom Thurmond a third time. And the reason that footage became public was that a reader of this site had caught it on C-Span several years prior, grasped the significance, and saved the tape. He emailed me and I put the information up on my site, where it was ignored by pretty much everyone. I then called up a producer I knew at MSNBC, which ran with the scoop, albeit without acknowledging the source. Soon it was all over the networks and Fox pundits were speculating that the DNC must have had an army of interns poring over old footage.

Short story: the Lott thing is not quite the Triumph of the Blogs tale that myth has made it. The story gained momentum because of the blogs. And if I hadn’t been blogging, the reader who had the tape might never have contacted me. But what finally brought down Trent Lott was primarily a guy, I believe in the Midwest, with an old videotape and a long memory, and secondarily, the fact that I had a friend working at MSNBC. (Since I called him on the phone, you could just as easily credit the telecommunications network as the blogs…)

Relevant entries here, here, and here.

…just so we’re clear, I’m not that worried about getting “credit” here — I was really little more than a conduit. I’m just tired of seeing this triumphalist myth repeated over and over, when I know for a fact that the blogs were only part of the story…