Sex, Lies and Videotape on the Internet?

I had originally planned to avoid this story. The reason is simple; O’Reily is writing this simply to get attention. He is too savy to actually believe this. And that is what I want to talk about.

Billy is sagging in the ratings. He’s old news. Other people, like Hannity, are batter at the “Ah-HA!” interview, and people are catching on. Billy has to do something to get attention. Unfortunately for him, he is still stuck in the TV mentality of “any press is good press.” Bill has decided to apply that philosophy to the blogosphere, and I think it is going to bite him in the ass.

How do you get the attention of the mythical blogosphere? You attack it. So he did. And he got the attention of the 800 lbs. gorillas, who game him a a proper fisking, and now everything is right with the world, correct?

Not quite. I think that Bill has missed the effect of reputation on the Internet. Reputation is important. The people on the internet are not TV drones. They don’t remember just that a name is familiar and watch what is familiar; they remember why that person is familiar, and if they don’t there is a link there to remind them. He complains that you don’t get corrections on the internet; he is right. What you get is immediate editing or withdrawl of incorrect facts. If you don’t, then the person screwing up gets fisked and everyone laughs at him.

Pay attention to that word. When you screw up on the internet, people remember. Robert Fisk screwed up, and he did it often enough that he has a word named after him that embodies incompetence. He’s gaining company. Maureen Dowd has her own word now (Dowdification), and I’m sure that there will be more. If O’Reily wants to keep tugging this chain, he might be the next one.

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