In the wake of the news that the Philadelphia McCain campaign volunteer made up the mugging story, Andrew Sullivan writes, “All those who reported or linked to this without some skepticism were race-baiting.”
So Andrew Sullivan is scolding those who link to far-fetched stories without skepticism. This is the man who in linking to a delusional DailyKos post on the secret machinations of the Palin baby swap called it simply “the timeline.” Sullivan continues to rest his “Sarah Palin was not vetted” case entirely on such disproved myths. Just today, he linked to a video–which he describes as “pure genius”–asserting that Palin practices voodoo, wants to ban books, and hopes to see Alaska secede.
From his unique perch, Sullivan has single-handedly plunged new media journalism into an intellectual and ethical vacuum. He isn’t guilty of practicing irresponsible journalism; he’s guilty of championing irresponsibility–and then sanctifying it with the self-righteous claim that he alone is “doing his job.” The greatest damage Sullivan has done to his trade is not failing to tell readers the truth, but succeeding in dashing their expectation of it. For committing that sin, readers and bloggers alike won’t soon let him off the hook. For all his mock-precious philosophizing on the nature of blogging, he’s managed to obliterate the genuinely precious connection between reader and writer: trust.
As for the damage Sullivan has done to himself — it seems tragically fitting that the medium’s first superstar would also be its first casualty.