Ms. Goodman recently wrote an op-ed piece that criticized the bloggers who harshly criticized Jill Carroll for saying certain things while being held at gunpoint by her captors in Iraq. A number of the things that have been written and said about Ms. Carroll are admittedly rude and inappropriate; describing a complete stranger as a "spoiled brat", when the individual making that judgment probably knows less about her subject than about slander laws, gives the impression that, for that particular blogger at least, blogging is more about venting spleen than about rationally and objectively discussing whatever topic is at hand. And, yes, a number of people out in the blogosphere probably owe Ms. Carroll an apology.
But whether this damages the respectability and credibility of blogging in general is an open question. Has the New York Times gone out of business since the exposure of Jayson Blair's fabricated stories? Did people stop reading the Washington Post when Janet Cook's Pulitzer Prize winning story about a child drug-addict was revealed to be a hoax? The reputations of the individual authors in question, certainly, are tarnished, and the exposure of their frauds has definitely proved to be a turning point in their respective careers, but mainstream media doesn't appear to have suffered a loss of respectability on their account.
Which is really too bad. It isn't clear which is worse, to issue a knee-jerk villification of a journalist who participated in creating a propaganda piece to save her skin or a journalist participating in the creation of propaganda because he or she thinks the story is more important than the reality it supposedly portrays. In the sphere of journalism, is the former worse than the latter, or vice versa? People look like fools for the former but are more likely to get fired for the latter, so perhaps the latter is the worse of two faults in the transmission of ideas. And yet, bending facts to fit theories and fables is so commonplace; Blair and Cook are not alone in being caught doing this and one can only guess how many stories are being circulated whose fictional element is not exposed. And for each story that contains an outright lie, one can only guess how many news stories there are that ignore facts that don't support the reporter's own bias.