. . . so far has been the extremely complicated nature of the details surrounding his activities and associations. The fact that the story is an exercise in onion-peeling has provided a convenient excuse for more credentialed online outlets not to cover it, and for left-leaning sympathizers to dismiss it. That’s why such soft-handed fops as Alex Pareene can simper their way through their purported analyses of the controversy and rest assured that their readers will yuk it up right along with them.
Stories like the Kimberlin/Rauhauser/Brynaert axis require diligent, dogged reporting along the lines of Stacy McCain’s in order to fully illustrate the complicated relationships between the key players. Unfortunately, the nature of the blogosphere and social media at large just isn’t conducive to comprehensive exposés of the kind required to fully flesh out all the details of a story like Kimberlin, et al. Just writing the name of the principals involved takes up 20% of the total characters that will fit into a tweet, after all. And, with the ever-shrinking attention span of the typical social media maven, it makes it all but impossible to fully communicate the basic facts of the story, let alone to lend context and map out the implications of their actions.
To that end, both Patrick Frey and Aaron Walker have put together condensed versions of the work they’ve done and the stories behind their encounters with this triumvirate of goons. As you can see by the length of the long-story-short explications, there really is no way to make the long story short. What Frey and Walker have done is to distill an entire novel’s worth of information down to an abstract. And even in its highly compressed, the story is still far too densely packed with detail to cram into an elevator speech.
And that makes it all the more extraordinary that a United States Senator like Saxby Chambliss would actually take up the cause and bring it to the attention of the Justice Department. But for the fact that one of Chambliss’s high-profile constituents wound up in the crosshairs of Kimberlin & Co., the story might have remained a mere curiosity — the exclusive domain of the blogosphere and twitterverse. Thankfully, the Georgia senator has recognized the importance of shining a light on the histories and activities of thugs like Kimberlin and his abettors — a development that severely hampers the ability of such miscreants to operate with the impunity they’ve enjoyed up until now.
The defense of online speech — which, as I’ve tried to demonstrate with my writing about the case of Dan Valenti, ought to be an utterly non-partisan, non-ideological issue — requires determination. The fact that a story may have a cast of unknowns as its principals shouldn’t deter those of us who count on that freedom to do what we do in our daily lives. As bloggers, that’s the entire rationale for our existence: to do the job the mainstream media refuse to do. Whether their refusal is a product of their ideological sympathies or pure laziness is irrelevant; if a story needs to be told, and the establishment media aren’t covering it, no amount of complaining is going to force them to do it. It’s entirely up to the new media to expose the truth.
Doubtless, there will always be shortsighted naysayers like the hothouse flowers at Salon, whose idea of journalism consists of aping the comment sections left wing discussion forums and adding their own childishly irreverent spin on a story. But, I’ve always been of the mind that you can tell how damaging a story is by how anxious the affected parties are to dismiss it. And when their analysis of a story amounts to declaring its key players are “nobodies”, you can be sure that they understand the gravity of the story itself, but are desperate not to explore it beyond its most superficial elements.