There has been some [well deserved] self-righteous back slapping over the embarrassing display by Senators Durbin and Kennedy. A blogger from Pajamas Media started asking some hard questions and (gasp) expected honest answers – needless to say Senators don’t like answering hard questions they prefer the softballs that they get from the rest of the media.
The real question is does any of it really matter? In the short term the answer is clearly no. Partisans don’t really care what critiques of their candidates make the light of day, they really only care about defeating the “other side.” They are particularly adept at cherry picking news stories that match their world view and ignoring the rest. Even exposes by allegedly non-partisan bloggers will go largely ignored.
For the rest of the populous, the voting citizen that is “independent” – the population where elections are won and lost – they aren’t paying attention anyway. They don’t really care about politics and only pay attention to what is going on close to election time. They also typically vote their pocket books – if times are good they reward the incumbent if not then they punish him, regardless of merit. So in other words, unless the MSM decides to spend a lot more time covering what bloggers are saying – not likely – the average voter will never hear the “hard hitting questions.”
In the longer term expect Congressmen to change the rules – their success in getting re-elected is dependent, in large part, to their constituents being ignorant about what happens in Washington. If Joe American really knew what their representatives of government did with their money they would rightly be outraged. So the powerful will work to keep “friendly” journalists close at hand while keeping unknown entities at arms length. It’s hard to say what the justification will be, but rest assured that if bloggers insist on being “difficult” they will stop getting access.
I know bloggers (myself included) really need to feel as if they are doing something good, but we are largely irrelevant because we don’t impact elections so politicians just don’t care about us.