I posted recently that O’Reilly said straight out to his audience to never believe anything a blogger says. I hooted at that. For those who don’t take blogging and social media seriously, it is easy to write them off and p-offed kids who are angry at the world, calling everyone names, repeating or creating misinformation and in general not acting in a responsible manner. That is true of some, no doubt, but is very untrue of most others in my experience.
That’s why I was truly disheartened to see a blogger, David Axe of Wired, essentially fitting into the first category. His name calling, careless disregard for the facts, and uncritical repetition of the errors of the mainstream media in the situation of the FEMA press conference are illustrations of why bloggers lose respect. It is true that because this situation now involves me I have the advantage of information about it that may not be readily available. Pat Philbin, the subject of the name calling, has been very open in all opportunities to express his views on the topic. For a lengthy interview, go to Kami Huyse’ Communication Overtones blog.
It is interesting that those engaged in the online discussion about FEMA and Philbin, including interesting questions posed by Shel Israel, are clearly struggling with the issue of what they can and ought to believe about the reports of the incident written by three reporters. I suspect the struggle–particularly when confronted with credible counter information–demonstrates that we tend to believe what we read and hear much more when it conforms to pre-conceived notion. When we disagree with the message, it is much easier to write it off as the typical media nonsense. The resistance to doing that in this case makes me believe that FEMA’s reputation hole–shared by those who work for the agency–may be deeper than we thought, and maybe too deep for anyone to dig out of.