IT IS TEMPTING to speculate about how the new Supreme Court will differ from the old (Senator McConnell might want to find another complaint to file against McCain-Feingold), but that debate will rage for months into the future, and the blogosphere has had a very interesting two weeks responding to Katrina and its aftermath.
This has been the period when the blogs showed their three Cs: Compassion, connection, and correction.
First, compassion. Led by Glenn Reynolds and N.Z. Bear and beginning on September 1, a nonpartisan scrum of more than 1,800 bloggers appealed to their readers to support a long list of charities. More than $1,300,000 had been raised in a week, and that total only represents those blog readers willing not only to contribute but also to record their contribution in the N.Z. Bear log-in site.
Second, connection: N.Z. Bear, again, is pioneering an effort to post and match the needs and abilities of the hurting inside the recovery zone and those desiring to help across the country. With unlimited space, the internet allows for specificity in requested relief and response. The new portal being designed by N.Z. will list the needs of organizations in the recovery region and then allow the massive open source dynamic of the web to take over. By this time next week, institutions with specific wants will be able to post their lists on the N.Z. Bear portal, and bloggers will work to publicize the messages. Expect enormous efficiencies in the delivery of targeted relief as a result.
Finally, correction, as in the sort that follows from accountability.
There aren't going to be any secrets in this story, at least not for long. When Fox News's Major Garrett broke a story on Wednesday afternoon that Red Cross senior officials were confirming that Louisiana state officials had blocked the supply of water, food, blankets, and hygiene products to the Superdome, it was only moments later that the story had been picked up on FreeRepublic, and Garrett was booked and interviewed on my radio show. (Transcript here.)
In the same fashion, when New Orleans Mayor Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation earlier in the week, only to be overruled by Governor Blanco the same day, the public had instant knowledge of yet another snafu between the local and state governments. Despite the near monolithic chant of the mainstream media that the disaster in New Orleans was Bush's fault, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll revealed that outside of Andrew Sullivan and Daily Kos, the vast majority of Americans aren't buying the latest fever fresh from the swamp. It is no longer a question of running an end-run around media elites--it is a question of whether media elites have any purpose other than to amuse savvy news consumers. There's nothing like a tape of David Gregory at the White House press briefing to keep a drive time audience glued to the station's signal.
It is a new media world, and every story--even the biggest of disasters--proves it again and again.
Hugh Hewitt is the host of a nationally syndicated radio show, and author most recently of Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That is Changing Your World. His daily blog can be found at HughHewitt.com.