The August 8 primary day news cycle was absolutely dominated by a story that no one, so far, has offered any substantiation for — the suggestion that the Lamont campaign hacked HoJo’s lame campaign site. Yet everyone from Chris Matthews to Wolf Blitzer and beyond went lurching around like Blanche DuBois on benzos at the very suggestion of such a thing. There is no way to know what effect this kind of wild rumor actually had on election day, or how many votes it might have finally thrown to Lieberman, but he unquestionably won the battle of the primary day spin as a result.
As Jamison Foser notes this morning:
The Lieberman campaign’s complaints have prompted federal and state investigations. And it’s certainly possible that the extensive coverage the Lieberman campaign’s allegations of Lamont "dirty tricks" were given by the media may have given a boost to Lieberman in the first post-primary poll, which shows him with a slim lead over Lamont in a three-way general election campaign.
But while the cause of the website’s unavailability is not yet known, there are increasing indications that it was something other than a hack by Lamont supporters — and that if a "hack" of any kind or source was the original cause, it was not to blame for the extended downtime….
[T]he news organizations that breathlessly reported the Lieberman campaign’s allegations have dropped the ball in following up. Was this really a Lamont campaign "dirty trick"? Did the Lieberman campaign itself play such a trick by taking their own site down, then blaming the opponents? Is it all an innocent mistake? The result of negligence by the Lieberman campaign’s hosting service? These are questions the media should be exploring — but isn’t. (my emphasis)
Foser goes on to note the baseless allegations that Dan Gerstein has been able to toss like a grenade into the middle of major media coverage of Lamont and the blogosphere; they are accepted without question and he never pays any price for them. That needs to end.
On Tuesday we’ll be debuting a new tool for contacting media outlets within our FDL site. Your job, should you chose to accept it, is to search out every media outlet and every journalist that wrote about this story on election day — and see if they have followed up with it since, or if their only interest in it was simply to tweak Ned Lamont when it could hurt him. Please leave any links to these, as well as contact info for the journalists in question, in the comments section.
Gerstein’s been allowed to spread his specious nonsense unchallenged in the media for far too long — if he wants to continue speaking for Lieberman that’s great, but journalists should be making note of the fact that he consistently operates in bad faith and treat his allegations with appropriate skepticism.
He needs to wear this one around his neck until he proves it’s true, or apologizes.
(photo Lindsey Beyerstein)