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Monday, September 12, 2005

Matt Margolis, Tom Goldstein Are Live-Blogging the Roberts Senate Confirmation Hearing, Let's Hope They are Making Blogosphere History

Both suffered through the opening day of peacock strutting by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee giving their opening statements for the assembled cameras, but it's important duty nevertheless and an important illustration of one of the Blogosphere's least appreciated and exercised powers. Go here for SCOTUSblog's Goldstein and here for Margolis.

There should be two, three, many live-bloggers every day at the Roberts hearing and indeed at every congressional committee hearing, every executive branch regulatory hearing or proceeding and every other official function that matters at all levels of government.

The Roberts hearing is just the beginning. Here is a typical post for today from Margolis:

"UPDATE, 3:40 PM EDT: Kennedy says he's 'troubled' that Republicans urged Roberts not to answer questions... That's not what they said... but Kennedy may have been drinking before the hearing... he's as red as a radish... Schumer says same things.. They are completely misrepresenting what the Republicans said."

And earlier in the afternoon, Matt filed these updates:

"UPDATE, 1:51 PM EDT: Russ Feingold says its a confirmation hearing.. not a 'coronation.' Also, I've posted Kyl's complete opening remarks...
"UPDATE, 1:46 PM EDT: Sessions had a great opening... talked about how the attacks on Roberts are basically just "fill in the blank" type attacks... (rush transcript)
"Time and again, you will have your legal decisions, your pre-decisional memoranda, even as a young lawyer, distorted or taken out of context. These attacks are driven most often by outside groups.

"They will dig through the many complex cases you've dealt with in an effort to criticize your record. They'll produce, on coup, the most dire warnings that civil liberties in America will be lost forever if you're confirmed as a federal judge. It's really a form, an attack... all they have to do is place your name in the blank spaces. These tactics, I think, are unfair, and sometimes have been dishonest."

Goldstein is taking the same basic approach:

"3:05 - Senator Coburn offers the last opening statement. Coburn says that 'judicial activism' means so many things to different people. (That seems exactly right to me.) He says that activism has created huge social rifts. (That seems overstated, but a fair point in general.) Coburn -- in the most dramatic moment of the proceedings so far -- nearly breaks down into tears, saying that his "heart aches" for less partisanship and bitterness."

There will undoubtedly be refinements in the way live-bloggers present the events they cover. For now, the blow-by-blow summary is the basic tool of the live-blogger.

Live-blogging is powerful for two reasons:

First, it puts interested communities inside the hearing room with an immediacy and thoroughness that is simply not possible via television or print news media. Sure, the blow-drys of the boob tube can do their two-minute standups and the print folks can file 50-column inch stories that appear a couple of hours later on their news organization's web site. But neither approaches the immedicacy and thoroughness of a blogger on site during a news event of importance.

Just look at what Margolis and Goldstein have been filing all day. They have quick summaries of what is being said virtually in real-time, plus links to the official statements of the committee members and witnesses (at least I assume he will when they start appearing). Anybody seeking a comprehensive understanding of who is saying what today in that hearing room will stay with Margolis and Goldstein and forget the MSMers.

Second, sooner or later, having live bloggers present insures greater accuracy and honesty by everybody concerned. Maybe not with this hearing or the next confirmation hearing, but as more live-bloggers show up, the more likely it will dawn on the participating senators, their staffs, testifying witnesses and the assembled MSMers that their words can be fact-checked almost instantaneously by the Blogosphere.

When Margolis and Goldstein hear Teddy Kennedy tossing around a fundamental misrepresentation of Judge Roberts on some point, the blogger can have it being analyzed by the Blogosphere within minutes and have the truth being reported within a few more minutes, perhaps even before Teddy finishes talking. The first time something like this happens will be the "61st Minute" of the Blogosphere doing to government what it has already done to the MSM.

What are we waiting for, bloggers?

UPDATE:

Patrick Ruffini is tracking blog and MSM posts on the hearings here.