One of the Drawbacks to the Internet: The Next Big Thing Factor

There is a major drawback to blogs, the Internet, even up-to-the-minute cable news. Oh, it isn’t a drawback specific to those venues but it is one that makes itself felt sooner and with a woeful result there. I call it “the next big thing factor.” It is that state of being so hungry to post “the next big thing” that good sense and often the facts become less important than being first and loudest with the story.

In the Internet age this problem leads often to the sensational story that deflates on the facts, the “fact” that isn’t one, or the incident that never really happened. Recently a whole bunch of liberals fell for this sort of error and David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner had a bit of fun slapping them around over it.

It seems the nutty left-o-sphere got its panties in a bunch over the “fact” that Representative Michelle Bachmann (R, Minn.) attempted to torpedo a resolution in the House that celebrated the 50th anniversary of Hawaii becoming a state. And why would she do this, you might wonder? Well according to the profane snarks at Wonkette, it’s because Bachmann is a “birther” out to punish Hawaii for having been the non-birthplace of Barack Obama. They just couldn’t understand why anyone would try to postpone such a resolution and decided that there MUST be something nefarious afoot, dontcha know?

Amazing things have happened in the House this afternoon; go read all of what Sam Stein wrote, here, he’s good at these things. Briefly, though: Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii — former buddy of Barack Obama Senior! — introduced a resolution “Recognizing and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the entry of Hawaii into the Union as the 50th State,” which now includes the line, “Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii…” SO WHAT’S IT GONNA BE, GOP congressmen with insane constituents?? Apparently they need some time to think about this standard symbolic resolution, because Michele Bachmann blocked the quick and easy passage of it on the floor this afternoon. Why would she do that?

Yes, it’s an evil, evil plot by wild-eyed conservative birthers the “wits” at Wonkette imagined. From there, quite a few wits or halves thereof picked up the “story” and burned up the intertubes with the evilness of Bachmann.

So what was really the deal here? Was Bachmann trying to put a stake in the Hawaii resolution?

Uh, no. Not really.

You see, Bachmann asked for a postponement of a vote on the resolution because there wasn’t a quorum in the chamber. As Freddoso explains, there is almost never a quorum in the morning session and it is entirely routine to postpone votes on resolutions until later in the day when there is a quorum. Additionally, once the afternoon session started, Bachmann was a yes vote for the thing anyway.

So, the “story” really ends up being that Wonkette and the panty-twisted lefties on the Internet have no clue how the House works and that what Bachmann did had zippo to do with ideology and everything to do with common House procedures.

So, why did Wonkette and its ilk make themselves look so stupid? Well, now I can get back to my “the next big thing factor.” You see, Wonkette wanted the next big story that would propel it to become first on everyone’s mind for the day, first or loudest for finding and exposing evil conservatives being evil conservatives. Unfortunately, in the rush to be loudest, they totally missed the truth of the matter and ended up with egg on their faces. They revealed their own ignorance.

As I said, this isn’t specific to the Internet. It is more like a human failing than a technical one. After all, inventors, writers, artists, actors, politicians, people of all sorts have suffered this for time immemorial. Some may think of this problem as a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately problem. We remember the great album by that great band, but they are forgotten unless they give us the next great album. Yet that long forgotten band still yearns for the spotlight again and will do anything to get it back. Or maybe we get a Britney Spears moment where her aberrant behavior gets her noticed, but the next incident isn’t good enough to drive her publicity machine so she has to ramp up the foolishness even further to still get noticed.

Heck, I even fell for this failing myself once when I posted a story about something I thought Obama did and it turned out it was a late Bush policy I was reacting to. Unlike Wonkette, though, I owned up to it immediately and apologized for my misreading and rush to publish and offered no excuse but that I just plain muffed it up.

Anyway, the point here is that the Internet, with its lightening speed and its ideologically polarized audience, is prone to this sort of thing in double time mode. But the Wonkers did us a favor with their poor skills at reporting. They have reminded us once again to be very skeptical of every “story” we see and to take the time to get the facts on our own.

So, don’t let “the next big thing factor” bite you. Don’t believe just anything you read at first sight. We have a republic, “if we can keep it.” So, let’s all do our due diligence, shall we?

And above all, take Wonkette with a grain of salt. No, better get a truckload.

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