Orin asks whether bloggers are influencing the Miers debate. Last week we were honored to have Attorney General Gonzales speak at George Mason Law School, where he addressed the subject of judicial confirmations. The full text of his remarks is available here.
Here's what the AG had to say on the specifc subject of blogs and other new media:
The confirmation process has been fundamentally changed by technological changes that allow the instantaneous and costless spread of information. In this age of the 24-hour news cycle of blogs, talk radio, and cable news, there is a seemingly constant vacuum to be filled with new information on the nominee. Much of this revolution is for the good, as it allows the public to develop a more informed view. But there are harmful effects as well. Unsubstantiated rumors, false allegations, and distorted facts can be spread with impunity by those who don't take the time to check the facts-as well as by those who affirmatively seek to mislead. And once such baseless claims and innuendo are made, the Internet ensures that they take on a life of their own and can never be fully rooted out.
In light of these changes, those who traffic in information owe all Americans a duty to act in good faith, to avoid circulating falsehoods, and to verify information before broadcasting it. The careers and reputations of good people depend on that. And I urge the Senate to exercise discipline in its consideration of judicial nominations. It is important that amidst all of the static surrounding a nominee, the Senate focus on the characteristics that are essential to good judging, seek out reliable information, and maintain the dignity of a process that is essential to our democracy.
My recollection is that he returned to the subject of blogs in the Q&A and reiterated largely the same points, but I could be mistaken. If anyone is reading who was in attendance at the speech as well, feel free to elaborate on or correct me on that point.
There was also the comment by Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice (quoted in the New York Times on Oct. 9), who said that generating enthusiasm for Ms. Miers was proving difficult because "anytime we put out something positive about her it gets shot to pieces by all our allies and the blogs."
So, I obviously don't know the answer to the larger question. And I certainly don't know if legal blogs are having much influence relative to poltical blogs such as Red State or National Review (which are also different from one another, of course). But both of these bits suggest that at the very least the White House is aware of what is happening in the blogosphere, even if it is not influenced by it.