Old and new media clashed on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday.
After CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes blamed Andrew Breitbart for her network's slow response to the ongoing Weinergate scandal, Gawker staff writer Maureen O'Connor said, "I think even if that's the case, it was very quickly that you could have looked into this story and verified it for yourself" (video follows with trancript and commentary):
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: So what about Jeff’s point, I mean, did this deserve air time on the CBS Evening News or not?
NANCY CORDES, CBS NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we actually didn't cover it on Saturday, on Sunday, on Monday, on Tuesday because there were a lot of red flags to the story. As you have pointed out as well.
KURTZ: Maybe he was a victim.
CORDES: Maybe he was a victim. He insisted from the very beginning he had nothing to do with this, it was a prank. The person who reported it, Andrew Breitbart, has a history of taking Democrats out of context and smearing them. The person who discovered this…
KURTZ: That was not the case here though.
CORDES: The person who discovered the tweet, except, but that was a reason people were going slow on the story.
KURTZ: So, you were wary?
CORDES: We were wary?
Moments later, Gawker’s O’Connor struck back:
KURTZ: Maureen, do you see a serious side to this outside the world of Gawker, or is this story kind of shear entertainment?
MAUREEN O’CONNOR, STAFF WRITER FOR GAWKER: You know, one thing I do take issue with is, as Nancy mentioned, at first people didn't take the story seriously because it showed up on Andrew Breitbart’s website, and they say he has a history of trying to smear people. I think even if that's the case, it was very quickly that you could have looked into this story and verified it for yourself. It didn't take a lot of effort to realize that Anthony Weiner admitted, yes, this showed up in my Twitter feed. So, it clearly wasn't some kind of like imaginary thing. He admitted, yes, this happened.
So, I think that it makes sense that people did ask questions, and after that, once he answered his questions, it was by the time he got to interview four, five. That’s where it was in his power to make it stop if he wanted to, but all of a sudden we have this man who seems to want to give many, many interviews about his own genitals. So, I think on that hand, that's why in the beginning it was a relevant story. And I think it is important for people, even if a story burbles up through an untraditional, non-mainstream medium, if it seems like a real story, I think people do have an obligation to investigate it.
Indeed, but that didn't prevent a number of news outlets from fixating on Breitbart to minimize the seriousness of this issue. Not coincidentally, as NewsBusters reported Thursday, Cordes was part of that red herring.
But as O'Connor accurately noted, regardless of what one of the original sources was, this was an easy issue to investigate the veracity of, and all this finger-pointing at Breitbart as the reason for why some news outlets were slow on the uptake is nonsense.
O'Connor knows what she speaks, as she was the person that first published the now infamous picture of a shirtless Congressman Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) leading to his resignation.