FAIR founder Jeff Cohen spots (Huffington Post, 11/5/08) a major factor in this election season that he thinks "is now so second-nature to us that we may overlook its transformative impact since just four years ago: the Internet and the progressive online boom":
The media terrain has changed dramatically since 2004, when Matt Drudge dominated the Net with his anti-Kerry vendetta. Today HuffingtonPost–which didn't even launch until 2005–gets more visitors than Drudge. While conservative and establishment pundits still dominate TV and radio, progressive dominance of the Internet has made it easier for media critics and bloggers to instantly rebut the kind of hoaxes and smears that so damaged Gore and Kerry.
This time Swift-Boating was often countered–as when Obama refused to be eclipsed by TV clips of Rev. Wright and made his speech on race that became the top video on You Tube (1.5 million views, 4,000 comments in 36 hours.) With Wright a media obsession, indy journalists from Glenn Greenwald to David Corn exposed McCain's bigoted preacher/endorsers.
Years ago, right-wing smears would flow up the food chain from Drudge to Fox News/talk radio into mainstream media.
Looking "beyond their partisan role in this year's election," Cohen writes that "independent media also took the lead in using the Web to furnish objective source material." One excellent example: "Huffington Post's Off the Bus recorded and uploaded the previously press-only conference calls from both the Obama and McCain camps so members of the public could hear how campaign leaders spin the press."