Kevin Drum writes:
Like a Kabuki story, though, you can already see how this is going to play out. Not only will Thomas's character be dragged savagely through the mud (Michelle Malkin is leading the charge over at her site), but eventually some small part of Thomas's account will turn out to be slightly exaggerated and the right will erupt in righteous fervor. They were right all along! Thomas did make up his stories! The left does hate the troops! The war is going swimmingly! At least, it would be if the MSM weren't undermining it at every turn.
But it's worse than that, eh. People want to know what's happening on the ground in Iraq. And every day, you have official sources willing to tell you that things are improving, everyone's hopeful, the troops want to win, Go Army!, why do you hate America?, support the mission, etc. Meanwhile, Iraq is actually way too dangerous for even a very enterprising western reporter to just kind of wander around the country observing things and reporting them independently. For certain kinds of information, one needs to be able to rely on the statements of people in the military.
What the right is trying to do is establish a precedent where if you say things the right doesn't want to hear anonymously then you'll be treated with a presumption of guilt. No matter how vindicated the article may be, it's still the case that TNR expended a lot of person-hours on re-verifying things even though nobody on the right raised any serious reason to doubt the story other than that it wasn't something they wanted to believe. It's extremely difficult to operate that way, and people won't want to. But suppose you do identify yourself. Then you get the full Michelle Malkin treatment -- character slimed, all kinds of personal details splayed across the internet, don't say you weren't warned. Thus, we'll have all our information coming from official sources, just as the right likes it (until, of course, there's a Democratic administration).