An email from Mike Huben requested my take on the media and Trent Lott. It's been an interesting affair, so I'll reproduce my reply here:
Three words, Mike:
They probably weren't going to cover this story and just let it slide, but a few people were dogged about it, especially online.
I actually think that blogosphere politics had a hand in this one, although not in the way you'd think. The right side of the blogosphere has been making a lot of noise about how fairminded and forward-thinking they are, especially compared to the humorless and racist and sexist and P.C. left. (Nonsense, but bear with me.) Thing is, in this case, if they had let this go or tried to explain it away when people like Atrios were all over it like the proverbial cheap suit, there is absolutely no way that they could ever claim the moral high ground. So they jumped on it. (To be fair, most aren't that fond of racism anyway; neo-cons are more libertarian than that.)
Once the bloggers got on it, the dual-identity types got on it. (NRO, for example: Jonah Goldberg, among others, bridges the divide between blogging and mainstream media quite well.) After that, and the embarrassment of that Howie piece on WashPo.com, the mainstream media saw what was coming and jumped on board. Now, of course, Republicans are all over it, and so is the media. They don't want to be the guy who was stuck defending or ignoring Lott.
In all honesty, I'm tempted to pull a Glenn here and say "Advantage: Blogosphere!" I would, except I'm still ticked that Atrios never got any credit for his work on the story, even though that ballot bit was gold.
Ah well, at least it puts aside that whole "blogging is meaningless" meme. For a little while.