This article in the LA Times has more:
The bloggers used the usual tools of good journalists everywhere — determination, insight, ingenuity — plus a powerful new force that was not available to reporters until blogging came along: the ability to communicate almost instantaneously with readers via the Internet and to deputize those readers as editorial researchers, in effect multiplying the reporting power by an order of magnitude.
In December, Josh Marshall, who owns and runs TPM , posted a short item linking to a news report in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the firing of the
attorney for that state. U.S. Marshalllater followed up, adding that several U.S.attorneys were apparently being replaced and asked his 100,000 or so daily readers to write in if they knew anything about attorneys being fired in their areas. U.S.
For the two months that followed, Talking Points Memo and one of its sister sites, TPM Muckraker, accumulated evidence from around the country on who the axed prosecutors were, and why politics might be behind the firings. The cause was taken up among Democrats in Congress. One senior Justice Department official has resigned, and Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales is now in the media crosshairs.
This isn't the first time
and Talking Points have led coverage on national issues. In 2002, the site was the first to devote more than just passing mention to then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's claim that the country would have been better off had the segregationist 1948 presidential campaign of Sen. Strom Thurmond succeeded. The subsequent furor cost Lott his leadership position. Marshall
Similarly, the TPM sites were leaders in chronicling the various scandals associated with Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
. . .
In much of its work, TPM exhibits a clearly identified political agenda. In this, it is no different from dozens of other blogs across the political spectrum. It distinguishes itself by mixing liberal opinion with original reporting by its own staff and actively seeking information from its readers.
This was most apparent in 2004-05 when
turned the site's focus to President Bush's proposed privatization of Social Security. Marshall asked readers to survey their own members of Congress on the issue. This distributed reporting helped TPM compile rosters of where every member of Congress stood on the proposal, something no newspaper attempted. By making apparent the lack of enthusiasm for the plan, TPM helped kill it. Marshall
This is all true. Josh Marshall takes the collective knowledge of his readership and focuses it skillfully and precisely on certain key issues. He doesn’t pick up on every topic of the day; rather, he shapes political discourse by, on the one hand, picking at the threads of a story like the attorney purge or the Abramoff scandal persistently until it unravels, and on the other, pushing a consistent narrative of how each new development fits into the larger picture. The larger picture usually being Republican wrongdoing. The blog’s large and well-placed readership is the perfect muckraking tool, and I’m confident the attorney purge won’t be the last big story that first finds light at TPM.