The Death of The October Surprise

By GotDesign
Ever since the 1980 Reagan-Carter election, there has been an October Surprise -- the attempt to bring out derogatory or injurious information about a candidate in the weeks just prior to the national elections in early November. Was Reagan secretly negotiating for the release of American hostages in Iran? Iran-Contra. George W. Bush's DUI. The continuing attempt to derail a candidate just prior to the elections has been with us for over 20 years now. But, unless there is iron clad evidence proving the allegations, I think the days of the October Surprise are numbered.

Today, we have a set of much more responsive media outlets that have not previously existed or are just now gaining effectiveness. I'm talking about the Bloggosphere and Talk Radio. We've been waiting to find out what the October Surprise will be for the 2004 elections. The biggest story to come out this week has been the New York Times' report of the supposed failure of American troops to secure high explosives that were being stored at the al Qaqaa military complex. 60 Minutes had initially planned to out this story on the evening prior to the elections, but the program's producer felt the story "wouldn't hold." But, the bloggosphere is all over this story like white on rice. Hugh Hewitt, Powerline, Froggy Ruminations are among the leaders in the bloggosphere in covering this non-story -- or more appropriately, this obvious attempt to manufacture a story to derail the Bush Campaign.

Talk Radio has also been hot on this story. Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, and Rush Limbaugh (among others) have also been indispensable in breaking and covering this story. Even the major news networks have jumped on board. Who would have thought that NBC and CNN would work to debunk a story that is so supportive of their innate political positions.

Ever since the CBS RatherGate episode I have been wondering about the changing nature of the American media. Dan Rather rushed a story to air when the supporting documentation was proven to be forged and had been questioned as such within 2 hours of breaking the story. How can anyone create or engineer an October Surprise, especially when the facts of the issue are questionable, in the current atmosphere of instantaneous investigation provided by bloggers everywhere? Unless such information is proven to be factual beyond a shadow of a doubt (in which case I would see it as part of the legitimate candidate vetting process of the campaign), I think the October Surprise is on its last leg.

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