Lott retiring from the Senate?

NBC News has learned that Trent Lott's in the midst of informing close allies that he plans to resign his senate seat before the end of the year. It's possible a formal announcement of his plans could take place as early as today.

Like a child that is losing a game, he'll take his ball and stomp off home in the Mississippi mud. If this rumor is true, it will make for another open Senate seat for the broke, and broken, GOP to defend in the next round of "kick the bums out!" (h/t C&L)

Left and right Bloggers will remember Lott fondly when he is gone... For his scalping:

O’Keefe’s judgment later won out. Pack judgment was wrong— in this case, extremely so. Lott became the first majority leader in Senate history to resign under pressure. How it all happened is told in the new case study from Harvard’s Kennedy School, “Big Media” Meets the “Bloggers.” (By Esther Scott, supervised by Alex Jones of the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government. Available only in pdf form here.)

My favorite moment in the story is when O’Keefe’s counterpart at another network asks a more senior producer in the Washington bureau to look at what Lott said that evening at Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. “No, I don’t think it’s anything” says the more experienced pro.

This gave O’Keefe some pause, causing him to second-guess his judgment. “I think there is something to the [notion] of pack journalism,” he reflects, “of individuals believing that if something is noteworthy, … everyone will get it… If they didn’t all get it, then it couldn’t possibly be a newsworthy item.”

The conservative writer David Frum would later call Lott’s words, “the most emphatic repudiation of desegregation to be heard from a national political figure since George Wallace’s first presidential campaign.” But when “everyone” didn’t get it, O’Keefe began to doubt himself. That’s how group think works.

The Harvard study has gotten notice in Blogistan, but its stingy formatting (the pdf is encrypted and won’t allow you to cut and paste) has been discussed in greater depth than the story it tells, perhaps because we think the events are well known. According to legend—partially confirmed by the report—webloggers from Left and Right were responsible for pushing the Trent Lott story into the news, after the mainstream media missed it.

“The Internet’s First Scalp” said John Podhoretz in the New York Post. That’s hyperbole, but the report makes clear that webloggers had a crucial role. It also delimits and describes that role. Now we know more precisely why—and when—the bloggers were needed.

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