Scott Johnson: The 61st Minute and Collective Intelligence

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Scott Johnson,

Powerline

Talk about knowing your audience. In making his remarks to a room full of political scientists at the American Political Science Association meeting this morning here in DC, Scott Johnson set the context by referring to Theodore White’s series of books on “The Making of the President.” Scott then gave us his own version of “The Making of the President 2004,” with a special Powerline chapter.

What a treat it was to hear Scott tell the story of his famous “Sixty-First Minute” post, which was the launch of Rathergate.

Knowing the end of the story, it’s fascinating to hear Scott talk about getting email from readers about the possibility that the Killian memos might be forgeries, writing up the post, and hitting the publish button “at 7:51.” Then, he says, he headed to work . . . only to find 50 emails from readers waiting for him by 8:30.

By 7:00 that night — less than twelve hours after he hit “publish,” the CBS execs were meeting in war council mode to strategize their next move.

Scott framed his remarks as a “case study in the power of the Internet” and said it was an example of the “collective intelligence” the web enables. I love that phrase.

He concluded by analogizing blogs to pamphlets from the Revolutionary Era, saying, of those writers, “many of whom were amateurs like us.”

Blogs, then, he said, are “back to the future.”

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