Having caught the scent of a juicy story from the MSM (mainstream media) to bite into, the bloggers were waiting to pounce like a pack of hounds behind the butcher shop. On Sept. 7, the day before the CBS broadcast, left-leaning blog talkingpointsmemo.com announced that 60 Minutes was to air "documents that shed light on Bush's guard service or lack thereof." The following afternoon, bloggers at freerepublic.com a conservative website, began anticipating the coverage with comments such as, "CBS should have to register as a Democrat [campaign organization]." Minutes into the broadcast, another Free Republic blogger (known as a freeper on the site) questioned the authenticity of the CBS documents. A few hours later, yet another offered plausible evidence of fakery: the CBS documents could not have been produced by typewriters available at the time. "These documents are forgeries," said the writer. "This should be pursued aggressively."
The comments were penned by someone known online as Buckhead. And they might have languished had it not been for powerlineblog.com a well-trafficked right-wing website that linked to Buckhead's claims. The rumblings filtered up to Matt Drudge, who linked to Power Line, setting off a surge of publicity. Soon 500 other blogs had linked to Power Line. Among the assertions: 1970s-era typewriters couldn't have produced the superscript th that appears in the memos (this was later disproved). The next afternoon, both the Washington Post and ABC News carried stories about the postings. The mysterious Buckhead had become a folk hero among red-blogged Americans.
But the mystery didn't last long. As first reported in the Los Angeles Times, Buckhead is Harry MacDougald, 46, a conservative, big-firm lawyer from Atlanta with a history of pugnacious activism. As an advisory-board member for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, he helped write the group's petition to disbar Bill Clinton and worked with former Clinton prosecutor Kenneth Starr to challenge a federal campaign-finance law. As the online avenger Buckhead, he has described Clinton as the "Ozark Caligula." Now identified, MacDougald shuns media attention; as one of his postings claimed, perhaps disingenously: "It wasn't me, it was the swarm." --By Joshua Macht. With reporting by Mark Coatney and Nathan Thornburgh/ New York and Viveca Novak/Washington