The journalists of the MSM do provide the first draft of history. And there is no doubt that their biased, slanted propaganda efforts will influence future drafts when they are written. But those efforts will be graded.
Ultimately, the real story of Katrina will be known. Historians will have access to a tremendous amount of official documentation, recorded recollections and amateur video. Comparisons between what was reported and what really happened will be made. I don't think the reputations of the MSM will be enhanced in the process.
MSM partisans may try to defend the poor qualtity of their work by pointing out that the situation in a crisis is hectic, information is incomplete and uncoordinated, and access to the area difficult if not impossible. But for the blogosphere, these excuses might be persuasive.
Ever since Dan Rather's exposure as a fraud and Eason Jordan's removal from CNN, it is impossible for establishment journalists to feign ignorance of blogs. CNN runs news segments highlighting what blogs are covering and prominent bloggers routinely appear on cable news. Even those MSM news organizations which strive for a mere minimim level of journalistic competence have someone monitoring the major blogs throughout the day in order to mine them for story ideas.
So those future historians who grade the quality of the journalism produced on Katrina will be able to compare the MSM coverage to the contemporaneous blog record. Stories such as the one about the unused buses in New Orleans will be judged by how long (if ever) it took for the news organization to run it after it spread through the blogosphere. Historians will measure how well news organizations corrected their errors when the errors were exposed on the internet.
I don't think the grade will make many journalists proud. And considering how low that bar is, investors in MSM corporations will likely lose their lunches.
I often wonder if journalists ever take a moment to contemplate that their work will ultimately be graded. It sure doesn't seem like they do. History will not be kind. Perhaps we would get a better journalistic product, if we reminded them that history is watching. Lately, they've been earning an "F". And they are going to be left back.