My example was Kevin Drum asking about the governor of Alaska. Come one, all Kevin Drum has to say is that he's with Mother Jones magazine. He is with Mother Jones magazine. That's all the entr'ee he needs, and it's far more than most bloggers have.
As a freelance journalist I face this problem all the time -- how do you poke around and find out enough information to see if there's a story, when you don't yet have an assignment and can't say you're writing for X magazine? Well, you just screw up your courage and do it. You just say you're a freelance journalist looking into a possible story. Call yourself a "citizen journalist" if you must.
I thought bloggers took pride in being "citizen journalists."
If traditional newspaper journalism is dying, then citizen journalism is one of the models that is going to take its place. And if you want to be a citizen journalist you need to be no less bulldogged, courageous, and (when it's called for) pissy than traditional journalists. Those in authority won't want to answer your questions either way. They never have. That's exactly why you're needed.
At the very least, you're a citizen, aren't you? Start acting like one. Because they are counting on your docility.
So if you're a blogger, especially from a major magazine or even a major blog (like Crooked Timber certainly is), or you just want to make a difference, get over your fear and make some calls anyway. Already we see that people are responding to blogs and their worth -- Obama called on the Huffington Post in his first press conference, didn't he?