Edwards’s Bloggers Making More News Than Candidate
After several days of criticism from the right side of the blogosphere, John Edwards’ blog outreach team is now coming under fire from the Catholic League, which is demanding that Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan be fired for anti-Catholic comments written on their blogs, Pandagon and Shakespeare’s Sister. Bill Donohue issued a statement saying, “John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots.”
As more campaigns (and corporations and PR firms) get aboard the “blogger relations” bandwagon, the natural impulse is to hire established bloggers. Hillary Clinton has hired Peter Daou, John McCain has Patrick Hynes, Rudy Giuliani has Patrick Ruffini, and the Senate Republicans have hired Jon Henke, who was also brought on too late to do George Allen much good.
Having top bloggers on the staff makes sense, because these people have demonstrated not only that they have the ability to express themselves in writing but that they “get” blogging. As a bonus, they probably have a network of other bloggers that they can reach out to with more credibility than some flack on the communications staff.
At the same time, however, there is a serious downside that Edwards is now discovering: Bloggers have a “paper” trail. The longer someone has been blogging, the more of their sometimes-developed thoughts are out there for public consumption. Not only have they likely written things uncomplimentary to their now-boss, but they have almost certainly written things that could embarrass him. At the very least, as Marcotte and McEwan are demonstrating, the bloggers can wind up taking the attention away from the candidate’s message.
UPDATE: WaPo has picked up the story, too, via the AP wire.
More blog coverage of the controversy:
- Patrick Frey digs up the offending quotes from Marcotte and McEwan. They’re pretty vulgar, frankly, even from a non-religious perspective.
- Barbara O’Brien sees intimidation at work here and observes that, “Donohue hates everybody who isn’t the Pope.”
- Bruce McQuain (Henke’s former blogmate) writes, “My guess is that both Marcotte and McEwan would wear such accusations by a religious group as badges of honor if they were still blogging at their own respective blogs.”
McQuain also points out this, which I had missed in the NYT story: “Mr. Edwards’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said Tuesday night that the campaign was weighing the fate of the two bloggers.”