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February 25, 2007

My Salon article: Why I wouldn't blog for John Edwards

Most of you don't know this, but I declined to blog for John Edwards before Amanda and Shakes were hired. You can read the whole story at Salon.

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» Inside scoop from Majikthise from Pharyngula
It looks like Lindsay Beyerstein dodged a bulletshe was offered the position with the Edwards campaign that Amanda Marcotte accepted, and she turned it down. It's a smart articlethere are some good lessons to be learned about blogs and po... [Read More]

» Just Say No to Campaign Blogging from L'Ombre de l'Olivier
One of the ladies on my blogroll, Majikthise, was asked to be the Edwards campaign blogger before Amanda Marcotte took the job. In Salon she explains why she didn't accept the offer. I would say that any blogger of any political persuasion would bene... [Read More]

» Blogging from the top down from lotusmedia 2.0
Salon has a very interesting article today by Lindsay Beyerstein of Majikthise on why she turned down the job that Amanda Marcotte briefly held with the Edwards campaign. She also addresses what she thinks is a major flaw in their online strategy: by ... [Read More]

» The Edwards Blogger Controversy from VirusHead
This morning, I read a great article at Salon by Lindsay Beyerstein (Majikthise) on why she refused the Edwards campaign blogging job the others accepted. I think her analysis of the issues was dead-on, and she figured it out in advance. I also thought... [Read More]

» Bullet dodged (not by me) from Respectful Insolence
It looks to me as though one of my favorite lefty bloggers, Majikthise (real name: Lindsay Beyerstein), dodged a bullet. In a Salon.com article, she describes how she originally was approached to blog for the John Edwards campaign. As you... [Read More]

Comments

Very insightful piece over at Salon. Yeah, it's starting to appear that Edwards' staff just doesn't have game; it's impossible for me to imagine that they could have been that clueless.

Especially with respect to Amanda. I've got a lot of respect for her, but she can be a bit much, even when I agree with her underlying point.

But whether they'd hired Amanda, or if they'd hired the lefty blogosphere equivalent of Kinsley or Colmes (if there IS such a thing), the bothersome thing is their having not thought ahead to the approach they would take if someone found something to criticize in the blogger's voluminous writings.

This all caught them by surprise, and it shouldn't have. And they came into this with an unsettling degree of naivete, especially considering that Elizabeth Edwards spends a fair amount of time reading and posting on blogs.

Anyway, you made what would have been the right decision for you, even if the Edwards campaign had had their act together. It's all good.

I don't think the comparison to your advertising work makes sense at all, Lindsay. When Edwards hired Amanda, she put up a post on Pandagon saying she chose to work for him because he would pursue the values she pursued on Pandagon. She then credited herself as a Pandagon blogger on Edwards' public site. And then the posts she sent out went out to the public under her real name, which she'd used for blogging.

On the other hand, you didn't endorse those products on this blog, you didn't identify yourself as a blogger here at the websites of your clients, and your ads didn't go out to the general public under your name.

Amanda was hired for her star power. That's not speculation on my part - that's what you yourself said in the Salon article. She was hired specifically because the Edwards campaign wanted to associate themselves with Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon. Sure, the job also had legit responsibilities. But her endorsement, persona, and blogosphere goodwill were clearly part of the bargain.

So your blacklisting comparison makes no sense. When a campaign or company hires someone for their endorsement and carryover goodwill, of course the person's earlier statements are relevant. That's what you're paying for. Edwards just happened to pay for something that was arguably less valuable than he'd estimated.

It'd certainly be wrong to refuse to hire Amanda to be your IT director or your VP of sales or something like that based on her statements. It certainly isn't wrong to refuse to hire her as your public spokesperson.

I don't think the comparison to your advertising work makes sense at all, Lindsay. When Edwards hired Amanda, she put up a post on Pandagon saying she chose to work for him because he would pursue the values she pursued on Pandagon.

At the risk of more embarrassment to myself; I think what Lindsay is saying is that Amanda was paid to sell John Edwards to the public. In that manner it is very much the same as advertising. I have a friend who does PR and she will tell you her industry follows politics. As well as pop culture. They have to stay on top of what people are into. Amanda wasn't getting paid to sell her views on the Virgin Mary or her personal blog.

Melissa McEwan has been a supporter of my blog. Litbrit writes at my site and Shakespeare's Sister. It was horrifying for us to see Shakes go through the death threats. I have no problem with disageement over political views. Death threats are just pure evil.

Yes, in that manner it was very much like Lindsay's work in advertising. In other manners, it's similar to, say, my mother's work as a middle school teacher, or my significant other's work in art supply, or Dick Cheney's work as Vice President of the United States. However, in important, determinative ways, which I listed, it was different from Lindsay's work in advertising, so I don't see your point.

Great article, and dead-on with respect to our involvement with the Webb campaign.

When they hired me, I basically told them that if they wanted me I'd be there fighting like hell. But if they didn't, there'd be absolutely no difference.

The toughest tightrope for me was blogging while on the campaign. I wanted to fight, but didn't want to say anything to embarass Jim. I was basically hired to do field work and coordinate the 18,000 volunteers who stepped up. My blogging rapidly approached zero. Lowell had the hard part. He walked the tightrope, and it got very bloody. I never envied him his out-in-front position. He got as much press as Allen's campaign manager. I still don't know how he survived.

Great article, Lindsay. Though your conclusion bummed me out a bit. I always hope that blogging will lead to some sort of a paid gig for young bloggers.

Yep, great article, Lindsay, and knowing that you were approached makes me re-judge the Edwards campaign, though not in a good way. Campaign blogs need moderators, not authorial voices, so I presumed that Amanda and possibly Shakes were recruited for their group-blogging experience.

Also, the asymmetry between the liberal blogosphere and the RW message machine, that collection of well-funded false-front 501(c)(3) orgs, needs to be addressed by 2008, because there are dozens of wingnut surrogates on six-figure salaries just waiting for the call.

Steve Gilliard (get well soon, man) has been vocal on this gap: the Bradley and Scaife foundations, among others, prop up the message machine and keep their figureheads at the top of the bookers' lists, and they either need to be knocked off their podiums or have competition. And competing requires money.

so it would have been more difficult for Bill Donohue to make a controversy around her.

Yeah, because he's never bloviated about secular Jews who hate Christianity. Oh.

IIRC, 300K is Donohue's salary. the budget of the Catholic League is probably a good bit more.

It received $3m in contributions in 2005. Meaning that Donohue gets 10%, his deputy gets 5%, and a few good little soldiers get another chunk. It's the classic wingnut 501(c)(3): an organisation that basically exists to employ a high-profile wingnut blowhard, ably assisted by a couple of helpers and all the lazy journalists and media bookers in Manhattan and DC.

One last clarification: campaign blogs don't need distinctive authorial voices, in the sense that they shouldn't divert attention from the crafted 'voice of the campaign', which is an approximation of the candidate's voice. (Or as Zack Exley suggests, the candidate's voice without crafting at all.)

Campaign blogs do need to be tightly and carefully moderated, not least because they're likely to attract readers and commenters who aren't spending time commenting elsewhere.

Excellent piece Lindsay, thanks for the valuable insight.

The Edwards campaign is hardly "sunk" for not having you and your ilk working for the campaign.

Nobody but a tiny number of people even care about bloggers and their "ethics" or lack of them.

Edwards can be grateful he doesn't have your baggage or Marcotte's or McEwan's.

For the wingnut up there who wonders about popular right wingers calling for the assassination of political opponents, here's a nice little list for you, and that's just the start. Let's see. Anne Coulter wanted Clinton assassinated, as well as the entire editorial staff of the New York Times. Bill O'Reilly wanted Michael Kinsley assassinated. Rush Limbaugh wants all but two liberals to be killed (the two remaining liberals are to be placed in a museum). Pat Robertson and Sean Hannity are of course famous for calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, who, like him or not, was democratically elected as President of Venezuela (hmm, why do right-wingers hate democracy?!). John Derbyshire of the National Review called for the assassination of Chelsea Clinton. About the only right wing media personality who has *not* called for the death of someone in that "oh shucks, you know, it'd be great if someone assassinated person X" manner that they use to call for assassinations is Michelle Malkin. She merely wants to intern opponents of Dear Leader as "enemies of the state", indeed, wrote an entire book defending the idea. I suppose that makes her the moral paragon of right-wing punditry. Which says something about right wing punditry, I suppose.

Great, insightful article.

I agree with NickM, well done.

Excellent piece, Lindsay!

I have yet to observe anyone from Left Blogistan substantiate their accusations of smearing and quoting Amanda "out-of context." (Citing previous posts that have since become a political liability/embarrassment is neither.)

You must have not bothered to read the actual post from which Donohue lifted the Q & A about Mary and Plan B and the hot, sticky Holy Spirit: the Q&A was a picture caption, patterned after the Q&A in a pamphlet about contraception friends of hers had gotten from the Church during a pre-Cana retreat. The post was a substantive critique of the outright lies and scientific/medical misinformation in the pamphlet, which is apparently now part of the official pre-Cana counseling routine. The caption mocked not only the format of the pamphlet, but the medical misinformation and the distrust of women evident when one of the arguments against Plan B is "What if Mary had taken Plan B?" Because if you believe the whole Virgin Birth thing, the idea that Mary, who was immaculately conceived just to receive the son of God later in her life, could thwart the plans of God by taking Plan B shows a startling lack of faith in Mary.

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