Today Bill Bradley provides a fascinating account of why the Obama campaign feels privately betrayed by The Huffington Post for their decision to publish the remarks he made about “bitter” Pennsylvanians.
The “bitter” quote was buried three quarters of the way into a citizen blogger (and Obama fan’s) account of the closed door fundraiser to which the press was not allowed.
61-year-old Mayhill Fowler has spent the last year hanging out with people in the Obama campaign and has travelled to several states, blogging for HuffPo’s “Off the Bus” project for “citizen journalists” about her experiences and perceptions of the campaign and candidate. As Bradley writes,”She was seen as an opinionated activist blogger, a supporter, someone who had a tendency at times to lecture the campaign in her copy but was ultimately an enthusiast. She was not viewed as a journalist.”
Fowler, who has contributed the maximum allowable $2,300 to Obama’s presidential campaign reportedly agonised over whether to publish the comments, but no-one, including Adrianna Huffington, predicted the media fire storm it would create.
So did The Huffington Post do the right thing in deciding to publish the off the cuff, private comments? Or are the Obama people underestimating the bloggers’ role in shaping the campaign dialogue, naively trusting them to behave as slavish fans instead of reporters?
HuffPo blogger betrayal — a tale of journalistic ethics: It’s one of the great ironies of the campaign. The resolutely pro-Obama Huffington Post, the site Barack Obama chose last month to put out his statement on Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s outrageous comments, this month is the source of one of his biggest campaign crises. Its namesake co-owner, the conservative-turned-liberal commentator profiled recently in the New York Times as “Citizen Huff,” Arianna Huffington, was on David Geffen’s yacht in Tahiti when the deal went down. — Bill Bradley, RealClearPolitics
The magic of misspeak: Along with its various derivatives, “misspeak” has become one of the signature verbal workhorses of this interminable political season, right up there with “narrative,” “Day One,” and “hope.” It carries the suggestion that, while the politician’s perfectly functioning brain has dispatched the correct signals, the mouth has somehow received and transmitted them in altered form. “Misspeak” is a powerful word, a magical word. It is a word that is apparently thought capable, in its contemporary political usage, of isolating a palpable, possibly toxic untruth, sealing it up in an airtight bag, and disposing of it harmlessly. — Hendrik Herztberg, The New Yorker
Cementing the future Democratic base: In Obama, the Democratic Party has a potential nominee who offers a unique opportunity to bring the younger generation firmly into the political process, to make many of its members lifelong Democrats and perhaps to lay the groundwork for a historic realignment on the scale of Roosevelt and Reagan. — Los Angeles Times
Can McCain make news?: So a major question for the campaign is: Can John McCain drive the news agenda? Every candidate is reactive to a certain extent: think George W. Bush having spring 2004 dominated by pictures of Abu Ghraib, or John Kerry trying to ignore the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, or both candidates responding to a video featuring Osama bin Laden in the final days of the campaign. But unless the news cycle naturally spotlights a candidate’s preferred issues — which, given the U.S. media’s political leanings, is always easier for Democrats than Republicans — a candidate sometimes needs to make their own news and force the chattering classes to focus on their issues. — NRO
The personification of artifice: Obama clearly misspoke. But there are really very few moments with him where I feel that he does not believe what he is saying — even when, as with his lame capitulation of leadership regarding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, I can’t respect it. With Clinton, on the other hand, those moments are frequent. She is forever saying things I either don’t believe or believe that even she doesn’t believe. She is the personification of artifice. — Richard Cohen, The Washington Post