Cons working together across the blogs
by Jerome Armstrong, Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 01:22:21 PM EDT
The event was suggested in a GOP leadership cmte meeting last week, where different methods of blogger outreach was discussed. David All, spokesperson for Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), suggested inviting bloggers to the event for a "radio row"-style event, which they dubbed "Blog Row." Logistics were handled by House GOP Conf. media coord. Kathryn Staczek, who worked with Office of the Maj. Leader spokesperson Ben Porritt, RNC eCommunications dir. Patrick Ruffini and others to make it happen. Asked whether the Instapundit/TTLB PorkBusters project (see previous coverage) directly inspired the event, Staczek tells the Blogometer: "Yes and no. We were aware of the growing attention the blogosphere was giving to fiscal issues, but equally aware it is difficult to get mainstream media to focus the same attention."
The Blogometer attended, along with Justin Hart of Right Side Redux, Ian Schwartz of The Political Teen, Matt Margolis of Blogs for Bush, Eric Pfeiffer of NRO's The Buzz, Matthew Sheffield of MRC's News Busters, Tim Chapman and Mary Katherine Ham of Townhall.com, Pat Cleary and David Kralik from lobby org. NAM, writing for their Manufacturers Blog and also representing RedState, Kevin Aylward of Wizbang, and the presumably pseudonymous Flip of Suitably Flip.
After being assembled at the House GOP Conf. office at the Cannon HOB, the bloggers were led across the street to a room in the Capitol. Ethernet access, comfortable chairs and snacks were provided. At 11 a.m., Louie Gohmert (TX) presented himself as "the first victim." And on the issue of Harriet Miers, he somewhat was. A former TX judge himself, Gohmert expressed support for Miers' nod, but in slow, carefully-worded sentences, sticking to talking points about her character, leaving the impression that his support was less than enthusiastic.
The GOPers who followed: Mike Pence (IN), Deborah Pryce (OH), Kevin Brady (TX), David Dreier (CA), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), Kingston, Phil Gingrey (GA), Steve Pearce (NM), Scott Garrett (NJ), Chris Chocola (IN), Trent Franks (AZ), Dan Lungren (CA), Mark Kennedy (MN), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Katherine Harris (FL), Chris Cannon (UT), Bob Inglis (SC), Joe Wilson (SC), Jeb Hensarling (TX), John Carter (TX), Mike Conaway (TX), and Eric Cantor (VA).Read on, and you'll see the plans for "sending "feeds" to bloggers on the conservative side from House GOP spokespersons. I think it's gonna take the GOP being in the minority to really get the coordination of blogs effectively. Right now, Democrats only vaguely grasp them. Republicans are much more apt to seem them as traditional media vehicles and use them to propogate misinformation, which only serves to sever any credibility the blogger might have. Witness their shameless use of Walt Bell in Virgnia to spread flat out lies as an example, but it's worth understanding their efforts.
House GOP spokespersons said they plan to start sending "feeds" to bloggers -- not just talking points, but audio and video tape as well. To demonstrate the last point, they passed around a video iPod (drawing a few oohs and ahs) playing video from a recent presser featuring Speaker Denny Hastert. (We couldn't help poking around to see what kind of music was on the House GOP iPod -- music from "The Lion King," Michael/Janet Jackson's "Scream," Smash Mouth, Dave Matthews Band ... likely all preset music from Apple.)
Events such as these highlight the blurring lines of journalism. It was aimed at amateur bloggers, but they weren't the only ones invited: Pfeiffer from National Review, Ham and Chapman from Town Hall, which started as a collection of conservative opinion columns before expanding to include Chapman's Capitol Report and Ham's C-Log. But at least they're in media to begin with. The presence of Cleary and Kralik complicate things more. All bloggers come with an agenda. But of those present, only NAM came with clients. Just as interacting with blogs is an alternate way for politicians to reach constituents, so too is blogging an alternative method for interest groups to influence the political process. Just as the NRA has moved into online radio, these individuals and orgs. are just the first few through the gates. The old media universe has been declared dead time already, but it probably won't be time to affix the toe tag until their colleagues follow through the gates.
Whether intended or not, the nature of the event likely had a disarming affect on the bloggers present. Not just the procession of luminaries and the swank digs (with a great view down the Mall, as GOP handlers pointed out more than once), but also the parade of news cameras and MSM journalists who attended the middle stretch. Add to that, the caucus also filmed and photographed the event for its own purposes. While the interest in forging ties with amateur bloggers seemed genuine, it was also a rolling photo-op -- for the benefit of not just the MSM, but the blogosphere as well.