Cons working together across the blogs

Just in case you think Republicans are not catching on that they are behind here:

House GOPers met 10/20 with conservative bloggers on Capitol Hill, the first event of its kind for the caucus. It was the 2nd officially sanctioned GOP blog event since the '04 GOP convo in NYC, following last week's RNC conf. call with Ken Mehlman (see 10/13 Blogometer). This event was both an attempt to make a connection with friendly bloggers, call attention to fiscal matters and, not least, make sure both the MSM and bloggers know that they're doing so.

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.
The agenda -- allow us to quote from the official release -- included the House GOP "record of successful economic policies, their commitment to fiscal responsibility, and the details of the historic proposed budget amendment." And indeed there was much talk of spending regarded as pork. PorkBusters itself was not mentioned until 1:03 p.m. -- after the planned ending point. (The meeting went 45 minutes over.) But the topic itself came up very early. Margolis asked, "Why did it take Katrina to make people aware of government pork?" The growth of gov't spending is an ever-present complaint of libertarians and economic conservatives, but if Katrina changed anything for the GOP, it has been renewed awareness of spending priorities. But there was considerable concern that awareness would not produce anything, and several reps. insisted they would see that something be changed. As chair of the GOP Study Cmte, which has seized the initiative on calling for more fiscal discipline from within the House, Pence said he was "encouraged but not satisfied." And what happened to Pres. Bush's Soc Sec plans, one blogger asked? It's "elective surgery," came the answer. During the meeting, word came down that the Coburn Amendment -- which would move funds from 2 AK bridges, including the so-called "bridge to nowhere" (see 10/20 Blogometer) to rebuild the main bridge across Ponchartrain in New Orleans -- was defeated on the Senate floor. Few reps. expressed enthusiasm about the project, spearheaded by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), who did not attend the blogger meeting. One said, "I don't know the rationale for building that project, but I am highly committed to" reducing spending.

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.


Tags: Republicans (all tags)

Comments

13 Comments

Ultimately
what the GOP is doing with that effort is building coalitions among like minded ideologues from differing venues.

 Will the Democrats ever learn how to build coalitions? All the Democrats ever seem to do is demand that everyone give up their ideals and capitulate to the right wing status quo leadership of the Party.

by aahpat 2005-10-21 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Ultimately
Unfortunetly, you are correct. The neocons, in taking control of the Republican Party and leading them to wins, insist on one message for any given issue. And now that they are starting to realize the potential of the internet, you better believe that they want to coordinate these blogs with their radio and TV outlets to produce the same message.
by blogus 2005-10-22 03:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Ultimately
While the Dems drrol over the GOPer machine they consistently FORGET one thing... GOPers play to their base not against like the Democratic leadership... that is why the coordination of the left blogosphere is meeting with resistence... well what did they really expect after pummelling women, anti-war, gays and blacks... perhaps they should take a better look at what the Gopers are really doing not just what they want to do to get more corporate lobbying contracts.
by Parker 2005-10-24 01:36AM | 0 recs
Necessary?
I think rightwing blogs are behind liberal blogs b/c of the simple fact that conservatives have a lot more venues to push and hear their ideas than we do.

They've got already got talk radio, Fox News, the Washingon Times, NY Post, Opinion Journal, etc.

We don't have anything comparable (except for the recent emergence of AAR). What we have are mainstream sources which can go either way -- the NY Times may publish columns by Paul Krugman and Frank Rich, but they also publish columns by John Tierney and David Brooks. 60 Minutes may bring on Richard Clarke, but they also bring on Louis Freeh.

Basically, I don't see rightwing blogs as being necessary to the Noise Machine. Yes, they do need some Internet presence, but it's not vital to them.

by LiberalFromPA 2005-10-21 01:58PM | 0 recs
Brilliant
FUCK! They stole my idea. That will teach me not to remove my tin foil hat.

This will be a very effective tactic.

by ignatzmouse 2005-10-21 01:58PM | 0 recs
I gotta tell ya...
I'm as reliable a Dem as they got, but if I was asked by them to drink the Kool Aid and write what they wanted me to write; I'd tell them to shove it.

This type of manipulation is probably inevitable, but if a solid majority of we bloggers refuse to be made tools of either party, we'll retain our influence.

This is precisely what is killing the MSM right now.

Don't sell out! I don't care if you're a lib or con, don't sell out.

March to your own drummer I say...or hop if it suits you. Today on EWM: Fitzgerald Issues Frog-Marching Guidelines

by The Muse 2005-10-21 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: I gotta tell ya...
"This type of manipulation is probably inevitable, but if a solid majority of we bloggers refuse to be made tools of either party, we'll retain our influence."

Dead on.

The nature of political entropy is that the status quo always assimilates or destroys the new, unique and/or nonconformist.

We not only retain our influence but grow it by cultivating our own uniqueness. You can see this in how the parties are trying more and more to identify with the fastest growing voter venue Independents. When I was a Democrat no one ever called me to poll my perspective. Since I quit the Democrats ten years ago that has changed. In the 2004 election I was called at least once a week for political surveys and polls.

Don't ever capitulate to the two party single-minded leadership. The Borg of America's political system.

by aahpat 2005-10-21 02:23PM | 0 recs
Goosesteppers
If the conservative blogs embrace this new attention and become complicit to GOP propaganda whatever integrity, innovation, and independence will dissapear.  

Ditto for liberal blogs. Further, if liberal blogs follow this route when Dems return to power, I would boycott.

I wonder if redstate was there?

by optimusprime 2005-10-21 03:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Goosesteppers
No offense, but "If"?  They've been goose-stepping for the last 5 years.  Only recently have they begun to show any signs of independent thought, and that's only because of the Miers "betrayal".  They'll fall in line.  I sometimes have hope for Redstate --they used to be open to debate with dissenters.  But freeperland and LGF have been begging for the RNC RSS feed for years.
by ThomasAllen 2005-10-22 07:03AM | 0 recs
What's the difference
between how they used Walt Belt and how they use Jeff Gerth or Susan Schmidt?
by Alice Marshall 2005-10-21 03:44PM | 0 recs
Siory of the Day
We are stronger as individual voices in a chorus rather than part of a noise machine.  That given, Dem blogs seem to miss being on the same page, never mind saying the same thing.  Today was the day to hammer the Hammer if ever there was one.  That whole judge thing was outrageous.  And, I think, a dreadful tactical mistake.  You don't win points with the judge by calling him a bought and sold tool.  And, I would think, you don't intimidate someone from halfway across the state with this crap.

I was shocked as hell that this got referred to a non-judge (an administrative law judge is not a real jusge) who is a Republican.  Sequin is not part of the Austin community.  Damn! This sounds like the worst Rove shenanigans,  It's a hell of a lot more important than "news" about Ohio next year.

I was just crowing about what a huge mistake DeLay made by playing pressure politics instead of playing the law when the Hammer seems to win on this garbage.  How???  This is built on lies by the mother and grandmother of lies.  No way it should not have been thrown out WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE.

by David Kowalski 2005-10-21 07:15PM | 0 recs
"This IS the real deal apparently."
I love this Bell quote.

Great study in the old follow-the-adverb trick when looking for lies.

"IS" BIG CAPS.  Damn, son.  I'm sure if he could do better with CSS, he would have rubbed some Drudge on that.

"aparently".

"IS apparently".

Does an adverb every really warrant a GIANT CAPS linking verb before it?

Jeez.

It was funny to read the other GOPers calling bullshit on him, tho.

by jcjcjc 2005-10-21 07:57PM | 0 recs
Well, in Colorado
I get a daily news feed from Progress Now, the liberal Denver based think tank.  They filter all the local Colorado politcal news for me each morning, so it's very easy to find relevant and compeling stories from all over the state.

I would like more informal meetings with the actual party.

by pacified 2005-10-21 11:54PM | 0 recs

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