The Obama MySpace Saga

Joe Anthony moves beyond Tech President to grant only his second interview request, to MTV. I think it answers the question about money. The Obama campaign said something about full-time work in Chicago, Joe balked and asked for volunteer off-site work. Later on, things got busy and Joe asked to be paid. The campaign balked at an on-going position and instead offered a one-time fee in exchange for Anthony handing over the profile:

Talks began to "formalize" Anthony's arrangement and, in the meantime, MySpace launched the "New Friend" campaign on their own, with the Obama camp allowing the traffic to be directed to Anthony's site because there was no other official Obama MySpace presence. Anthony was offered a full-time position with the campaign, according to Rospars, but he preferred to continue as a part-time volunteer with help from the campaign to make sure the site followed official campaigning rules.

According to Rospars, when the number of friends began to skyrocket, Anthony changed his password and did not share it with the campaign, which made Obama's staff "uncomfortable." When asked what was needed to restore access, Rospars said Anthony sent an "itemized financial request."

Though he said he was not comfortable with with the one-time proposal, Anthony said he took a long walk and arrived at what he thought would be a "reasonable" fee, around $39,000 for the time and effort he'd put into the site to date, plus an additional $10,000 for the amount he'd paid to maintain the site since 2004. A meeting to discuss the transfer was postponed several times and then on Monday of this week, Anthony said he was told that there was no money to cut the deal -- even though the Obama campaign has publicly announced that it raised in excess of $25 million in the first quarter of 2007 and has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaign consultants to date.

"Of course it surprises me," Anthony said of the campaign's plea of poverty. "I really thought we were going to work it out ... it's largely symbolic [because] I don't need the money ... They knew that I was working on this profile this whole time ... on a voluntary basis and I was happy to do it. ... They could've stepped in at any time early on [and] started their own profile. They knew about it since 2004 and they never did anything about it, never contacted me until it started getting all of this media coverage and people started talking about Obama reaching out to the netroots community."


When asked to respond to Anthony's account, the Obama campaign deferred to the Rospars posting as its official statement.

There was obviously a decision in the Obama campaign to not go on the record as having brought up the idea of asking for a one-time amount from Joe.

The crazy thing here is I doubt this was ever about the money until the very end. Money has a way of becoming an 'issue' where there's conflict, but it's not really the problem. Joe had the power, he was liking it, and thought he did a great job. He knows MySpace like he lives there (cause he does). The campaign had growth in mind, and fostered it to happen, creating a conflict of philosophy. Then a conflict of control happened, pitting decentralized organizing against the reality of a top-down driven presidential campaign. The conflict became intractable, password access was removed, and finally, money substituted the problem for the final straw. The real conflict seems to revolve around the space and the use of MySpace that reflected different priorities.

The Obama campaign messed up in a lot of ways, but most importantly at the end. These are all staffers looking out for what's best for their candidate, and they failed to look a few steps down the road in their decision-making. I think a lot of the blame has to be placed on MySpace too. They have been through this process before I am sure, and could have easily become a mediator for resolving the conflict. But then again, I've visited MySpace more in the past 40 hours than I ever have before, and 'any publicity is good publicity' is probably their viewpoint.

Other tangents. I don't think the list of 160,000 members, now that I've actually got a experienced-based opinion, is worth $44K, but it's worth $20K. MySpace is a very unique social networking site, and they are highly branded to their space. Of the 20-30 blog posts I read on the topic as culled from technorati, about 70% of them thought Obama wronged Joe, 20% of them thought it was sad for both parties, and only 10% supported Obama's actions. Based on that, I'll be surprised if Obama gets back to his original numbers without a heavy investment (like $25-50K) in outreach across MySpace. I also even wonder if it's worth it. These sites are word-of-mouth water-cooler talking places.

Chris Hughes, who is one of the co-founders of Facebook, probably has a whole other perspective that we'll one day hear. I'm sure he learned that MySpace is very different than Facebook. I'm actually wondering if in fact campaigns have any business at all trying to do official efforts on social networking sites. Why not just pass off a lot of widgets to the volunteers to try and gather the info, and let them do the evangelizing among the community.  It's probably on the unofficial sites that the more effective outreach, to influentials that they know or can tell they know, because they belong to the community.

And finally, I was looking at the list of Joe's recent friends, and noticed that yesterday afternoon, Hillary Clinton 2008 was added to his friends list. But the kicker here is that it's an 'unoffical" Clinton site that has over 43K members, and which Tech President has been culling from as it's 'official' MySpace counter for Clinton. It fooled me too, until I looked at the /hillaryclinton2008 URL. The actual /hillaryclinton URL is the official one, and has over 52K friends, or more than twice as many as Obama.

Tags: Barack Obama (all tags)

Comments

75 Comments

Having Their Cake and Eating It Too

From Hotline Blogometer:

It's hard to feel sorry for Barack Obama's recent netroots trouble following his staff's utilization of MySpace's terms of use agreement to wrest control of a supporter's pro-Obama MySpace page. While all campaigns are struggling to find the right strategies to deal with user generated media, Team Obama has shown that they know when to use what few rules exist to their advantage, and when to not get involved. As the Blogometer reported earlier, YouTube's terms of use policy afforded Obama every right to remove the anti-Hillary Clinton video painting her as 'Big Brother' since Obama's official campaign logo was featured prominently in the ad. At the time Obama chose not to exercise his ability to control a negative user generated media message directed at another candidate. Now that negative user generated messages might be coming his way, Team Obama is suddenly very eager to exercise control.

http://blogometer.nationaljournal.com/

by ChicagoDude 2007-05-03 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Having Their Cake and Eating It Too

This whole thing stinks to high heaven. The supposed controversy reads like a blogosphere version of an cable news expose on the global warming debate.

Frankly, the whole thing is uninteresting. In everything that I've read, I can't see that there was any malice here. Both sides are blowing it out of proportion and neither side has acted well.

But in the end, how on earth does this reflect on Obama's (or any other candidate's) ability to run this country?

by Flernk 2007-05-03 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Obama just started over with a new my space friends list the 160,000 people thought they were Obama's friends so saying Hillary has twice as many friends is disengenious, you don't like Obama that's fine but many people that visit these sites do and would appreciate a little more of a fair shake.

by nevadadem 2007-05-03 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga
...saying Hillary has twice as many friends is disengenious....
Agreed.
by horizonr 2007-05-03 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

What's more disingenuous - a candidate that touts his online support and undermines those supporters when convenient, or a blog posting the straight up fact that Hillary's official MySpace page has 50,000 meaningless friends?  And how is that disingenuous anyways?  At least Hillary's page is official - this episode has revealed that Obama alone did not influence most of his MySpace support anyways.

by Conquest 2007-05-03 01:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

this episode has revealed that Obama alone did not influence most of his MySpace support anyways.

On the contrary.  Joe Anthony did not get 160,000 friends to the myspace.com/barackobama page because people like Joe Anthony, or because he is particularly skilled at inviting people to be his friend.  Those 160,000 people joined the page because of Barack Obama.

by Fran for Dean 2007-05-03 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

From here on out we should no longer act surprised.  We should expect criticism. We should come to mydd to check out the daily rant against barack.  In fact it will be good way to chart his online negatives--and see how strong the anti-obama winds blow.  

by aiko 2007-05-03 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Unfortunately you keep refering to it as Joes site. It was/is Barack Obama's site and Anthony had the "power" to change the password, but he had no right to do so.

It was/is Barack Obama's site because it is his name and was clearly represented to be the MySpace page of Senator Barack Obama.

Many of Anthony's statements are bizarre. He says it wasn't about the money? Then why did he hijack the password and try to sell it for 40 grand? Why does he think he has the right to sell Barack Obama's own friends list to him for 40 or 20 grand or even for $1.00? Is he really under the impression that HE generated those names?

This guy obviously knows how to manipulate the Netroots, and is sucessfully doing that.

And I'm done for the day.

by Mystylplx 2007-05-03 12:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Who created the page and maintained it for the first 2 years?

by Rooktoven 2007-05-03 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

It was/is Barack Obama's site because it is his name and was clearly represented to be the MySpace page of Senator Barack Obama.

nice try....but Anthony's page had a clear disclaimer that it was not an official page.

The bottom line here is that Obama KNEW since 2004 about Anthony's fan page, and did not object to it.  They were perfectly happy when Anthony was directing people to Obama's official site during his Senate campaign.  

What this looks like is another "Zephyr Teachout" episode.  Rospars wanted to pretend to be this internet genius, and thought he could piggy-back on (and take credit for) Anthony's work.  My guess is that he was afraid to go to the campaign and say "you know those 160,000 people that I have signed up for Obama on the internet?  Well, it was really somebody else who had done (and was doing) all the work, and now he wants some money....." (If he'd told the campaign, they would have doubtless authorized negotiations on the amount). So Rospars stole Anthony's site without compensation, and created a much bigger problem for himself.

by plukasiak 2007-05-03 03:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Right and when the page started to become important Anthony stopped cooperating with the campaign and changed the password so that the campaign could not update things on the page.

Honestly I get the impression that both sides were playing a little too much hardball in these negotiations.

by Luam 2007-05-03 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

I just think they both were under the idea that they were the rightful owner and the other was just jerking them around, rather then bad will on their own part.

by Ernst 2007-05-04 12:40AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Actually your version isn't completely accurate.

Myspace reserves the right to revert ownership of the URL to it's name sake if asked to do so.

Joe Anthony registered the URL and created the content. He clearly indicated that it was an unofficial fan site. And like all communities the people came because of the subject of the fan site. but Joe Anthony did maintain the community.

The campaign thought he was doing a good job and started collaborating with him and his site instead of asking Myspace to revert the URL to their ownership and starting up their own site.

Later problems over editorial control arose as both parties had different outlook. The campaign viewing it as part of their campaign where the let the creator maintain it voluntarily, Joe Anthony viewed as his fan site where he allowed the campaign to cooperate with him. As the relationship between Joe Anthony and the campaign never became formalised both parties laboured under different perceptions.

When Joe Anthony shut out the campaign, He was at that time complete owner of the unofficial fan site containing the URL, content and community where all still his. It was not proclaiming to be the MySpace page of Senator Barack Obama. It was proclaiming to be the MySpace page of a fan site dedicated to the Senator Barack Obama, placed in the BarackObama URL that Joe Anthony had a right to as long as Barack Obama didn't claim that URL for himself.

When negotiations about buying the site with initiated by the campaign floundered on the asking prize of Joe Anthony the campaign started a new site and asked Myspace to give them the BarrackObama URL. as the TOS allows them to do.

Until that happened the URL was Joe Anthony's morally and rightfully as creator and maintainer of the community of a fan site after that the URL morally and rightfully of Barack Obama to be used for a campaign website.

Although the names certainly weren't there for Joe Anthony, they were there because of Joe Anthony. They were there because he created the content and maintained the community. And the campaign was interested in those names and content as well as the URL, A compensation for that was not out of order as Joe Anthony worked independently from the campaign and no formalised relation between the two was ever established.

He asked a price that was too steep so they declined to buy. Now if Joe Anthony was really as inconsequential as people claim the new site will easily equal the old numbers at lower costs.

All this is a tempest in a teapot, that has it's roots in a breakdown of communication caused by misunderstanding of the role and status of the site. This could have been prevented by creating a formalised relationship right from the start from the beginning of the campaign so that everybody's status was known. Now it created a situation where there were two captains on one ship.

There hasn't been foul play by any side just regrettable miscommunication upon miscommunication.

by Ernst 2007-05-04 12:29AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Well-written summary, Ernst.  

by vbdietz 2007-05-04 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Thanks!

by Ernst 2007-05-04 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

I dunno man.  I would say that the expert at working in MySpace from a political organizing perspective is Scott Goodstein, who only started with Obama a few weeks ago.  Chris certainly knows Facebook the best.  They are two different animals for sure.

I think there is value for a centralized hub of activity officially run by the campaign headquarters on these sites.  The ability to push information out to the friends on bulletins means they need to be accurate.  Also, those questions people were contacting the campaign with should be answered. Sub groups on the other hand make sense to be independent.  At this point, all of the other campaigns control their myspace account.  This joint sharing was an aberration.

I think there is a difference between the value of this guys' time and the value of those friends.  Additionally, given the amount of bad publicity generated, it appears that price was well worth it.

by juls 2007-05-03 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Honestly, what does this have to do with the Presidential race? Articles like this really demean the so-called netroots movement, and exposes this blogsites for what it is: a manifestation of "gotcha" politics which has more to do with personal ego than political mobilization.  Thank God for MoveOn.

by dougdilg 2007-05-03 12:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

well Obama's staff did screw up they should have just paid the guy off as he was not a squatter but in the end it turned into a simple dispute about money, not control as he'd already given that up, I think anyone would agree that Obama has a right to his name just as anyone else would but they tried to work with the guy who took Obama's name to start the support site, if a rightwinger had Barack's name no one would here would say he was entitled to it, thus all thaty happened was Obama's staff mishandled a pr problem, hardly a to support a presidential candidate over.

by nevadadem 2007-05-03 12:47PM | 0 recs
you write

they failed to look a few steps down the road in their decision-making

Just like bloggers failed to do due diligence and get both sides of the story before uncritically backing Joe Anthony and attacking Obama with lines like:

"Obama blows into MySpace"

and "Obama's MySpace f'up"

Looking down the road isn't a one way street.

The initial reporting on this story was sorely lacking.

by kid oakland 2007-05-03 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: you write

What did the bloggers get wrong that completely altered the way we should look at the story?

by clarkent 2007-05-03 12:56PM | 0 recs
The problem to some was that

bloggers talked about it.

Some people see the word as helping or hurting their candidate, but there is a bigger issue here.  Jerome identifed it, but it is missed by the Obama apologists.  Top/down v. decentralized.
Netroots v. consultants.  People powered politics v. the illusion of people powered politics.

by littafi 2007-05-03 01:32PM | 0 recs
are you referring to my comment?

Your criticism is a total straw man if you are.

by kid oakland 2007-05-03 02:18PM | 0 recs
I know you may have a

"big name" but you need to learn how to argue.

Calling something a strawman, without more, is not an argument.

Learn to debate.

My point is real.  You had no response.

by littafi 2007-05-03 08:43PM | 0 recs
add some ad hominem

while you are at it.

Your points weren't directed to anything that I said.  

I am not going to respond to arguments that you are putting into my mouth. That's straw man.

by kid oakland 2007-05-06 09:29AM | 0 recs
for one

it would be great to actually, you know, call the Obama campaign and ask them for their side before defining the frame for the story.

For two, the phrase, "shit on your supporters" was a pretty low moment.

This is basic stuff. We've been through it over and over again on the FPs of the blogs.

It's, quite frankly, my least favorite aspect of blogging.  The half-baked attack piece.

If you've ever worked on a campaign you know that this kind of situation with a volunteer is extremely common. It is par for the course. Imo, it only merits a story if the facts and the culpability are cut and dry. This one wasn't that.

Supporters of every other campaign will have every ulterior motive in the world to hype a story like this.  That's why we should maintain a bit of journalistic distance...even though we are bloggers.

This one wasn't cut and dry. I've read ten pieces on the thing and I don't think I can come to some overarching judgment. It's gray. I see reasons to doubt Anthony and reasons to see his point of view.

When someone like Jerome, who is a leading blogger, or Atrios, or Markos, tees off on the Obama campaign before the facts are in...I think it makes all of us look bad.

I'm not saying that folks with editors don't write irresponsibly at times, but, as someone who's been FP and takes what I write online seriously, I think that this whole thing could have been reported in a much more balanced manner.

As it stands, one campaign has had a tsunami of bad press and ill will...and for what?

For a situation, in my view, that ANY campaign could have found itself in.

The number of possible ulterior agendas here is huge...some of them are legit, some are less so. All the more reason to have proceded with bit more scepticism and balance.

Report the story, yes.  But like Jerome said, think about the consequences. Every single journalist does.  Bloggers should too.

by kid oakland 2007-05-03 02:12PM | 0 recs
Re: for one

i know you get lots of respect in these parts, but i have to say, i don't think you're getting the facts right.  i've read most of the coverage of this and i don't think that any of the facts are really in dispute and that includes joe rospar's response message.  both of the joes are silent on certain (different) issues that seem to be key but they don't deny what the other has said either.  (i havent' yet read the MTV article interviewing anthony yet, so maybe that sheds new light.)

maybe you disagree with how the blogging community reacted and that's fair, but i don't think that anyone got anything wrong.

the techpresident blog has seemed to have the most comprehensive coverage of the incident including interviews with the obama campaign.  their follow up coverage also reiterates that the situation is pretty much what has been said already with the exception that joe rospar's statement did contradict what others in teh campaign said on background.

by corn dog 2007-05-03 02:30PM | 0 recs
facts?

The more I read, the more Joe Anthony seems like a volunteer who took some one-sided charges about his financial dealings with the Obama campaign public...and was taken at face value and amplified by those covering the story without asking a pretty basic question:

Should we give unquestioned trust to a volunteer or employee who is giving us information that is hurtful to the campaign they just worked on, espcially when it is about money?  

As a pragmatic matter, no. It's too loaded a situation. You have to get both sides out. And even then it is likely to be a very gray affair.

The blogs did not do that.  We jumped rhetorically...and we made it a "people powered" politics issue...without perhaps understanding the nitty gritty of MySpace itself.

Reading the piece above, Jerome pretty much admits he was wrong about MySpace, wrong about the valuation, wrong about having the full story when he intially reported only Joe Anthony's side of things.

That's my problem with this. It seems to me, people put this into their own pre-existing narrative. Yes, a campaign should be "big enough" and have the foresight to anticipate controversies like this and head them off. In that narrow sense, Barack Obama's campaign should have anticipated that kos would write a line like: "shit on your supporters" and took care of this quietly.

But I think that lets Markos off the hook way too easily. Let me get real, I see all the "people powered" talk as a lot of happy talk in light of someone smearing the hard work and collective effort of all the very real people behind Barack Obama and involved in his campaign.

Hold Obama accountable, yes. But get your facts straight. And don't pretend you are ripping someone in the name of "people powere politics" when the reverse consequence may just as likely be true. ie. 160,000 folks...ie. PEOPLE...who signed up to be Obama's friend got sold a very one-sided view of Barack Obama and done a disservice by the blogs.  They may never come back to supporting him BECAUSE of how Joe Anthony was given such an uncritical platform to smear the Senator.

Do I think that Obama or Clinton or Edwards are perfect? No. Do I think any one of them would have been vulnerable to this kind of situation? Yes. Do I think that the lesson campaigns will take from this is to distance themselves from the very "people powered" stuff we've sunk so much of our effort and time into here online?

Sadly, yes.

When someone can write that you are "shitting on your" supporters with no accountability, there's no reason to deal with us.  

In fact, it would be unwise to do so. That's what consultants will take away from this.

I've done a lot of volunteering on campaigns and I can tell you that the vast majority of people powered politics is NOT online on the blogs; it's grassroots, not netroots. We owe those people, including those who are working for Senator Obama, something better than what we've given them here.

by kid oakland 2007-05-03 03:13PM | 0 recs
Re: facts?

Actually you missed a few facts.

As far as I know Joe Anthony was neither volunteer nor employee and had no official standing with the campaign. He worked on that site long before Obama stated up his campaign for president.
He also stayed very respectful to the senator and only said some bad things about the communication between him and certain people of the staff. And as both Joes stories were factual very close It's hard to see that as a smear. Personal opinion perhaps. But not a full frontal attack.

The blogger response was with hyperbole, but that is standard with bloggers. It's part of why they are successful. The campaign also learned that engaging the blogs works best to do damage control. See the response post by the New Media Director made here and at Daily Kos. It worked well, and showed the actual reverse of what you are saying.

The campaign communicated a lot better to both Joe Anthony and the Blogs after they were accused then before.

by Ernst 2007-05-04 12:59AM | 0 recs
your take

on the value of Rospars engagement is well taken.

You write above:

There hasn't been foul play by any side just regrettable miscommunication upon miscommunication.

The initial coverage of this on the blogs WAS foul.

I am much less inclined than you to give Mr. Anthony the benefit of the doubt. I think one major "miscommunication" was that no one on the blogs conveyed the possibility of his lack of judgment.

He may not have intended to smear the campaign, but the effect of taking up a megaphone and going public about his failed negotiations, and  then having it amplified on the blogs, did exactly that.

I am much less inclinded to give Jerome, kos and Atrios...in 2007...the benefit of the doubt.

You write as if there's a "no harm, no foul" aspect to all this and the campaigns just have to suck it up and come onto the blogs and make things right after one-sided misreporting here or being lambasted with a line like:

"shitting on our supporters"

I disagree.  The idea that bloggers work in a no accoutability zone and campaigns have to come to us and "make it right" no matter how badly we bungle things, or worse, is a honeymoon that will not attain forever.

by kid oakland 2007-05-04 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: your take

Well more like: a bit of harm, but no foul...

Besides how much benefit of the doubt we give Mr. Anthony, we also seem to differ on how much damage was done to the campaign.

I do see that this has given the campaign a slight bump in the road. But I think that given the nature of the people involved it's hardly anything permanent or even al that serious. But perhaps that's just because I'm desensitized as a Clinton supporter.

by Ernst 2007-05-04 12:02PM | 0 recs
facts?

The more I read, the more Joe Anthony seems like a volunteer who took some one-sided charges about his financial dealings with the Obama campaign public...and was taken at face value and amplified by those covering the story without asking a pretty basic question:

Should we give unquestioned trust to a volunteer or employee who is giving us information that is hurtful to the campaign they just worked on, espcially when it is about money?  

As a pragmatic matter, no. It's too loaded a situation. You have to get both sides out. And even then it is likely to be a very gray affair.

The blogs did not do that.  We jumped rhetorically...and we made it a "people powered" politics issue...without perhaps understanding the nitty gritty of MySpace itself.

Reading the piece above, Jerome pretty much admits he was wrong about MySpace, wrong about the valuation, wrong about having the full story when he intially reported only Joe Anthony's side of things.

That's my problem with this. It seems to me, people put this into their own pre-existing narrative. Yes, a campaign should be "big enough" and have the foresight to anticipate controversies like this and head them off. In that narrow sense, Barack Obama's campaign should have anticipated that kos would write a line like: "shit on your supporters" and took care of this quietly.

But I think that lets Markos off the hook way too easily. Let me get real, I see all the "people powered" talk as a lot of happy talk in light of someone smearing the hard work and collective effort of all the very real people behind Barack Obama and involved in his campaign.

Hold Obama accountable, yes. But get your facts straight. And don't pretend you are ripping someone in the name of "people powere politics" when the reverse consequence may just as likely be true. ie. 160,000 folks...ie. PEOPLE...who signed up to be Obama's friend got sold a very one-sided view of Barack Obama and done a disservice by the blogs.  They may never come back to supporting him BECAUSE of how Joe Anthony was given such an uncritical platform to smear the Senator.

Do I think that Obama or Clinton or Edwards are perfect? No. Do I think any one of them would have been vulnerable to this kind of situation? Yes. Do I think that the lesson campaigns will take from this is to distance themselves from the very "people powered" stuff we've sunk so much of our effort and time into here online?

Sadly, yes.

When someone can write that you are "shitting on your" supporters with no accountability, there's no reason to deal with us.  

In fact, it would be unwise to do so. That's what consultants will take away from this.

I've done a lot of volunteering on campaigns and I can tell you that the vast majority of people powered politics is NOT online on the blogs; it's grassroots, not netroots. We owe those people, including those who are working for Senator Obama, something better than what we've given them here.

by kid oakland 2007-05-03 03:13PM | 0 recs
Re: for one

But ko, starting with Obama's concilliatory statement that a war funding bill would eventually pass, a few select liberal polical blogs have been conducting a subtle war with the Obama campaign.  There is a lot of unhappiness with the fact that he chose not to use Actblue and his web-based activities like my.barack.obama are a closed community rather than open (and now the myspace mess).   As a result, there is an inordinate amount of time spent tearing him and his campaign down.  He is being held to an impossibly high netroots standard/progressive bar.  Each blogger has his own personal ax to grind. It is like that arcade game where in order to score you have to hit the frog as it pops its head up over and over again.

by aiko 2007-05-03 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: for one

he's not being held to an impossibly high standard.  Obama screwed up in his statement about Iraq, and got called on it.  (Every other significant candidate would have been criticized for doing so as well.)

And now Obama has this Rospar guy screwing around with net-roots advocacy, and hasn't resolved the problem.  Its a stupid, stupid, mistake on Obama's part, and its better that Obama's problem running a national campaign be exposed now, rather than later.

by plukasiak 2007-05-03 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: for one

I honestly believe that at mydd the bar is set impossibly high.

by aiko 2007-05-03 05:23PM | 0 recs
Re: for one

I don't.

He's relatively centrist, and he made some rookie mistakes in his campaign.

His voting record his simular to HRC as are most of his policy statements.

I don't mind that as I'm a HRC supporter, but it shows to me that the bar is rather consistant.

Console yourself that he still isn't getting the same amount of bad press as Clinton does.

by Ernst 2007-05-04 01:05AM | 0 recs
Re: for one

you didn't answer my question. I agree that Kos' description was harsh.

by clarkent 2007-05-03 03:29PM | 0 recs
list

list of unclear aspects of story

* the nature and value of the MySpace friends list (see Jerome's post above)

  • the assumption that Joe Anthony was solely responsible for gathering all 160,000 names
  • the matter of whether or not Mr. Anthony changed the password, and, if he did, why that was not part of Sifry's story
  • the role of MySpace policy and administrators in the matter.
  • who has the right to a MySpace profile using their proper name and whether Mr. Anthony had ever been ceded that right by the Obama campaign
  • whether Mr. Anthony was making a "good faith" representation of the facts (post-MTV I would say we still don't know)
  • the value to Mr. Anthony of the link from the Barack Obama website

There have also been some notable canards here:

* how much money Obama has in the bank is irrelevant

  • Mr. Anthony himself talks explicity about being a volunteer. That word has a dictionary definition that is pretty clear.
  • there's a logical inconsistency in focusing on the Obama campaign walking away from Mr. Anthony's offer. First, because that is the right of everyone in any negotiation. Second, it begs the  question of what the Obama campaign should have done if it did want to negotiate further. (ie. if your answer is "pay him the money" then you didn't read Jerome's post above where he devalues the value of the list by 50%) What if the Obama campaign received some indication from Mr. Anthony that if they did not pay him he was going to the press?  Sound plausible to you?  Does to me.
  • finally, it seems to me pretty damning that the significance of the fact that Mr. Anthony was offered a job by the Obama campaign in Chicago and turned it down is glossed by Mr. Anthony's defenders. Seems pretty people powered to me.

Basically, the netroots message to Obama is to pay Mr. Anthony what he asked, period.

Interesting. But simplistic.

I've yet to read a compelling argument that explains how this would not set a hugely dangerous precedent vis a vis social networking sites.

What about next time? What's to stop someone from posting a "false flag" myspace page to do exactly this same maneuver to another candidate?

Basic questions. I've not read good answers to them.

Finally, there's a circular logic here, as well.

We're raising hell about how Obama treats the "people" hence Obama should have treated the "people" better because we are the "people" and we are raising hell.

Right.

by kid oakland 2007-05-03 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: list

"What about next time? What's to stop someone from posting a "false flag" myspace page to do exactly this same maneuver to another candidate?"

oh, you mean get tens of thousands of people who support you on one social network page that you've known about for well over four years?

Obama decided it was okay for Anthony to have his "barackobama" myspace page....until Obama decided it wasn't okay.  It is that inconsistency that is the problem.  

by plukasiak 2007-05-03 06:06PM | 0 recs
no, you don't know that

you don't know what Senator Obama decided or not.  No one does as far as I know.

All these folks drawing firm moral and ethical conclusions from a failed negotations between a campaign and a former volunteer which we don't have privy to outside of he said/she said hearsay have a clairvoyance that I don't have.

And given my life experience I would not presume to have.  Things are not that black and white when it comes to this kind of thing.

Hell, I don't think we even know what Mr. Anthony is really like.

Are you so confident of him that you are willing to take down one of the most promising presidential candidates in decades based on his testimony?

I'm not. Not even close.

re: false flag.

I may have overstated the danger but your response is hyperbole.  People deceiving other Myspace users about their real motives and identity...I'm shocked! shocked! I've never heard of such a thing. It couldn't be.

by kid oakland 2007-05-03 07:54PM | 0 recs
Hey, kid oakland.
I accidently put you in hidden comments with a comment.  I don't know how to uprate you back.
Sorry.  I was not troll rating you.  
by littafi 2007-05-03 08:50PM | 0 recs
lol, that's fine

I think you should be able to go to hidden comments and uprate back if you want your comment to be visible.

Either way, I'm cool.  cheers.

by kid oakland 2007-05-03 09:14PM | 0 recs
Re: list

I agree with a lot of the points that you are making. However, the myspace page was done with good intentions. It accomplished good things. I don't see how anyone could discredit this guy because he was not doing anything wrong. He was doing everything right, until something, who-knows-what, happened.

When it comes to politics, most people are not privy to what is really going on, so it doesn't make sense to blame either party, or the critics. It's part and parcel of the game.

by misscee 2007-05-04 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Bwaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaa....

The Audacious and Hopefull Obama cain't seem to live with anything other than top down control.

You know....

Fuck that.

As for Myspace, facebook, zandby and da tribe. I'm trying to use all of 'em to spread a progressive word or two and....

It's a lot, a whole lot, of work. So far to not much effect. But I'm just a beginner and unlike the corporate loving clown show that Obama and Da Hill are putting on.....

I'm willing and able to learn.

by Pericles 2007-05-03 12:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

You understood that comment?

by clarkent 2007-05-03 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

The timeline here is still rather unclear, and I think the devil lurks in the details of who did what when.

Answers I don't think we have yet:

1) did Obama's campaign contact MySpace about taking over the site after Anthony changed the password, or before?

2) what, if any, grievance preceded Anthony's changing the password?  He seems to refer to Obama's campaign adding the contested page to a "Cool New Person" MySpace feature, but the MTV article is a little ambiguous.

3) who contacted whom about changing the existing financial status quo?  Did Anthony ask for the paid position he had rejected earlier, or did he ask for a lumpsum buyout, or did the campaign orginially suggest either option?  Was this before the password was changed or after?

4) is there any question that the campaign was technically within its rights to claim the site name?  Obviously as a matter of PR and ethics, it was not, but Anthony seems to think his consent was required.

5) what was the nature of Anthony's "itemized financial request"?  The campaign seems to want it to sound like a one-time-payment request, but based on Anthony's comments, it seems to have been a request for a salaried job offer, or some kind of ongoing financial relationship at least, perhaps involving a share of ad expenditures.

If we're trying to judge who screwed over whom and who behaved inappropriately, the answers to these questions matter.  Do we have enough information to answer any of these with certainty?

by texas dem 2007-05-03 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

If $10K of the amount represents reimbursement of actual expenses, as opposed to straight compensation, that has an impact on the fair price tag.

That said, I am so done with this issue.

by Steve M 2007-05-03 01:16PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

That is really incredible for the Obama campaign to say they had no money to pay him.

The bottom line is Obama turned $39,000.00 into about $3.9 million (or more) in very negative publicity at a time he is declining in a number of polls and needs to gain traction the most. A very bad move.

by robliberal 2007-05-03 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Actually I find it very credible. Any well run campaign works with budgets. And seeing the time till the elections and the amount of money needed for media buys, I doubt that the new media part of the campaign is well funded enough to handover $49.000 without it seriously compromising other endevours.

Seeing as the main problem seems to be the way the communicated with Joe Anthony they could have solved it for little or no money at all. That what is incredible and the bad move.

by Ernst 2007-05-04 01:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

here comes the Rob spin declining in polls falling apart ect....3.9 million is a little much Rob do you think 5 people will not vote for Obama over this, all this incident did was provide the very few Hillary supporters in the netroots and the much larger Edwards majority a chance to bash a candidate they don't support over nothing. Obama's Oprah endorsement is 100* more important that this garbadge.

by nevadadem 2007-05-03 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

I have not bashed Obama. Can you say you have never bashed Clinton?

Obama is declining in the polls not because of MySpace though. Just like the blogger story with Edwards negative stories can create millions of dollars in negative publicity.
The real story is how poorly this was handled. A deal should have been struck before any blogs or media ever heard of it.

by robliberal 2007-05-03 01:59PM | 0 recs
by aiko 2007-05-03 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Obama has declined in IA, NH, and SC in recent polls.

by robliberal 2007-05-03 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

In one ARG poll and a SC poll taken way before the debates... Hardly a trend does that make.  

by yitbos96bb 2007-05-03 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

The internals of some of the recent polls do show red flags that you will see in future polling as well. For example the figure that voters see Clinton as a leader by a 4 to 1 margin over Obama gives some indication of the weakness that Obama has.

by robliberal 2007-05-03 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

i don't think it has to do with whether or not Obama Supporter X will now vote for someone else.  right now we're in the period of defining who the hell these people are and a lot of that is subconscious.  like al gore is a liar.  i doubt many people actually think he's a liar or could point to actual lies that couldn't be easily refuted (like the internet thing).  but if they had a queasy feeling about him due to the repeated al-gore-lies stories any refutation of an individual story won't really change that.  they'd still be queasy.

and since there are a bunch of options i imagine it wouldn't take much subconscious queasyness to sour people that aren't yet decided.

also, i don't konw if this is the kind of thing that even can be quantified.  how do you put a $$ figure on negative publicity?  can you even do that?  typically a value would be what it would cost to do something or buy something, but with negative publicity...i dont' konw.

i think this story is important for two reasons, a) obama gets a lot of support from his squeaky clean image, and b) obama gets a lot of press for his grassroots driven campaign.  for the squeaky clean thing, think of how worried his campaign was when the issue of his smoking came out. and here he is "stealing."  as to the second, whether true or not, this incident gives the impression that it's not a grassroots driven campaign and what's more, obama sh!ts on those people.

by corn dog 2007-05-03 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

this incident has affected my opinion of Obama, in a way that could impact his candidacy....

I live in Pennsylvania, and our primary is relatively late in the game.  If the outcome was still undecided but it looked like Edwards had no chance and the contest was between Hillary and Obama, I probably would have voted for Obama.

But this incident reinforces my fear that Obama isn't ready for a national campaign -- and that Democrats would be far better off with a known quantity like Hillary than a potential timebomb like Obama.

by plukasiak 2007-05-03 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

If the Obama campaign does this poor a job handling what should have been a minor issue, I have no confidence Obama will able to handle the inevitable Republican smears if he's the nominee.   Right now, it looks his campaign team can't even tie their shoes.  

by Monkey In Chief 2007-05-03 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

well ok both Hillary and Edwards didn't get the Iraq war vote right which is more important?

by nevadadem 2007-05-03 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

You're taking this personally. A statement that Obama's team has handled this badly doesn't equate to a unceasing hatred for Obama which burns like the flames of hell itself.

Honestly, I don't see how you can say Obama's team have handled this well. They've alienated a strong supporter, and even if that was impossible they've done nothing to damp the story down. That's got to be an error.

Realistically, it's unlikely to prove to be a particularly serious error. Edwards recovered from the furore about his Iran comments and this hasn't reached the same level of critical mass amongst the netroots.

Nor does this necessarily mean Obama won't be able to fight back against Republican attacks. It's easier to deal with an enemy than a former friend and the candidate will be making many of the rebuttals himself (whereas he doesn't appear to have got involved here yet).

But stop claiming that no errors whatsoever were made here or that people who claim otherwise hate Obama. A sense of perspective will do wonders for your credibility.

by Englishlefty 2007-05-03 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

More important to the faith in a candidates policy judgement, or in their campaign teams electoral competency?

Obama's good stance on the issues in the run-up to the war isn't a silver bullet. In the end enough of these little things will sink him if his team doesn't learn from this. He still isn't as fixed in the people's mind as other candidates are so his is more vulnerable then most for these sort of small mishandled pseudo scandals.

That is a problem that needs to be addressed by him (within his campaign) head-on, not shoved under the carpet if he wants to win.

A good stance on the issues in the past might make you a good official once you get elected, but unfortunately it doesn't help you get elected.

by Ernst 2007-05-04 01:35AM | 0 recs
still waiting

for the first mention outside of comments of the following facet of the story:

Barack called Joe.

His staff is one story. But Obama himself, and Joe himself, is another.

by demondeac 2007-05-03 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga
Update 1: "Obama MySpace Discrepancy - Joe Rospars and TechPresident" http://hammer2006.blogspot.com/2007/05/o bama-myspace-discrepancy-joe-rospars.htm l
Update 2: "TechPresident: How to Value a MySpace Mega-Group" http://hammer2006.blogspot.com/2007/05/t echpresident-how-to-value-myspace-mega.h tml
Update 3: "Joe Anthony on his current MySpace page: "Perhaps it should just be deleted."" http://hammer2006.blogspot.com/2007/05/j oe-anthony-on-his-current-myspace-page.h tml
Original: Obama, MySpace, Joe Anthony, Day 2 - Latest Coverage By Leading Media (New York Times, TechPresident, Washington Post, Huffington Post)
http://hammer2006.blogspot.com/2007/05/o bama-myspace-joe-anthony-day-2-latest.ht ml
by PoliticsTwoPointZero 2007-05-03 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Blog Pimping... gotta love it.

by yitbos96bb 2007-05-03 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

What I'm sure of is that both parties are losers in this conflict whereas both could have been winners and remained in a close working relationship.

Obama got a tainted URL with less than 20,000 friends stained by his campaign staff's ill-advised seizure of the site.

Anthony ends up with the option of creating a second-class URL and cast-off site with 160,000 up-ended friends who had gathered around the nucleus of the community that he had been painstakingly building by himself on his own initiative for two and a half years.

The numbers of friends swelled during the period of time that Anthony was collaborating with the Obama campaign staff, which shows the potential of a working relationship between net-savvy grassroots activists and campaign staffers who are just learning the ropes of social networking.

It could have been a win-win for both sides had Obama made sure that his campaign staff knew what he says he knows about finding common ground among people who disagree and bringing people together to conjointly solve their problems and create partnerships and relationships that were not there before.

Basically, I blame Obama for running a campaign operation staffed by people who do not know how to build relationships and solve conflicts in a way that honors all participants.

I also blame him for not anticipating the difficulties of working with the netroots and for failing to hire people who know how to build relationships with dedicated web activists like Anthony. If you read Joe Trippi's book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (and I advise Obama to read it immediately, assuming he has not already read it), what the Dean campaign figured out early on was to let the campaign be built by its most enthusiastic frequently tech-savvy supporters. That Obama has not learned the lessons offered by the last election does not bode well either for the future of his campaign or an Obama presidency.

What I would like to see is for Obama to step in RIGHT NOW and show us how he would apply his reconciliation philosophy to back-tracking this mess into an agreement that honors the work and potential of Anthony and Obama's staff to work together to leverage the collaborative energies they initially brought to the table.

Maybe he could invent a new template for integrating netrooters like Anthony into hard-core campaign operations.

Obama's failures created the conflict but quite possibly the peace-making capabilities he says he has or is striving to develop could be put to good use to patch things up.

Is this too much to ask, that a presidential contender apply his governing philosophies to his own campaign?

by Nancy Bordier 2007-05-03 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

i'm too lazy to look up the url right now, but zephyr teachout - who led the internet operations for dean - wrote up something on how the dean campaign did it vs. this incident.  it's over at the techpresident site which has had the most comprehensive coverage of this thing so far.  go read it because she basically talks about the success they had with the stuff you quote trippi about.

by corn dog 2007-05-03 02:21PM | 0 recs
Are we still on this MySpace Obama Bullshit??

Geez, get over it.

It is over.

Dude was offered a job from the get-go, he turned it down.  This was all about power that then turned into asking for monies.

Obama camp said "NO".  Obama has every right to take his name back, because it is HIS.  Get mad at MySpace for the "famous/celebrity rule".  He took advantage of it.  He did not take dude's work or his 160K of people that came to this page.  He just took his name back.

Joe Anthony was dumb as a door nob.  "Time is money, and money is time", if he was not smart enough to negotiate from the onset, then too bad so sad.  Dude, VOLUNTEERED his time!!!  Geez, do these campaigns start paying everyone who volunteers?

This is OVER, let talk about Obama's upcoming debates.  Starting in New Hampshire on June 3rd, CNN:

Psaki wouldn't say if Obama would skip future DNC debates if his video distribution idea is not adopted. He's scheduled to attend a debate hosted by PBS host Tavis Smiley in late June at Howard University, an early June debate in New Hampshire co-sponsored by CNN and WMUR-TV, and six DNC sanctioned debates set to begin in July.

http://www.barackobama.com/2007/05/03/ob ama_asks_dean_to_drop_restri.php

And the upcoming debate on PBS for Democrats, June 28th hosted by Tavis Smiley at Howard University in D.C.  Enough already with this myspace b.s....

by icebergslim 2007-05-03 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Are we still on this MySpace Obama Bullshit??

Maybe it is just me but calling a supporter who signed up 160,000 people "dumb as a door nob" would not be the way I would try to make the situation better.

by robliberal 2007-05-03 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Are we still on this MySpace Obama Bullshit??

Rob I think they should have handled it better but have you been to myspace? people thought Barack Obama's name and site was about supporting Obama not Joe Anthony, he didn't sign up 160,000 supporters, they find him by searching Obama's name. The guy seemed like a real supporter not a squatter but it didn't work out when they tried to make himpart of the campaign then it became a monetary dispute, even most people critical of the campaign don't think he has a right to "use" Obama's name unless Obama wants him too for the same reasons why it wouldn't be acceptable for a liberal to take Fred Thompson's name to do an anti-Fred site,and the Jerome who obviously can't stand Obama by the tenor of his posts comes up with the snippy Hillary has 50,000 double the amount of myspace friends now, yeah OK Jerome. Some of this stuff in the end seams to be about who's greasing who's palms in netroots land.

by nevadadem 2007-05-03 03:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Are we still on this MySpace Obama Bullshit??

As I understand it the page had a disclaimed that it was not an official site and the Obama campaign actually linked to it from the Obama official site.

by robliberal 2007-05-03 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Are we still on this MySpace Obama Bullshit??

MYDD page views doubled --doubled--in the past 2 days.  

by aiko 2007-05-03 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

And this is what we get when Newscorp purchases something...

by yitbos96bb 2007-05-03 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

I'm still laughing at the ridiculous notion of updating a MySpace page being hard, serious work deserving of such compensation.

8 hours a day on MySpace? Right! Pasting those URL's and accepting friends is so difficult.

by OfficeOfLife 2007-05-03 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga

Where's your page. Can I be your friend?

by misscee 2007-05-04 08:19AM | 0 recs
Problem was the lack of negotiation skills

If this fellow had a lawyer, that lawyer would have a) read the TOS and told the guy he had a very thin foundation for leverage and b) would have spoken to a lawyer on the camp's side.   I bet both sides would have gotten to happy and kept quiet.  I don't get why the online outreach guys would be negotiating anything.  

To the camp, you pay for the NDA, not the names.

To the guy, how do you go OOP to spend 10K on an MySpace page?

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, etc...

by drowsy 2007-05-04 05:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama MySpace Saga - NEW
NEW:
Exclusive: TechPresident Traffic Rockets with Obama MySpace Story
http://hammer2006.blogspot.com/2007/05/e xclusive-techpresident-traffic-rockets.h tml
Anthony Speaks On Obama MySpace Takeover: 'They Took This Profile Without My Consent'
http://hammer2006.blogspot.com/2007/05/a nthony-speaks-on-obama-myspace.html
How Joe Anthony Schooled the Barack Obama Campaign, and What We Still Don't Know
http://hammer2006.blogspot.com/2007/05/h ow-joe-anthony-schooled-barack-obama.htm l
How did Obama get protection? - Chicago Sun-Times
http://hammer2006.blogspot.com/2007/05/h ow-did-obama-get-protection-secret.html
by PoliticsTwoPointZero 2007-05-04 06:44AM | 0 recs

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