Typing Politics: The Role of Blogs in American Politics

By Richard Davis | Go to book overview

1
Agenda Setting

On September 26, 2006, President George W. Bush signed a bill that created a searchable database of federal grants and contracts designed for citizens, groups, and the press to track federal spending. The bill seemed unremarkable except that it was strongly opposed by two senior senators who did not want public disclosure of the pork barrel projects they supported. They placed a secret hold on the bill to prevent a vote.1 Other members of Congress found it difficult to press these more senior members.

Then several political bloggers joined the battle. Glenn Reynolds, N. Z. Bear, and others used their blogs to urge readers to contact their senators and see who was blocking the bill. One congressional aide admitted, “Bloggers mobilized Congress, Congress did not mobilize bloggers.”2

Under scrutiny from blogs and their audiences, the two senators relinquished their hold. Congress passed the bill, and the White House even acknowledged the role of bloggers by inviting several to join the bill-signing ceremony. This was a first. Bloggers were gaining official recognition for setting the agenda and helping to shape legislation.3

Two years earlier, in July 2004, a newly formed group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth began running ads attacking Senator John Kerry’s war record. Kerry’s presidential campaign initially ignored the ads, which were designed to undermine his claims to heroism. The news media followed suit. But the blogosphere aired the charges extensively. Eventually the traditional media could not ignore the story any longer and by August began to cover the charges. The Kerry campaign went on the defensive.4

Attempts to set policy and political agendas are hardly novel. Everyone in national politics seeks to do so: presidents, members of Congress, interest groups, bureaucratic agency heads, and the press. But bloggers are new participants in the agenda-setting process. Their role as agenda seekers—those who work to shape policy agendas—is a far cry from the personal journal writing

-9-

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Typing Politics: The Role of Blogs in American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Agenda Setting 9
  • 2 - Blogs and Politics 22
  • 3 - Bloggers 33
  • 4 - Inside the Blogs 56
  • 5 - Agenda Seekers 82
  • 6 - Journalists 107
  • 7 - The Audience 155
  • Conclusion 178
  • Appendix - Methodology 194
  • Notes 199
  • Index 233
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