Typing Politics: The Role of Blogs in American Politics

By Richard Davis | Go to book overview

2
Blogs and Politics

It was an incongruous moment for the dawn of the power of new technology: the center of attention was an icon from the past. Strom Thurmond, longtime South Carolina politician and former segregationist third-party presidential candidate, was being feted by his colleagues as he closed his nearly half-century career in the U.S. Senate. Among the 500 guests were many Washington notables, including four Supreme Court justices.1 Several politicians spoke, including former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. They noted Thurmond’s role in American history and praised him for his accomplishments over a long life.

But Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, went further. Lott said that his state had voted for Thurmond when the former segregationist ran for president as a third-party candidate in 1948. Lott went on: “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”2

The statement elicited some gasps from the attendees but no reaction from the press who covered the event. Major newspaper stories the next day, a Friday, reported the birthday party but made no reference to Lott’s comments.3 Nor did the comments appear on television—with one exception. ABC News included the incident in a story on an early morning broadcast, but it did not run on Good Morning, America. The story also received some attention in an online column on the ABC News Web site, where the quote was placed in the middle of other news. The story was picked up later that morning by a journalist for Slate and another for Salon. By early afternoon, the story appeared on the blog Eschaton. Another blog, Talking Points Memo, followed in midafternoon. Both added historical material about Thurmond that put the Lott quote in a critical context of advocating segregation and opposing civil rights.

Senator Lott was not slow in responding to the growing criticism of his remarks, particularly when his office got a call from a Washington Post

-22-

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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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