Typing Politics: The Role of Blogs in American Politics

By Richard Davis | Go to book overview

5
Agenda Seekers

On April 6, 2008, Senator Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate, stood before an audience of potential donors in San Francisco and told the group that rural Pennsylvanians voting in a presidential primary later that month who had lost jobs in their small towns “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them…. as a way to explain their frustrations.”1 Because the fund-raiser was closed to the news media, Obama’s statements did not appear in the press. But a blogger, who was an Obama supporter and had donated to him, was present and audio-recorded the candidate’s speech. After four days of agonizing over whether to blog about the comments, she finally decided that her journalistic role trumped her supporter role. She posted the audio recording on The Huffington Post.2 Immediately the comments became news. Senator Hillary Clinton used them to prove that her opponent was an elitist. Commentators and pundits weighed in to criticize or defend Obama. Even Republican nominee Senator John McCain, who had largely stayed out of the Democratic nomination battle, joined in the criticism of the Illinois senator by suggesting that Obama’s remarks demonstrated he was out of touch with average Americans.3

But the McCain campaign quickly found itself in its own controversy thanks to another blogger on The Huffington Post. On April 14 the blogger revealed that a reader had been conducting Google searches for recipes and found that the McCain campaign had plagiarized recipes from the Food Network Web site. The campaign had placed seven recipes on the campaign Web site and billed them as “Cindy’s Recipes,” the favorites of Senator McCain’s wife. However, the post showed that three of the recipes were from the Food Network and one was essentially a recipe by Rachael Ray. Embarrassed, the campaign quickly removed the recipes from the Web site and blamed an intern.4

In both cases, the press moved on. But for a brief moment, the campaign agenda had been temporarily changed, particularly in the case of the Obama

-82-

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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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