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The Gross National Debt

Friday, October 28, 2005

The blog in question? The News Blog. The shooting? Complicated, but I'll try to make it as simple as possible.

First, Tim Kaine is a Democrat running for Governor of Virginia. The election is being held on November 8th of this year. So yes, if you're checking your calendar, it's right around the corner - about a week away. Kaine has had a pretty heated and close battle with the Republican candidate, Jerry Kilgore. This is a race that is within the MOE of any reputable poll and it's going to come right down to the wire.

So, having that background, it won't surprise you that Tim Kaine's campaign has been doing a lot of advertising - it's critical at this stage of the race, especially given how close all the polls are. One of the ad buys he did was on The News Blog. So now that you have that background, I'll direct your attention to this post on The News Blog. I don't want to steal Steve Gilliard's (the blog's owner) photoshopped picture of Michael Steele for a variety of reasons, one being that stealing other people's stuff isn't ok and another being that the picture itself is repulsive - suffice it to say that it is a photoshopped picture of Michael Steele, Republican Lieutenant Governor in Maryland. Mr. Steele appears to be running for the Senate. Mr. Steele is black. The picture itself has been altered to make Mr. Steele look like sambo. I am not a fan of Mr. Steele nor a fan of his politics. The picture is - well, inflammatory, especially to a casual observer who doesn't read the text associated with the post. Mr. Gilliard, in my opinion, has a solid point to make about Mr. Steele's politics and his reputation (which is not good) within the Maryland black community - but labelling him "Simple Sambo" and captioning the altered picture with "I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House" is likely something that an advertiser, especially a political candidate in the dwindling days of a heated race, would run away from at full speed. So now that you have that background, here's what I can figure out.

Steve Gilliard publishes the "Simple Sambo" post. For reasons unknown, Andrew Sullivan and people who frequent his blog have seen the post and have sent emails and made comments about Gilliard being a racist. Mr. Gilliard fires back with this post to the Sullivan crew. Although I can't say for certain how it transpired, Mr. Gilliard insinuates that Sullivan's supporters have been emailing Tim Kaine's campaign as to the "Simple Sambo" post. It is also possible that Kaine's campaign simply saw the post in question and had a negative reaction. In any case, Kaine's campaign writes this email to Mr. Gilliard:

Mr. Gilliard:

Please remove all advertising for Kaine for Governor from News Blog http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/) immediately.

If you have any questions, please contact me at 202-465-XXXX or at john@xxxxxxxxx.xxx.

John Rohrbach
Internet Director
Kaine for Governor

I have x'd out certain details in an effort not to perpetuate what is likely an innundation of the Kaine campaign staffer's email inbox and voicemail

Note for the record that the request was to pull the ad that was already paid for. Kaine's campaign is not asking for a refund. Gilliard has his money, the email was sent directly to Gilliard (e.g., it wasn't a public event), and Gilliard, imo, is unharmed in any way.

Now the shit hits the fan. Gilliard fires off this post, entitled Tim Kaine is a Coward. In the post he features a full campaign photo of Tim Kaine as well as the text of the original email and an encouragement that his readers contact John Rohrbach from Kaine's campaign. Gilliard doesn't really seem to be calling Kaine a coward for pulling the ad - moreover, Gilliard seems angered that Tim Kaine is "caving" to pressure from the readers of Andrew Sullivan's blog.

All right. That's the background - you can go over to The News Blog and read the posts yourself - above was only my summary. Now for my commentary. Imagine that The News Blog is The Washington Post. Tim Kaine does an ad buy in The Washington Post. During the duration of the ad run, The Post comes out strongly against Tim Kaine, writing a scathing editorial or what have you such that the Kaine campaign begins to believe that they are perhaps hurting (rather than helping) their cause. They request that The Post discontinue their ad - they don't ask for money back. The Post continues to be free to criticize Tim Kaine on the issues associated with his campaign. But can you even envision The Post writing an article all about how cowardly, in their opinion, Tim Kaine is/was because he pulled his ads? Absolutely not.

What Gilliard did was bad enough - and bear in mind that generally I agree with Gilliard politically and admire his diligence in blogging his opinions and news items - but other blogs, namely the venerable Daily Kos jumped into the act. Kos himself posted this to the front page. Note that he references a "chilling effect". I find that highly ironic - to me, the "chilling effect" is a blogger who shoots himself in the foot by doing what no other publication, online or otherwise, would do. The "chilling effect" is the ridiculous lack of professionalism demonstrated by Steve Gilliard. Do you think any candidate in their right mind would now purchase ad space on his blog? No. Is political advertising the high water mark of the legitimacy of someone's views and writings? No, but it certainly doesn't hurt, if one is a progressive blogger, to have progressives interested in buying ad space. Markos further compounded what was already an embarrassing (to me, at least, as a blogger) episode by further publicizing it on his blog, which is heavily trafficked. Not only did he just give the other side ammunition - he loaded the gun for them and placed it in their hands.

I love Daily Kos and I can't say how disappointed I am. Tim Kaine could lose this race - it's that close - Daily Kos is a site founded by Markos to elect Democrats and progressives. To what end does such a post assist in that cause? I'll answer for you - it doesn't. It works against it. Moreover, I live in Virginia and I would rather see silence than a thwarting of support from the blogging community where Tim Kaine is concerned. Yes, Markos tried to amend his front-page post to point out that Tim Kaine is still "better" than Jerry Kilgore, but the damage is done - and likely more to the blogging community and to himself than to Tim Kaine.

Note: A special thanks to kid oakland for pulling all of the details together in his diary on the same subject at Daily Kos. Visit his blog, k/o if you get a chance - it's a daily read for me. Kid oakland's diary was the inspiration for my post here.



posted by RenaRF at 5:35 AM 4 comments links to this post

4 Comments:

Anonymous work from home said...

Hiya, I was searching around for info on how to write a good blog. I found yours and it seems to be written well. I have a couple of blogs and I have decided to have some on current affairs and others on my personal stuff. One of my blogs in www.adminsupervisor.blogspot.com and another one is my work from home in the uk site. You have given me a couple of tips of what I want to write about so cheers! Come and look at my site in a couple of weeks or so, it will be better then. Thanks again.

9:36 AM  
Blogger kid oakland said...

Hey Rena...

I was going to tell you about word id...spam protection.

I avoided it by delisting my blog....but that means I don't appear on google searches much.

Argh.

Thanks for the link.

kid o.

9:36 PM  
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