Posts from July 29, 2004



: There is no word that damns with faint praise more than “competent.”

John Kerry gave a competent speech tonight. It was a primary speech, the sort of message you give when you’re running against and not running for. There were scant mentions of George Bush but this was most a speech against Bush rather than for a Kerry vision.

What bothers me about the speech — besides the John-John moment with the silly salute — is its American defensiveness. He leads with making America “respected in the world.” As far as I am concerned, this should not be a primary goal of an administration; at most, it is a fringe benefit. We should do what we need to do and if the world respects that, fine; if France doesn’t, I still don’t give a damn.

And as one of the pundits said tonight, Kerry echoes Bush post-Clinton when he says:

We have it in our power to change the world again. But only if we’re true to our ideals – and that starts by telling the truth to the American people. That is my first pledge to you tonight. As President, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House.

It was, oddly, a military speech aimed at not using the military. That is a hard line to dance and he danced it: I can use armed forces better than Bush but I will use them less than Bush.

I enjoyed the ovation against Ashcroft. The crowd enjoyed cheering against Cheney.

I wish I heard more about health insurance, more specifics of the plan. Is this just a shift of tax dollars to create credits for premiums or is this reform and universal protection?

There was nothing to hate in the speech, nothing to love. It was competent.

: Robert George of the NY Post, on CNN as a conservative voice, says we just heard the speech of the winner. Nervous Republican.



: Glenn Reynolds opens up his comments for live blogging of Kerry’s speech by his audience.

If you could judge a man by his children…

If you could judge a man by his children…

: Alexandra Kerry, the dark-haired daughter we hear less often, gave a great speech tonight, from telling the story of her father’s CPR on a sodden hamster to endorsing her father’s poltical vision. She humanized him and his policies. Impressive.

A degree in snot

A degree in snot

: Jay Rosen gets an incredible email from a colleague, a fellow journalism professor — though they are professors from different planets. The email came from professor Thomas L. McPhail of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Jay: Do you tell your j students that they are wasting their time getting a j degree, rather they should just run out and become bloogers and pretend journalists with no commitment to ethics, laws, fairness etc. Tom McPhail ps how are the bloogers at the DNC? I am afraid that in the charge to get the scoop of the conference, that they may send out unedited or unchecked rumours as if it/they were fact. Thanks

Jay says:

That’s not the kind of note you edit or change in any way, and I haven’t touched it. Now this is the same professor Thomas L. McPhail of the University of Missouri-St. Louis who wound up in dueling quotes with your correpondent (me) in the text of a USA Today article some weeks ago, previewing bloggers at the convention. (It also made Romenesko, the daily bulletin board for journalists.) Here’s his quote:

That bloggers get front seats bothers Tom McPhail, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri:

”They’re certainly not committed to being objective. They thrive on rumor and innuendo,” McPhail says. Bloggers ”should be put in a different category, like ‘pretend’ journalists.”

The priests are nervous, eh? The people are outside the cathedral tacking up their 95 theses and the priests are sticking their fingers in their ears, trying to ignore them, telling each other that those guys outside aren’t blessed with the right to perform the sacraments of the church. They think they own “ethics, laws, fairness etc.” Hell, they think they own the truth. But, of course, they don’t. And what the priests don’t see is that the reason the rabble is organizing outside is that they are fed up with the priests and their indulgences and their failures.

Welcome to the First Reformed Church of Journalism, professor.

: UPDATE: Was thinking on the way home… So, Prof. McPhail, what do you tell your students? Do you tell them to ignore these newfangled webloggers? Do you tell them not to listen to their public? Do you tell them that their business will continue on in the future with the same revenue and resources it has had in the past? Do you tell them tell them that journalists are perfect? What do you tell them about Jayson Blair? What do you tell them about the public’s lack of trust in the news media? What do you tell them about the magnetic draw that opinionated journalism — whether FoxNews or the Guardian or weblogs — has for the public? What do you tell your students, professor?

DNC bounces blogger

DNC bounces blogger

: The National Journal reports that Matt Stoller has been bounced as an official DNC blogger on its site because he was critical of Barack Obama on his own Blogging the President site.

I actually wondered whether somebody was cruising for a crash the other day as I read Matt’s posts on Blogging the President. The problem is that when you become “official” somewhere, it affects your ability to speak outside of that official capacity: When you say what you think as a person are you speaking as an official?

I actually think that if this story pans out (I’ve emailed Matt asking him for his view), it’s the DNC that comes off worse; it’s another blogging booboo. First they invite lots of bloggers and then disinvite some because — I still don’t believe this story — they suddenly realized that space was limited. If that is true, then they should have thought ahead. And now they reportedly bounce Stoller because he still had the opinions of a blogger and voter on anther site. If that is true, then, again, they should have thought ahead and either recognized that would happen and lived with it or they should have told Matt to be official for the week of the convention and give up the other blog. But in both cases, by not thinking on inch ahead of their Kerry noses, they turned a positive into a negative, needlessly.

There’s a lesson here for all organizations that want to get into blogging with their own official blogs — and for all those who blog for them: Know the groundrules. This is why I think that most large organizations — especially the DNC — would have been better off pointing to lots of bloggers and letting the bloggers speak on their own rather than trying to horn their way into the fun like a grandma at a rap concert.

This, by the way, is also why Glenn Reynolds is right that it matters that Duncan Black nee Atrios works for a Soros-backed Media Matters: The perspective matters and the official relationship matters, for your readers want to know when you’re speaking officially; they need to know to trust you.

Here are reports on Stoller. The National Journal says:

The deleted blogger, Matt Stoller, was the “blog community coordinator” for the DNCC, which organized the convention here. On Monday, opening day, he critiqued convention keynote speaker Barack Obama by unfavorably comparing him with Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the Democratic candidate for vice president.

Stoller continues to blog on his personal site and retains the credentials he was granted to help other bloggers make preparations to come to the convention, the first major political gathering to grant credentials to such individual Web posters. But the post at The Blogging of the President, where Stoller is the editor, prompted the DNCC to sever its affiliation with Stoller and remove his name from the blog of the committee’s Web site.

Taegen Goddard got email reaction from Stoller:

“It’s a mischaracterization of the situation. I was a volunteer for the Convention helping with the blog and blog outreach, and I posted on the DNCC blog for some amount of time. We never figured out whether I would be blogging for the DNCC during the Convention… Beyond that, there are several other factual errors in the piece. I didn’t compare Obama unfavorably to Edwards, and I am not college age.”

See also Dave Winer.

Bottom lines: The DNC should have known that Stoller is a smart blogger with his own opinions and view of the world and it is clumsy and ultimately ignorant of them to let that get in the way. If they had a problem with that they should n ever have had him blog on their own blog — or they shouldn’t have their own blog. And everybody would be well-served to be open and transparent about this.

: UPDATE: Here’s Matt’s post on this. I’m running out so I don’t have a chance to say more; just go read it. Sounds as if, indeed, a reporter streteched the taffy. There are still interesting issues in Matt taking an official role with the DNC as a blog rep and then still blogging here and there – nothing a little transparency won’t cure. So I’m glad he has posted.