It looks like about
250 people a standing room only crowd has showed up here at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics to see how blogs are impacting modern day politics. The bloggers back stage Jerome Armstrong of MYDD, Erick Ericson of Red State Patrick Hynes of Ankle Bitung Pundits and consultant to GOP Presidential candidate John McCain, Scott Johnson Co-Founder of Powerline Blog. Joan McCarter of Daily Kos and our host Professor David Perlmutter all seem very relaxed and are enjoying each others company.
Some mild controlled chaos as last minute details of who is sitting where is worked out. The Institute’s Director Bill Lacy has made the introductions and the bloggers are taking the stage.
Just before the panel started we were all allowed to take a private tour of the archives and for all of us political junkies it was amazing.
“the most important lesson for presidential candidates to learn is this is not a static medium that they talk it. It is an interactive medium.
The first most important think is we are not an ATM. Politicians looked at all the money Howard Dean raised and thought of us as an ATM machine. We are more than that now and will demand more than that now.”
“My partner John Hinderacker and I started writing about politics on their law practice site in 1992 for fun.”
â€œmy advice to any politician would be donâ€™t try to use blogs. These people are too smart for that.
â€œbetween now and 2003 the size of the universe the number of people reading blogs has increased 1,000%â€
Professor Perlmutter asks Jerome if his advice would change now that blogs have grown so much.
“Last time Howard Dean was the only one. Now it is a much more competitive landscape. Any candidate who doesnâ€™t have a presence will be the anomaly.”
Erick Erickson â€œthe pew study done about a year ago pointed out that only 11% of Americans really read blogs but they are the people who influence othersâ€
Joan McCarter â€œactually Chelsea is the one who got President Clinton to start reading blogs.â€
Scott Johnson looked amazed at Joanâ€™s claims that a documentary on 9/11 had factual errors about the actions taken by President Clintonâ€™s before 9/11.
Jerome Armstrong â€œIf you look at what Bill Clinton did with the rapid response in 1992 that was very innovative. A blog is exponentially faster than that.â€
David Perlmutter asks the group to grade todays presidential candidates and who they would give the highest remarks to.
Jerome Armstrong â€œ I would say John Edwardsâ€
Scott Johnson â€œhe is just the first guy who has gone through a convulsionâ€
Erick Erickson â€œI think I am supposed to say John McCainâ€ to laughter.
Giuliani is just getting his campaign off the ground. I would have to say Romney and McCain. On the Democratic side I would have to agree with Edwards but I am fascinated with the site Barak Obama has launched.
Professor Perlmutter I have a technical question for you all. It is no great surprise when a presidential candidate gives a great speech but it was written by somebody else. But wouldnâ€™t that take away from a blog post?
Jerome Armstrong â€œI ask the candidates I work with to blog themselves. â€œ
Patrick Hynes â€œ I think what Jerome is saying and I agree. There has to be a certain level of candor. You have to engage in the discussionâ€.
Professor Perlmutter asks about Wesley Clarkâ€™s wespac website. Someone asked him about Roswell and General Clark answered he had never been briefed on Roswell so he didnâ€™t know.
What do you say to candidates or consultants who donâ€™t want to put their candidates in a position where they have to answer questions from nuts?
Patrick Hynes â€œIf you arenâ€™t prepared to answer questions then you are not fit for high ranking office.â€
Scott Johnson â€œ I think the gift of being able to communicate well with people regains its importanceâ€
Erick Ericksonâ€ itâ€™s stereotypical but I think it is the truth what goes on in the beltway is very different from what goes on out hereâ€
Scott Johnson â€œWith blogs the mainstream media filter comes down. In the pre blog era i
If you read a lot of columnists on the left and the right it is the columnists who have a bigger problem with us than the politicians do.
Patrick Hynes â€œthatâ€™s the meat of it. All of my friends all across the political spectrum whether they are deeply involved in politics or not their number one complaint is the media. The media decides the issues, the media decides the topics of discussion.
We are taking out the middleman in this process. â€œ
Erick Erickson â€œI am starting to find journalists are starting to seek out bloggers more and moreâ€. Bloggers are really starting to outshine mainstream journalists in in depth political reporting. â€œ
Joan McCarter â€œpolitical junkies love polls so on every website you are going to see the polls. Because we have so many geeks who read blogs and I say that lovingly they are very good at dissecting the meaning of those pollsâ€
Blogging is changing. There are now professional bloggers. I am a professional blogger. I get paid for blogging. As it becomes professionalized that come become the new generation of punditry.
Professor Perlmutter opens up panel up to questions from the audience.
Patrick Hynes” if you read Chris Andersons the Long Tail, we make all of our judgements based on a filter. That used to be guys like David Broader. Then it was guys like Jerome. Now its your friends. With sites like facebook its your peers on your friends list.
Scott Johnson â€œI hope every republican realizes that every speech they give is going to be video tapedâ€
The first hostile moment of the event.
A woman in the audience points out that all of the panelists are white and all but one are white.
Jerome answers yes that is true but the blogosphere is not made up of white rich people. There are thousands of different communities made up of different people and backgrounds.
The woman persists and challenges the panel to point out one political blog that is produced by a non white poor person.
Scott Johnson replies blogging is free. If you want to change that then go start a blog now nothing is stopping you.
The woman is raising her voice now stating poor people do not have internet access.
Professor Perlmutter interrupts and gets the panel back on track.
Erick Erickson â€œone thing I have to give John McCain credit for is there are very few issues where John McCain is ambiguous.
One of the criticisms I consistently have heard of is that blogs cater to their base. If you are on the left you read blogs on the left and if you are on the right you read blogs on the right. There really arenâ€™t any moderate blogs out there.
Jerome â€œwe may not talk to each other but we do fight with each otherâ€ Laughter.
Erick Erickson I have some well meaning friends who set out to create blogs that cater to the middle and without fail they all either descended in to being dominated by the left or by the right.
Will blogs make stump speeches antiquated? And will blogs bring any candidate down this cycle.
Joan McCarter â€œthere will always be stump speeches. Hopefully it will force them to become more relevantâ€.
Jerome Armstrong â€œit is important for candidates to understand there are lots of other communities out there other than political blogs. One of the first things I did with Mark Warnerâ€™s campaign was to have him reach out to the Tech blogosphereâ€
Is there a danger of the blogosphere becoming an echo chamber of the thought leaders? Is it possible that their influence is overstated?
Eric â€œYesâ€ Patrick â€œYesâ€
Do you think the blogosphere favors one party over the other?
Jerome â€œI would say right now it benefits the Democratic Party more as they have been the party out of power. The blogosphere gives the party out of power a voice.â€
Patrick â€œI would say the democratic activist base got very very good at using the internet in sort of a Darwinian way because they had to.
The conservative bloggers donâ€™t view themselves so much as part of a movement as daily kos readers do. They view themselves as much more independent.
Jeromeâ€ Donâ€™t you think that will change especially if you lose the presidency in 08?
Patrick â€œwell we are trying to change itâ€
You will have to watch C-Span for the great exchange Scott Johnson and Jerome just had about how on blogs on the right tend to focus more of their attention on the gatekeepers of the mainstream media vs the left side which has focused more on helping Democrats win elections.
I just wasnâ€™t able to type it fast enough and donâ€™t want to paraphrase the exchange.
Do you think the blogosphere will allow less well financed candidates be able to compete in the near future.
Joan McCarter â€œI doubt in the near future. We are still dominated by television. As video improves maybe but for right now they are still going to need that 800 millionâ€
Jerome â€œmy view is that campaigns are going to become more expensive. Media has become so fragmented there are so many different channels and vehicles you have to put energy and money in to each of them.
Patrick â€œit will be more expensive when radio came along it didnâ€™t do away with billboards and yard signs it just added a new expense.
Where do you see blogging going? Do you see it replacing traditional media or fighting for more of a percentage of the pie?
Patrick â€œI donâ€™t I think there are going to be a number of large blogs that continue to be more and more successful and big media companies are going to see them take more and more of their market share and they are going to come in and try to buy them and that is going to ruin blogging.
Jerome â€œI see it more from the movement side of blogging, at that level then you really begin to impact local politicsâ€
Erick gave some great stats that I will get from him later but continued on to say â€œBlog readers are more likely than not to send money to candidates, more likely than not to write to their representatives, more likely than not to run for office.â€
And thatâ€™s it.
Great panel. Watch it on C-Span.
John’s wife Beth has a great post as well at She Who Will Be Obeyed.