Friday, December 07, 2007

On regurgitation

For a communications guy, Dan Bartlett said something very, very stupid to Texas Monthly (via Captain's Quarters):
What about the blogs?

We had to set up a whole new apparatus to deal with the challenges they pose. Are they real journalists? The Washington Post, for example, has journalists who are now bloggers. Do you treat them as bloggers? Do they get credentials?

Let’s think of it as a practical matter. If one of those journalists-turned-bloggers, Chris Cillizza, e-mails you to say he needs an interview, and at the same time one of the Post’s print reporters—say, Dan Balz—e-mails you and says he needs an interview, and you can do only one . . .


Because the print edition of the Post has more of an impact?

Because Balz is on multiple platforms. He’s booked more easily on television. He’s read by more people. He influences people a bit more. Now, the question might not be as much Chris versus Dan as maybe, “Is it Dan Balz or one of the guys at [the conservative blog] Power Line?”

Yeah, or what if [conservative blogger] Hugh Hewitt called?

That’s when you start going, “Hmm . . .” Because they do reach people who are influential.

Well, they reach the president’s base.

That’s what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.

Actually, what Bartlett says has a hint of truth to it. I enjoy Hugh Hewitt's work, but he will 'regurgitate' for his favored politicians. Hewitt's tendency to carry water for his favorites has angered me at times and reduced how prominent a position he has in my rotation. Hewitt isn't alone, though. Most bloggers are essentially opinion columnists and will carry water for those they favor. Having said that, though, Bartlett's comments, italicized above, are horribly naive and arrogant. Bartlett is implying that bloggers are controllable. Some may be, but most are not. They will turn on an official that they see as having gone wrong. And Bartlett just put those that are controllable on warning that they are being used. He couldn't have done a better job of undercutting the ability of politicians to 'manage' blogger relations if he tried.

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