Bloggers and Candidates

BLOGGERS AND CANDIDATES….Jon Chait wonders aloud about the long-term effect of the kerfuffle caused by John Edwards’ hiring of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan. Sure, he says, Edwards decided to stand by them and that was great:

But will this open doors to bloggers being hired by campaigns? My guess is, just the opposite. What this episode demonstrated is that, if you’re a candidate, hiring a blogger may or may not win you the loyalty of that blogger’s friends. But firing that blogger will certainly bring their wrath down upon you. But campaigns, of course, fire staffers pretty often. So why would you hire somebody you can’t fire?

Maybe. But I suspect that’s not how this will play out.

First of all, I imagine that other campaigns will take a little breather and see how this works out. If, as I suspect, the whole controversy has died down after a few weeks and Edwards hasn’t taken a hit, that will send a pretty positive message that hiring bloggers has a bigger upside than downside.

It’s also worth noting a few other things. First, Amanda was sort of a limiting case. Her writing is about as raucous as anyone I can think of, and if a campaign can survive, and even prosper, after hiring her, it actually makes most other bloggers seem like pretty safe hires. Second, the Edwards campaign has taught everyone a lesson in how to handle this kind of thing. Campaigns probably will scour the archives of potential hires a little more carefully now, but they’ll also make it clear up front that personal blogging doesn’t represent the candidate. I suspect that a general truce along these lines will shortly become the norm. And third, as more bloggers get hired by campaigns, the blogosphere will have less invested in each one. So sure, bloggers will get fired occasionally, just like other campaign staffers, but it won’t be that big a deal when there are dozens working for various campaigns instead of just two or three.

Nobody’s going to support a candidate just because the campaign hired a blogger they like. But that’s not the point. If you want to know the ins and outs of dealing with the blogosphere, a blogger is the best bet to help you out. That was true a week ago, and it’s still true today.

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