Earlier today Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign actively solicited bloggers to join in on a conference call hosted by their blogger, Peter Daou, in announcing a “special endorsement.” The campaign didn’t release any more information about the endorsement and it was a pretty cryptic move, yet I still decided to join in on the call along with several other major bloggers from across the progressive blogosphere.
So, at 12:30 PM Central time I got on the call to find out that the special endorsement was coming from former Ambassador Joe Wilson, the husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame. And by 12:53 PM I broke the news on Iowa Independent that Amb. Wilson had chosen to endorse Clinton.
Multiple blogs picked up the news and reported the news, as they should have because it was a substantial endorsement. But the traditional or mainstream media didn’t pick up the story at all.
Greg Sargent of TPM’s Election Central posted these thoughts about the call:
“A few quick points about this. The Hillary campaign, which rolled out the Wilson news on a conference call with liberal bloggers, clearly hopes the Wilson endorsement serves at least the partial goal of winning over liberal activists and netroots types who might still be unhappy with Hillary for all the reasons you’ve heard repeatedly by now. Wilson carries great cache among such folks, who were energized by his speaking out against the administration and everything else that happened as a result of his protracted fight with the White House.”
Taylor Marsh wrote:
“The ’08 selection season is not over by a long shot and I am staying neutral in the primary. But the endorsement of Clinton by Joseph Wilson is a big step for her campaign. That Clinton offered the scoop to a group of bloggers shows just how far she’s come and how far she’s willing to engage a community, which on the whole is very critical of her on all fronts. She’s also accepted the invitation to YearlyKos, which I’m looking forward to very much. Clinton is illustrating her ability to engage on all fronts, even where she knows she’ll take heat. The strength of Clinton’s candidacy continues to expand.”
The campaign seemed like they were genuinely reaching out to the netroots constituency, giving them a big story, and were going to let them break the news.
However, the blogs didn’t get credit with breaking the news. The Clinton campaign didn’t direct the traditional or mainstream media to blogposts about the endorsement and then elaborate and what was reported by citizen journalists. Instead, they waited until later in the afternoon and put out a release from the campaign. Their campaign didn’t even post the announcement on their blog until two hours after the conference call occurred and didn’t link to any other bloggers’ reactions (of which their was plenty).
The Des Moines Register first reported their story on the endorsement at 6:15 PM this evening, a full 5 hours after the news was broken at Iowa Independent, on their own blog.
Now, I admit, I’m probably a little pissy and being a bit selfish. Both because I broke the story on Iowa Independent and because I’m a blogger who has been harsh on Clinton in the past. Multiple other blogs around the country, even ones more than important than Bleeding Heartland, have been critical of Clinton (even unfairly so) so when I got today’s invitation to the call I was hopeful that it would be genuine interaction with a constituency or interest group that hadn’t been on her side for a long time. Particularly on the issue of Iraq, she’s had to fight for respect on the blogs.
Other campaigns have been great about highlighting how the netroots help in breaking and spreading news about the campaigns, and even engage them like the traditional media (see Chris Dodd’s, John Edwards’ and Bill Richardson’s campaigns as an example). Heck, Bill Richardson’s campaign sends out a weekly “Richardson Round-Up” in Iowa that highlights what the media–both traditional and new–have been saying about the candidate in the past week.
Instead, the Clinton campaign let the blogs break the news and then let it fester amongst themselves. Then gave the traditional media a heads-up a few hours later and even let Wilson do some one-on-one interviews over the phone.
Maybe I’m just jealous. But it sure seems like if you’re going to reach out, make it count and put some force into it. Don’t do it half-assed.