The word is that the report from Salon was wrong. See comment at end of article.How does a presidential candidate function when right wing extremists-- some of the nastiest, ugliest, most despicable haters-- go after some of his employees because of things they said in the past on their blogs? That's the question the progressive blogosphere is raising. Chris Bowers, of mydd.com, writes:
I have spent nearly the last four years of my life working on full-time progressive movement building. I do this because I believe a vibrant, healthy and mature progressive movement is the only way to counter the conservative movement, and to achieve the sort of change I want to see in America. Given this, I would rather find a new line of work than, in a Democratic primary, support a candidate who first courts the progressive movement, and then throws it under the bus at the first sign of pushback from the right-wing. We do everything we can to help Democrats, from raising hundreds of millions of dollars, to fighting every single negative media story, to innovative activism, to generating huge amounts of volunteer hours, to putting up with compromise after weak compromise in D.C. and on and on and on. If, despite all of our tireless efforts, someone only views loyalty as something that flows uphill and sh*t as something that flows downhill, then quite frankly I feel supporting that candidate in a primary election would be self-destructive.Bowers makes it clear, in his lengthy blog entry, that this is one "filter" with which he evaluates a candidate, but an important one. On Dailykos, kagrox titles his commentary, The Right vs. Edwards' bloggers? Or everyone's bloggers? says,
The loudest voices calling for Edwards to dismiss his bloggers are -- and no one can doubt this -- never in a million years going to vote for him, either in a primary or a general election. So why are they allowed to drive his decision-making? Not because they can withhold votes from him, but because they can cause Democratic voters to do so instead. Among more conservative (and by extension, perhaps less blog-savvy) Democrats, the hope of those on the right is that the writing they're focusing on will generate outrage, both against the bloggers and those who hired them. Among blog-savvy Democrats, who tend to be a more progressive lot, the opposite may obtain. Even among bloggers and blog readers who have differences with what was written, there's a sense that Edwards needs to stand up for his hires, or be viewed as abandoning the netroots. But to the extent that the netroots seek to demand a show of loyalty by Edwards, that same demand must be made of every Democratic campaign. Today, the target is Edwards. Tomorrow, should this vendetta prove successful, the target could be anyone. Keep in mind that those targeting Edwards simply don't abide by the same standards when it comes to defining what's reasonable discourse and what's not. Perhaps more to the point, they are perfectly willing to say that whatever they're pointing to is beyond the pale whether most Americans would agree or not, if they think it could possibly result in the firing of a Democratic campaign staffer, and by extension, damage to that campaign. So it's just as likely that tomorrow's target will be Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, or Tom Vilsack, or Chris Dodd, or any of the other candidates. That the attack may have to hinge on something that most people would see as perfectly reasonable won't much matter, so long as the professional outrage machine is turned up loud enough. This fight, if Edwards is going to be called upon to make it, must be everyone's fight. If the other campaigns cannot demonstrate that they would have displayed the same courage we call upon Edwards to display, then they benefit from the right's strategy of divide and conquer. And to the extent that they benefit, they give a pass to and encourage such attacks in the future, and are powerless to stop them when the next one comes. All they can do is hold on tight, cross their fingers, and pray they're not the next target. And that's no way to win anything. Certainly not the White House.Now, Salon reports Edwards campaign fires bloggers, saying,
The right-wing blogosphere has gotten its scalps -- John Edwards has fired the two controversial bloggers he recently hired to do liberal blogger outreach, Salon has learned. The bloggers, Amanda Marcotte, formerly of Pandagon, and Melissa McEwan, of Shakespeare's Sister, had come under fire from right-wing bloggers for statements they had previously made on their respective blogs. A statement by the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, which called Marcotte and McEwan "anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots," and an accompanying article on the controversy in the New York Times this morning, put extra pressure on the campaign.Media Matters reports that Networks CNN and MSNBC, in reporting the complaint about the bloggers, which was, apparently, started by noted Catholic Bigot/ Hate Monger, Bill Donohue, who complained that the bloggers had used potty language and said nasty things about Catholics, failed to mention that Donahue is, indeed, a right wing, partisan extremist.
Speculation from sources that the two bloggers might be rehired was bolstered by Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, who said in an e-mail that she would "caution [Salon] against reporting that they have been fired. We will have something to say later."
This is not about Edwards vetting his staffers after the fact. This is not about a candidate purging pottymouths. It is about a candidate showing whether he is a leader who can stand up to the opposition party-- the shrill, ugly voices of the nutjob extremists (Michelle Malkin another right wing extremist operative has also joined in this attack job.) A strong, confident leader will handle this kind of attack like he would a handful of gnats, even though his "handlers" might get hystrionic about it. A tough, able leader will support his staffers and get on top of the attack by making it clear who the attackers are. This is a test for John Edwards. If he passes it, he'll have built some strong bridges with progressives. If he fails it, and fires the bloggers, it is likely he will lose the progressive blogosphere. And that will probably cost him the primary. If he manages to win the primaries, there's no doubt the progressive blogosphere will get behind him. The question is-- will his loss of support in the primaries cost him the opportunity to go head to head with the Republican candidate.
In a February 7 segment on the controversy surrounding two bloggers hired by John Edwards' presidential campaign, CNN aired a clip of Catholic League president Bill Donohue criticizing the bloggers for their "insulting," "incendiary," and "inflammatory" writings. Donohue repeated his criticism of the bloggers during an appearance on the February 7 edition of MSNBC's Tucker. But like similar reports by The New York Times and the Associated Press, neither CNN nor MSNBC noted Donohue's own history of "incendiary" and "inflammatory" commentary. Further, CNN informed viewers that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) hired conservative blogger Patrick Hynes as an "e-consultant," but did not report that Hynes has apparently engaged in smears of his own against Democratic officials and others.
Following the original Times and AP reports on the Edwards controversy -- in which Donohue was quoted describing the bloggers as "anti-Catholic, vulgar, trash-talking bigots" -- Media Matters for America compiled a list of Donohue's own "vulgar" and "bigot[ed]" comments: his statement that "[p]eople don't trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty," his reference to the "gay death style," his demand that homosexuals "apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done," his assertion that Hollywood "is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular," and his claim that Hollywood "likes anal sex" and "abortions."
Furthermore, Media Matters pointed out that Donohue's outrage over the bloggers' previous writings on Catholicism appears highly selective. Indeed, Donohue previously chose to click here anti-Catholic bigotry on the part of a key GOP operative, Jerome Corsi, in 2004. And following actor Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic comments in 2006, Donohue said of Gibson, "There's a lot of people who have made comments which are bigoted who are not necessarily bigots."
But in her segment on the Edwards story, which aired on the February 7 edition of The Situation Room, CNN correspondent Mary Snow included a clip of Donohue slamming the bloggers, while making no mention of his own "inflammatory" comments.
Likewise, on the February 7 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson allowed Donohue to accuse the bloggers -- whom he described as "two little brats" -- of "speak[ing] in the most disparaging way" about Catholics. Donohue went on to assert that "[i]f they had used the n-word even once in their career, they'd have gone by now" and claimed that he does not "want Muslims to be disrespected." But at no point in the interview did Carlson bring up Donohue's own insulting comments toward Muslims and other minorities. Nor did he challenge Donohue regarding his defense of Gibson following Gibson's anti-Semitic remarks.
Further, Snow's CNN report was followed by a segment from Internet reporter Jackie Schechner on the number of presidential campaigns "reaching out to prominent bloggers to try to drum up support." Schechner noted that McCain had hired Patrick Hynes, a blogger for the conservative AnkleBitingPundits.com, as an "e-consultant." But while host Wolf Blitzer had said Schechner would be offering "some context" regarding the Edwards controversy, she made no mention of Hynes' own controversial record, including his apparent past description of Chelsea Clinton as "hideously ugly" and his strong support for the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth, whose baseless smears and attacks against 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry (D-MA) McCain denounced as "dishonest and dishonorable."
The good news is, John Edwards is NOT firing the bloggers. Apparently, Salon was wrong. Edwards blogged on his campaign site announcing that the bloggers were not fired. Amanda Marcotte blogged here response to this event, and her associate, Melissa McEwan also blogged about their blog postings that Donohue had commented on. Bottom line-- John Edwards was tested. He faced a challenge with some similarity to the Swiftboating Kerry faced-- an assault upon him and his team by right wingers. He showed grit and character and flexibility and has earned newfound respect and trust as a candidate who stands for something..