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Monday, December 13, 2004

"I'll have to look into that"

Posted by Tim Tagaris

I figured if bloggers were kicked out of the Association of Democratic State Chair's (ADSC) Q&A for being "press," I might as well act like a journalist.  So, this morning I picked up the phone determined to talk to someone at the Michigan Democratic Party, where the head of the ADSC, Mark Brewer, sets up shop.

I placed the first call at 8:45 A.M. and the Communications Director, Jason Moon, was not in yet.  I left a message explaining my past role on the Jeff Seemann campaign, that I am currently a blogger on SSP, and wanted to ask him a few questions about Orlando for a piece I was going to write today.  When I didn't get a call back for three hours, I tried again.  This time, he answered.

He indicated that he hadn't heard my message yet.  I explained who I was and what I was doing and just jumped right into it.  I asked if he was aware that there is something of a mild uproar in the netroots about the bloggers getting kicked out of the candidate Q&A?  Jason responded with one word, "yes."

I had every intent of making this a peaceful exchange, so I started out easy.  I asked about the mechansim the state party uses to collect and register feedback on-line.  He responded that there was a link on the website.

At this point, I suspected that he wasn't too interested in taking the time to talk with me.  I decided to jump right into it while I had him on the phone.

Me: Did the Chairman know that the bloggers were the invited guests of Governor Dean and Simon Rosenberg?

Jason: I'll have to look into that

Me: They said they had promised not to write anything about the Q&A, did that make any difference?

Jason: I'll have to look into that

Me: What about the fact that it was an open meeting, that anyone off the street could have attended and then returned home to blog about -- and in fact, did blog about?

Jason:  They did?  Where?

Me: I would have to find an exact link. (Point of fact: A Kos diarist blogged about attending the open and closed session)

Me: Was the Chairman aware of the contributions Jerome and Matt have made to the party in terms of community organizing and netroots fundraising?

Jason: I'll have to look into that.

Me: Why were the bloggers kicked out.

Jason: The meeting was closed to credentialed press, and they had press credentials.

I wasn't getting anywhere with Jason this morning.  I asked him to "look into that" and I could give him a call later.  He immediately asked me to send him the link of where someone blogged about the "closed" Q&A.  I took his email address and was on my way.

So, I emailed Jason.  I said that I would have to pore over my links to find the information he sought.  I included in the email a list of 10 questions that I had about the event.  Some difficult, some decidedly simple.  As a former press guy, I know that emailing in questions makes it easier -- so I decided to give him a break.  I also offered my assistance in helping them set up a blog, to register immediate feedback and allow them to communicate directly and organize activists in Michigan.

I also emailed that we were all on the same team here, want what is best for the Democratic party, and this would be a good opportunity to smooth things over.  So far, it is an opportunity he has failed to respond to.  No email -- no phone call.  I have since followed up with another call, but only got through to voice mail.  I will try again tomorrow, but I am not holding out much hope.  It's unfortunate.

I don't blame Chairman Brewer for not knowing who Matt & Jerome are.  I also believe that most people would understand if throwing them out was a simple misunderstanding that given more time to sort things out and gain understanding would have played out differently.  I really just wanted to give them a vehicle to get their story out in the medium that is most displeased with the events that took place.  No hatchet job, that is the last thing on my mind.  Just an "open Q&A." 

I don't know what overtures, if any, they have made toward Jerome, Matt, and the blogosphere as a whole.  What I do know is that not reaching out or offering an explanation of some kind about the "mild furor" would be real evidence that they still don't get it.  I hope I am wrong.

Posted at 07:45 PM in Michigan | Technorati


One of the oldest rules of rapid response is that you respond in the medium in which you were hit. If the somebody runs a negative newspaper ad you don't run a radio ad to respond so your response is directed to the same audience. While the rule isn't as steadfast now as it once was, it still has a great deal of value.

Thus, as Mark Brewer is discovering, he lacks the tools to reply effectively online. This exposes the Michigan Democratic Party to unnecessary risk.

In this case, we're all on the same team and when Jason Moon calls Tim back I'm sure Brewer will get a fair shake. But this is politics and there are a lot of people out there who won't give Brewer and the MDP the benefit of the doubt. Which is another great reason for a blog.

Additionally, MDP members should be very proud today that they officially delivered Michigan for the fourth time in a row. Providing an online format where the Michigan Democratic Party volunteers could celebrate would be a great way to cement long-term solidarity...and investment in the Party.

Posted by: Bob Brigham at December 13, 2004 10:10 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment