Friday, October 28, 2005


Steve G's Kaine-Kos Kontroversy...

Local papers pick up -- in brief -- the "Sambo"/MD Senate/VA governor story: Here's The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post.

The Sun quotes a MD Democratic Party spokesman: "This rogue attack on Lt. Gov. Steele is distasteful, despicable and degrading.Democrats are ready to engage Michael Steele in a spirited discussion about the issues that matter to Maryland and to our nation. ... Hatred and bigotry are enemies of the Democratic principles of fairness and opportunity for all people." Tim Kaine's spokeswoman said, "It's a racist image, and we did not want our campaign ad appearing next to a racist image."

Those statements demonstrate two things: 1) The real-life political world is very different from the blogosphere; 2) the across-the-line offensiveness of Steve's words and imagery were objectively apparent -- and politically self-destructive. Explaining to most people that they were created by a black person criticizing another black person just doesn't cut it. Certain things are, ahem, "beyond the pale".

Meanwhile Kos' comment in The Post is problematic in a different way. "I don't want bloggers to be afraid to say things because they don't want to offend an advertisers." Well, this site hasn't gotten around to doing a full-on ad solicitation -- it's still basically a labor of love. However, a balance has to be recognized among bloggers of all political stripes.

Once one accepts advertising, blogs become part of the business world. But, the advertisers have business -- and other -- interests. At certain points, it suits the advertiser's purposes to appear in a certain medium. At other times, they may decide they don't want to be there. Given the politically-charged nature of many blogs, candidates, parties and others will always consider what is said and appears next to the space in which their name, campaign or product appears. Bloggers are incredibly naive if they don't realize that. I would also add -- if Kos continues to take the position that candidates who pull ads deemed offensive or problematic are somehow "cowards" -- the "'Net" result will be campaigns shying away from edgy sites -- or supporting thin-skinned bloggers. Why risk a "double-hit" -- embarrassed by a bit of content and then rebuked because you choose to remove your own ad? How many newspapers would get new advertisers if they went out and ran attack stories or columns on a previous customer who yanked an ad?

Something to think about.

Finally, I'm glad that the story has entered Professor Reynolds'
radar, but how come he links to the Scripps Howard story, while the controversy has raged across various points of the blogosphere for the last two days? I'm not just tooting my own horn here, but a cursory look at our two previous posts notes the broad range of the discussion; Steve's slam against Tim Kaine identifies Andrew Sullivan's role; Michelle Malkin took note and the issue triggered one of the lengthiest comment threads ever among the Kossacks (with some objectively interesting debate about balancing blog freedom vs. campaign pragmatism).

But Glenn only points out a wire service story? What's up with that?

NOTE: Originally an early-morning update on the "Kaine Mutiny" post, this was subsequently edited and expanded.

UPDATE: The guys at Real Clear Politics provide a handy chronology of the Gilliard-George-Sullivan-Kaine contretemps.

UPDATE II: DC tipsheet The Hotline's Blogometer hits all the bases on the story (scroll down after Fitzgerald stuff).

UPDATE III: The mother-lovin' saga continues.

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