Should Candidates be Citing Blogs on their Mailers?

22 10 2008

Martin Moleski

This post will hopefully fire up some of the most active bloggers out there. You know, the political junkies like me who follow campaigns year-round and analyze every lit piece with a watchful eye? One increasing trend that I have noticed this election year is citing blog posts to back up accusations for or against a candidate, which led me to ask the question seen in the headline.

Rest assured there are some great political blogs out there. Both Republican and Democratic blogs attract a unique fan base and often take up way too much of my time. I frequently read The Point, a bi-partisan blog run by Kyle Kutuchief of the ChiefSource and Ben Keeler of the Keeler Political Report regarding issues that affect Northeast Ohio. I also frequent other blogs like NaugBlog, Buckeye State Blog, Ohio Daily Blog , Red State and Each blog offers insight into the bloggers’ ideologies and discuss important local and state issues that I often can’t find in the mainstream media. Most importantly, they occasionally allow me to vent some of my own frustrations with the political process.

By 2004 the impact of blogging on the political process was very apparent as local, state and national candidates hired bloggers to keep the masses aware of what was happening on the campaign trail. The bloggers often had inside information that the mainstream media could never have access to and could post information faster without having the filter of the mainstream media holding them back. In addition, most bloggers don’t/won’t name sources, meaning campaigns staffers are more willing to talk openly and honestly with them.  Perhaps this important distinction could have been the difference in Matt Naugle of NaugBlog breaking the Marc Dann sexual harassment scandal instead of the Columbus Dispatch or another major newspaper.

So, there is no need to debate the importance of blogs, nor their influence on the political process. What concerns me is the amount of freedom and lack of accountability when information posted on blogs is used on political mailers or flyers. The way I see it, I could post untruthful or misleading information on a blog about any particular candidate, and his/her opposition could cite that information without really needing to verify the information. The detrimental effect of this, of course, comes when there is not sufficient time to challenge the untruthful statement.

It would be interesting to know if the Ohio Elections Commission has discussed any rules on whether or not information posted on blogs can be used in campaign materials.  My relatively quick search found no such rules in place. Please, share your thoughts.



3 responses

22 10 2008

It depends on what information is taken from the blog in question. If the mailer is quoting a reported fact, then I would say it’s most likely in bounds. if the mailer is quoting an opinion, then it all depends on who is being quoted.

Overall, blogs fill in the gaps that the mainstream media creates for itself. Some are better than others, but it’s important that with any argument, you always go back to the source.

22 10 2008

Thanks for comment. However, as I said in the post, what if there is no time to go back to the source? More importantly, why are there no rules from the Ohio Elections Commission to hold someone accountable should a blog post affect the outcome of a race? Surely, MSM and candidates are held accountable for their actions and statements during the campaign. I see it as a loophole in the system.

22 10 2008
Kyle Kutuchief

Martin, good questions raised in your post.

In the Democratic Primary this year, several of the Columbus candidates listed Buckeye State Blog in their list of endorsements. I could see that sort of endorsement appearing in a mailer and being something a campaign should use. As news paper endorsements mean less each cycle, perhaps blog endorsements will fill the void. If a Republican was trying to make the case in a primary that they are the true conservative, an endorsement from Right Angle Blog or Naublog could mean much more than an endorsement from a newspaper. For Democrats, the support of Democrat blogs could be more helpful too.

Now, I think what you are asking with your title is should a campaign use a blog as a source in a negative mail piece? You hit the nail on the head by seeing it as a loop hole and one that needs regulation because blogs are a part of our media and can affect the outcome of a race. I’m not sure what form those would take, but a basic requirement I would have is that the campaign be required to cite the bloggers real name and that the webdomain be owned by that blogger or a co-blogger.

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