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.

The Camera is Always On!

18 07 2008

By Martin Moleski

A video of the Rev. Jesse Jackson that circulated through the news media and video sharing sites this past week made me think about a discussion I’ve had with my brother on multiple occasions. The conversation basically goes like this:

Me: “Why can’t a person realize that when there is a camera focused on his face he shouldn’t say racist, sexist or derogatory remarks?”

Brother: “Maybe he thought the camera was off.”

Me: “The camera is always on, what an idiot.”

The world in which we now live means we have no privacy. With YouTube, Google, cell phones with video capability and computers that save EVERYTHING, your dirty laundry is going to get aired in some way or another. As a side note, I’ll inform you right now that just because you ‘delete’ your browsing history, temporary Internet files and e-mails, our government is quite sophisticated and way ahead of you and they’ll get the info they need – See Marc Dann, Elliot Spitzer for proof.

If you are a public official, or are currently campaigning to become one, be prepared to have each and every word scrutinized and compared to your previous comments. And when your opposition finds a contradiction or flip-flop on video you better be prepared to justify your statements. And it’s tough to do because once you start back peddling you only dig yourself a deeper hole.

So my advice to you is simple. First, always be aware of the fact that your conversation with a neighbor, relative or voter could be recorded, posted online and viewed by thousands of people without you even knowing it. Second, control your own message and be consistent. If you hate saying the same thing over and over again, then you’re probably doing it right. And, finally, even if you’re not running for public office, don’t make racist, sexist or derogatory comments. I know I shouldn’t have to say that last one, but look at the videos below to see some great examples of people not understanding that the camera is always on.

Be careful out there!

Senator Joe Biden makes racist comment
George Allen makes racist comment while waving to cameraman
Congressional candidate Kirk Schuring fears the City of Canton
Senator John Kerry can’t tell a joke