Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Toward vigorous public debate

One of the blogs I read is hosting a vigorous argument over the announcement that the Obama campaign is putting together a team to debunk Internet rumors. The original post suggests that they are attempting to intimidate critics. (Please follow the links, as the linked articles are far less inflammatory than the base post.)

Purely as a practical matter, I think it's highly unlikely that they are going to visit lots of individually run blogs and yell at people who post falsehoods. They just don't have the resources. It's far more likely that they are going to take on the likes of Instapundit and Drudge Report, who have audiences larger than many newspapers. Once a rumor is repeated on sites like those, it takes on a life of its own and really can't be ignored.

But even if they did respond to smaller blogs, so what? The whole point of blogging is that individuals can get their opinions out there, and now it's intimidation if campaigns actually pay attention?

Sorry, I don't get it. Yes, it would be intimidation if representatives of a campaign appeared at your door in person, or threatened dire consequences for speaking your mind, but that's not what's happening here. We're talking about public responses to comments made in a public forum. It's the adult equivalent of freaking out because your parents read your MySpace page. Only less rational, because you can bet the Obama staffers will make sure their behavior (in a public, hostile forum, remember) is absolutely above reproach.

(I'm also a bit puzzled that this is even newsworthy. Political campaigns on both sides of the aisle have had "war rooms" and "truth squads" for years. The only thing new is the emergence and influence of Internet media, coupled with a candidate who understands their importance.)

1 comment:

Holly said...

You were the first to accuse me of spreading misinformation. The linked post explains why I did not. You are invited to respond.