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not gretchen bulova

I'm ok with this. If bloggers want to play the game, they shoule begin to expect this stuff.

Dannyboy

I with NGB. As long as nobody's privacy rights were violated, then it's fair game. Bloggers want to play with the big boys? Okay, fine. But they can't be upset when stuff like this happens.

I have no problem with what Webb's people did as long as nobody's rights were violated.

Kevin

Queen Riley, from the Kingdom of Drama, always takes the overdramatic route. Even if it turns out that he wasn't on the list, he'll still place himself on a cross for the world to see.

Not Larry Sabato

Kevin, agreed. I can't believe this guy is a lobbyist by day...

(PS: I can't make the meeting tonight, sorry about that).

bwana

If you want to run with the big dogs, someone's gonna pee on you now adn again.

ngb adn dboy above have it right...

ZB

Many have suggested that Webb's campaign, while ultimately successful, could have been managed better. I would think that knowing that the campaign compiled information and researched the individuals likely to potentially say critical things of their candidate or their campaign indicates that they were doing EXACTLY THEIR JOB. If that is worth toupees, something is wrong.

If, say, an anoymous blogger nicknamed "Not Bill Euille" has frequently bashed Democratic candidates for their support of immigration reform -- would it not be only appropriate for the campaign to look into whether "Not Bill Euille" has any paid undocumented bloggers on his or her staff? Shouldn't they look into whether "Not Bill Euille" is being paid by the Allen campaign and not disclosing that fact? Shouldn't they know, before "NBE" breaks a story that Jim Webb once ate at a Quizno's Restaurant whether said blogger works at the rival Blimpee's across the street?

What a dumb ex-staffer at the DSCC did to Steele was illegal and wrong. Doing basic opposition research on all potentil opponents is not.

And why is no one asking Shaun Kenney whether the Kenney campaign did any research on Bobby Orrock. If so, isn't THAT relevent to our ability to evaluate HIS credibility on this matter? (Either yes, which would incicate he is a hypocrite or no, which would indicate that he was a very poor candidate).

michael

Yeah, it doesn't strike me as unethical. But it does show how wary campaigns are of us unreliables out here on the internets.

It's possible -- even likely -- that Webb really respects the blogs, but these recent revelations contribute significantly to assumptions that the rest of his campaign just wanted to squeeze them for all the mileage they could get -- and they got a lot.

I think we can/should expect this in the future, although I doubt it'll matter. Bloggers will really only hurt candidates on the blogosphere, where smears like the ones they were prepping for won't do them any good at all. The tactics will be clear as day, and the stuff that would tarnish a politician by giving the media a "scandal" to talk about won't make blog-readers stop reading their favorite bloggers -- unless, of course, you can find a blog that actually cares about the appearance of "scandal" ...

So stupid - I'm sure that the Webb campaign simply compiled oppo research on anti-Webb bloggers affiliated with the Allen camp.

Which, I'm hearing, is exactly what the Allen campaign did as well to Lowell, Josh, and others.

This is standard for campaigns - research the background of their opponents and their staff/allies. Strange that such an astute political guru like Ben thinks this is some sort of new development.

Kevin

"(PS: I can't make the meeting tonight, sorry about that)."

Neither can I. I've taken another position in an organization that is non-partisan and therefore would look bad if I went. I can tell you more offline.

MC

Anon 8:48,

Researching some of the RK guys and Jon Henke might not be as bad becasue they were paid parts of the campaign.

But I do have some problem with them doing background checks on average citizens. So to open your mouth an express a political opinion suddenly means "your in the game" and should expect to be trashed? With standards like that, NOBODY is going to want to say anything in the public sphere. There is a clear line between private citizens adovcating a political position and paid staff members and associates doing it. I'm not freaking out like Jim Riley is, and I don't think the law was broken or anything like that. But should private citizens expect their dirty laundry to be aired if they express their opinions in a public forum? I'm just not comfortable with that.

phriendlyjaime

That's exactly what I said last night, yet you told me I was nuts...

phriendlyjaime

Well, at least my file (which I am sure there wasn't one) is entertaining. I've gotten too crazy before, too many times.

Here's my thing; I totally understand profiling people you pay. I DON'T understand NOR DO I CONDONE profiling volunteers. They should be thanked instead.

Posted by: phriendlyjaime | December 13, 2006 at 09:52 PM

not gretchen bulova

MC - there is a difference between someone who blogs part time vs. a blog that breaks stories about people's past and their missteps like NLS and a third category for people like Riley who want to be like NLS.

If they were researching someone like Alice Marshall it would be a waste of time, but people like NLS and TC and Shaun like to break stories and get inside info so you have to protect yourself

Not Jack Herrity

Doing oppo research on the opposing candidate and his/her paid staff is a fact of life. Doing oppo research on a bunch of bloggers is a little shadier. You see, unpaid bloggers, like campaign volunteers or anyone else with an opinion, are part of the public discourse. I'm sure many of the private citizens who contribute here would take great pause if they knew they were being researched by political campaigns. It really speaks to the level campaigns have sunk in recent years. And that's true whether the Webb people did it or the Allen people did it.

NJH

Alice Marshall

This all just speculation. If the Webb campaign really did such a thing there would be some indication of that on their FEC form under "dispersal's."

I'm too lazy to look, but those forms are all online at FEC.gov.

There's a difference between (1)unpaid, unaffiliated bloggers and (2) unpaid, affiliated bloggers. I think the latter - if they are getting fed info from the campaign and are basically part of the campaign media operations - have a much lower expectation of privacy.

It's a grey area for sure - it depends on how ingrained that unpaid affiliated blogger is. Is that blogger on his own, occasionally getting a nut of info here or there, or is that blogger basically an unpaid staffer? The closer you get to second description, the less concern we should have.

Murky stuff - it all depends on who we're talking about.

phriendlyjaime

Well, I know that one person on that short list definitely had a falling out with the campaign, so this all matches up with a conspiracy to attack if needed. That being said, I still have no idea what the hell is going on. But I DEFINITELY want to see all of the files involved, and if anyone else is interested, we should have a party and a book reading.

Henke was basically an Allen operative.

I'm not concerned about doing background on your own staff (Lowell).

I'd be concerned about doing oppo on Ben and J.C.

Another explanation re files on the Dems would be to simply know who they could and could not affiliate with. If a Dem blogger had a skeleton in the closet, then the Webb camp - that had an aggressive and novel blogger strategy - might want to do a minor background check to weed out any bloggers with skeletons that Allen would be able to out (and then bash Webb with that skeleton).

For example, if the campaign wanted to affiliate with a pro-Webb site/blogger, they'd want to make sure that blogger wasn't a sex offender or something like that.

If this had been done by Allen, imagine the outcry. Love the hypocrisy here.

Bubby

Is there a "Bubby File"? 'Cause if there is, send it on. I'm having trouble remembering the '70's and I'm damn sure some really good stuff happened.

phriendlyjaime

anon 10:04-I don't think anyone is saying that this WASN'T done by Allen. And, I would say that the opinions are pretty evenly split between those angered and those not.

I'd like to know what happened....a lot of people either dropped off the face of the campaign after the primary (specifically JC) and now even more after the election (lowell and Josh).

Something must have happened.

Thomas Paine Patriot

If people decide to place themselves in the public eye and public discourse by blogging, they must expect to be subject to the same rules as the politicians and others they are blogging about.

In the rough and tumble and hyperbolic world of the blogosphere, bloggers often launch intense and nasty attacks on candidates and others (like party officials who also volunteer their time).

Why would bloggers expect to be exempt from the same kinds of research and attack politics that they themselves practice?

Bloggers become public figures when they establish a blog or even comment on a blog, particularly when their comments are over-the-top and, in some cases, only half-truths or worse.

There is at least one case where a blogger has been successfully sued for more than $50,000 in damages.

Bloggers can expect more scrutiny in the future as the role of blogging grows in the political process. The fact of the matter is that anyone has a right to investigate them (or anyone else) to the fullest, as long as the information is not obtained illegally or under false pretenses.

God knows, bloggers have certainly hurt innocent people and damaged the reputations of others. Bloggers can't expect to be treated any different than the subjects of their blog diaries.

The Richmond Democrat

I don't know about "outcry," but I am interested in getting to the bottom of this story.

So, let's see, now we're down to four . . . that would make us "The Vanden Berg Four."

I'm Not Emeril

If people decide to place themselves in the public eye and public discourse by writing letters to the editor, they must expect to be subject to the same rules as the politicians and others they are writing letters to the editor about.
In the rough and tumble and hyperbolic world of the world of LTE writing, LTE writers often launch intense and nasty attacks on candidates and others (like party officials who also volunteer their time).
Why would LTE writers expect to be exempt from the same kinds of research and attack politics that they themselves practice?
LTE writers become public figures when they send in their comments to the paper, particularly when their comments are over-the-top and, in some cases, only half-truths or worse.
LTE writers can expect more scrutiny in the future as the role of writing letters to the editor grows in the political process. The fact of the matter is that anyone has a right to investigate them (or anyone else) to the fullest, as long as the information is not obtained illegally or under false pretenses.
God knows, LTE writers have certainly hurt innocent people and damaged the reputations of others. LTE writers can't expect to be treated any different than the subjects of their letters.

Sounds a little different when you replace bloggers with a phrase more closely resembling the real people they are, doesn't it?

Not Larry Sabato

JC, I am not limiting to those 4, that's just who I have confirmed.

Alice Marshall

"If people decide to place themselves in the public eye and public discourse by blogging, they must expect to be subject to the same rules as the politicians and others they are blogging about."

Wrong. Any effort to compile a "shoot the messenger file" is dirty politics. It may not be illegal, but it is extremely dirty politics. Nothing like that has been done to supporters of candidates since Harry Bryd Jr. was driven from the party. Candidates and elected officials are one thing, supporters are off limits.

But so far we only have rumor, we have no evidence that anything like this occured. Time enough to worry about this when, and if, proof emerges.

Delta Mike

My first instinct would be to write off Josh and Lowell to standard political vetting. If they're going to be on paid staff in some sort of public way, I want to know what kind of skeletons are in their closet. (Does Josh like to eat ice cream in his underwear? Exclusive at 5!)

The others like you NLS and the Allen bloggers is sketchier, but I guess understandable, especially in a race where bloggers were so high profile. While it would have been nicer if they told you, I guess it is now lesson learned. For future cycles and campaigns, expect to have oppo research done on you.

Kind of sucks aye?

Doug

I want to know what Bubby did in the 70s too.

So, again, where was the hit piece that came out about Ben after one of these postings:

Webb is a Plagiarist
Webb yelled racial insults in Watts
Webb condoned pedophilia in his books

I can't find them. If this story is true- in that they compiled dirt to sling it, why wasn't NLS neck deep?

I agree with Alice and most everyone here.

Terry

"I'm ok with this. If bloggers want to play the game, they shoule begin to expect this stuff."

EXACTLY! I'm glad that someone gets it.

Bryan J. Scrafford

Like many of the previous comments expressed above, I believe it really does come down to what were in the reports and how the information was obtained. Although they do it in different degrees depending how much they are actually involved in the political scene, bloggers cannot escape the fact that they are putting out their interpretation, research, etc with the intention of informing and/or influencing their readers. That means that their writings could have an impact on the election and, therefore, shouldn’t be ignored by the various candidates.

As far as the bloggers who are not paid by a campaign, I can understand why the Webb campaign would want to look into a blogger’s history. Although this is sometime the farthest thing from the truth, a candidate’s opponent could potentially try to attack the candidate based upon what an independent blogger wrote. That being said, I also don’t see what’s wrong with letting bloggers know what’s in their file.

As bloggers, we spend our time attempting to report on what’s going on and hope to get that inside scoop. So why shouldn’t a campaign being able to look into what we’re doing in hopes of getting the inside scoop on us? Ultimately, doing so would allow them to make sure we are either a good place to give information or a person who should be avoided. As long as the information was LEGALLY obtained, then I don’t see anything wrong with it. Note that there is also a difference between gathering information and leaking it to the public. Although we don’t know what the exact intentions of the Webb campaign were, they never did leak actually leak the information.

Alice Marshall

"As bloggers, we spend our time attempting to report on what’s going on and hope to get that inside scoop. So why shouldn’t a campaign being able to look into what we’re doing in hopes of getting the inside scoop on us?"

Because that is known as shoot-the-messenger and it is extremely dirty. The purpose of such tactics is intimidation. It is wrong, profoundly wrong.

As yet we have no evidence that anything like that occurred.

Gerry

"If this list stays slanted to the Democrats, we can assume these reports were generated for potential retribution instead of proactive research."

So it would be ok if limited to people politically opposed to you?

What a convenient double standard.

Bubby

A good Marine will shake your hand, a smile on his face, a courteous word, and a plan to kill you.

Doug

Alice- I'm still with you on wanting to see if anything actually happened. I simply did not ever see a "shoot the messenger" come from the Webb campaign. I think you are saying the same thing.

Now, one part I would differ slightly: I think it is ok to get some information on bloggers if your intention is to protect yourself from swift boating vs. legitimate news. In other words, I think it is ok to defend yourself from someone simply telling lies about you, and I wouldn't call that shoot the messanger.

phriendlyjaime

I would like to hear more on what the affected bloggers/staffers think.

Alice Marshall

The way to protect yourself from smears is to instantly counter them, not try to smear the smearer. That's just shoot-the-messenger, trying to silence criticism by intimidation.

If someone is lying about you, just shoot down the lie. Don't try to smear the liar.

But we don't have any evidence that this occured, only rumor.

Doug

Hmm.. I read the updates Ben and I'm still not getting the knicker twisting. Ms. Van den Berg says no oppo research was done. Richmond Dem says it wouldn't have been the "campaign" anyway.

I love this blog and all, but would you care to put up some evidence on this, because I just don't get it. And, again, again, where are the hit pieces or one hit piece? I'm not saying they don't exist, but I can't find any and you must have one if you are digging into this further.

Bryan J. Scrafford

J.C Wilmore has now put an update up which said Jessica Vanden Burg told him that they "don't have any opposition research books on any people who blog."

Not Larry Sabato

I have multiple sources- that's crap.

phriendlyjaime

JC's write ep is great, and puts things into perspective. I especially appreciate this line: When you stop to think about it you can't help but realize how silly it is that someone would think that Lowell Feld, Josh Chernila, Ben Tribbett or J.C. Wilmore could be a threat to Jim Webb--a man we all idolized. The mere suggestion is an insult to us all.


Right on.

Doug

I do know that Jaime does oppo research on people who don't like OSU. And on toe suckers.

phriendlyjaime

Damn straight, Doug. The other night at the McEachin fundie, Don assured me that he thinks tOSU is a good team, and he enjoys watching both their football and basketball games.

So, I will volunteer my ass off for him. :)

Bryan J. Scrafford

PhriendlyJaime, all I have to say is:

Fight the team across the field
Show them Ohio's here,
Set the earth reverberating
With a mighty cheer,
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Hit them hard and see how they fall,
Never let that team get the ball,
Hail, hail, the gang's all here,
So let's win that old conference now.

Doug in Mount Vernon

Alice, I agree with you that it is dirty politics. Freedom of speech protects those who choose to speak out publicly on a campaign or issue. However, that same freedom of speech, unfortunately, protects scumbags' rights to behave badly (aka dirty politics).

The following quote from a previous message of yours made me laugh though:

"It may not be illegal, but it is extremely dirty politics. Nothing like that has been done to supporters of candidates since Harry Bryd Jr. was driven from the party."

You can't be referring to the Virginia Democratic Party!! Especially in Northern VA! Don't get me wrong, there are tons of incredibly good people involved in NoVA, but I've also seen behavior exactly like you describe (nasty, back-stabbing infighting) from some prominent party people.

Let's not create a utopian fantasy, just keepin' it real.

Doug in Mount Vernon

The Webb HQ was cleaned out a few weeks ago anyway, so I imagine that if theses oppo research books existed, I'm sure a shredder somewhere is momentarily going to ingest more of them than we ever will...

Doug in Mount Vernon

On the other hand, I can see that from a balanced perspective, sometimes a messenger deserves to be shot.....just sayin!

I agree it's dirty no matter what. But isn't there also a big difference between "oppo research" (usually intended to dredge up information embarassing of damaging to the subject) and doing a normal background check that simply assures associates that a person is not a criminal, or financially troubled, or just plain insane?

I.Publius

Bubby's hard-on for Jim Webb is becoming virtually palpable. You oughtta get that thing checked out, sparky.

Doug

Holy crap, our way down south evangelical is back. Pubs- you here just because of the free lunch offer?

Good luck with that one Ben, you may be eating with Jane.

I.Publius

Good idea. I'll just post non-stop for the next few hours until we hit the magic number. Thanks, Doug!

And what's with the "way down south" and "evangelical" tags? I'm neither.

If this is true - Where is exactly is that line in the sand with regard to researching blog commenters? Letter to the editor writers? Door-to-door volunteers? All are actively speaking/writing in favor of a candidate while advocating their positions and "disparaging" the opponent.

Nell

Alice has said the most important thing here:

As yet we have no evidence that anything like that occurred.

Until there is such evidence produced, I'm going to believe Jessica Vandenberg's denial, and to consider that there is no story here. Zero toupees.

MRC

This is very interesting. I am not suprised to see this. As far as lawsuits with bloggers goes, I have a site http://www.webloglaw.blogspot.com in which I am looking at the legal aspects of blogging. I have not posted in a while, but I will be again soon. What I have posted is just a state of the law in different jurisdictions. It is very much a developing area. I invite you to check it out as you do your research on this topic.

Publius

Bloggers beware: Webb is out to get us all on the web.

All joking aside this is bad.

charles

"Jim Webb--a man we all idolized."

That's probably the saddest thing I've read here.

The guy was a politician, and an opportunist, which is probably redundant. I certainly never idolized Allen.

The reason nobody could "do" anything to Webb was that the press, which is in charge (not bloggers) made a decision to publish ever last little rumor about Allen, and do so repeatedly, but only grudgingly and dismissively mention things negative to Webb, usually while explaining why in fact Webb was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

With all the posters here pushing the story that Allen might have "spit" on his wife, you don't think the story of Webb and his first two wives, or other stories from his past, would have been of no interest?

But worse is how most people here seem not to be concerned with the idea that a candidate for public office would want to destroy another person's career, family, or life simply keep facts from getting into the public.

My employee might do a background check on me -- but not so that if I say something that embarasses them, they could leak it to the press.

Of course, most of you are democrats. Bill Clinton leaked private information from background checks about people who told the truth about him, and democrats were more than happy with that abuse of privacy.

Lind Tripp never lied about Clinton. You may disagree with what she did, how she abused her relationship with Monica, but she didn't LIE about Monica or about what was on the tapes.

But somehow we all now know about her government employment history, her evaluations, her job applications, all sorts of stuff that generally would be private.

And she wasn't a public figure, she wasn't running for office.

Some have made the argument that if a person complains about a candidate being soft on illegal immigrants, it would be good for the candidate to show that the person hired illegal immigrants.

Well, not only would that be bad, that would be amazingly hypocritical. OF course the private person making the attack on the candidate would be a hypocrit, but I'm not voting for that person. But the candidate who WAS soft on illegal immigrants would be attacking a private citizen for doing something the candidate supports, all in the hopes to make people DISBELIEVE the truth about the candidate's position on illegal immigrants.

I don't know why I'm bothering, forget that it's democrat or republican. Has the political arena become so jaded that only Alice seems to be with me on this?

BTW, I agree with Alice that we shouldn't look to lynch anyone until we are certain of the charges. But I don't think its wrong to discuss the charges, especially when so many people need to be educated on what in my generation was simply courtesy and manners.

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