Last spring in New Orleans I met a D.C. lobbyist who had read my piece on John McCain's lack of a visit to New Orleans aside from his private fund-raisers, and we talked about how shortly after that McCain flew down and walked through the 9th Ward. I joked that maybe McCain's staffers were taking direction from the Huffington Post, and the lobbyist answered, "Actually they have to. It's the only way to get out in front of the news cycle as it breaks."
Politico just echoed this, quoting Bryan Rogers who had been McCain's spokesman saying, "HuffPo and [Talking Points Memo] really are the assignment editors for many in the Washington press corps -- particularly the cables. That's not just a Republican hack saying it -- that's speaking as a press guy fielding calls and e-mails daily from the MSM that start with, 'Did you see this thing on Huffington Post?' They were effective and they wasted a lot of our time."
You're welcome. Oil of Delay, McCain Cancels Louisiana Trip after Barge Spill described the 1/2 million gallon oil spill that kept McCain from visiting v.p. contender Bobby Jindal on an oil rig, and Rocky Road: Time Defends McCain's New Orleans Gaffe covered McCain's 'tear it down or whatever' reference to the 9th Ward and the Time reporter who called foul because apparently you can't quote someone on an ice cream run. Ickies' Breakey Heart as the Fight Winds Down called the race for Barack Obama while Hillary Clinton's surrogates wrangled over the final delegates. Clinton's seizing on Mayhill Fowler's Guns, God and Religion Obama post (and its 6,000 comments) is an infamous example of the Internet driving campaigns. Candidate responses were the gifts that kept on giving, and I was tempted to float a test balloon to see if advisers were actually charting their course with punditry. The test? Whether John McCain would rock a full-on Will Ferrell style perm.
First headline: "Why Does McCain Refuse to Get a Perm?"
Followup stories would have included:
"John McCain Still Spurning Perm: Affront to His Base?"
"V.P. Pick Palin: Pro Perm or Lock Blocker?"
"Beltway Beauticians Ponder: Is McCain Curl-Worthy?"
"Clowns Weigh In on Curlgate"
"Mainstream Media Scoops Up Permanent Campaign"
We'll never know if Rogers could have talked his candidate into curly locks, but to quote Hemingway, isn't it pretty to think so? The McCains are a web savvy family - Megan McCain is taking on Ann Coulter through the Daily Beast and Cindy could still mix it up with Whoopi Goldberg on Wowowow if they're into Cindy's musings.
But Huffington Post remains the golden mean with 8.8 million readers in April alone. Politico confirms that the right wing is now jumping through whatever flaming hoops it can for exposure here since RedState's approach no longer plays in Peoria.
Speaking of which, have you gotten a good look at Republican Congressman and Huffington blogger Aaron Schock's hair lately? It's like he thinks he's too cool for curls.