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The Marcotte-Edwards Non-Scandal

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Danny Glover of Technology Daily, who also writes the Beltway Blogroll for National Journal, has a post up claiming to have found the "First Blog Scandal of Campaign 2008," but in my humble opinion it's much ado about nothing.

The John Edwards campaign has hired Amanda Marcotte, formerly of the blog Pandagon, to be the campaign's blogmaster (-mistress?) and some rightwing blogs are making a stink over some pungent posts Marcotte has written in the past about various issues, including the Duke rape case. They're claiming that Marcotte has deleted those posts to cover-up her own past, but the truth is the Pandagon site has had server problems and also lost a treasured trove of old posts during an upgrade to a new blogging platform.

Glover, who last made waves for an over-the-top op-ed charticle for the New York Times about bloggers supposedly selling out their principles when they go to work for campaigns (which I chastised him for here, and he admitted overdoing here), starts his inflammatory post about Marcotte saying that she "apparently deleted" an offending post about the rape case and that her "attempts to airbrush her past are fast becoming a black-eye for Edwards." Wow, sounds like a cover-up, and we all know the cover-up is worse than the crime!

But if you read to the end, Glover ends that post with an update admitting that various missing posts from the Pandagon site "were just the result of technology problems."

I'm used to seeing partisan sites on the right hyping stuff like this. But reporters shouldn't fall so easily for it. (Reminds me of how the mainstream press fell for the "bloggers hacked Lieberman website" story last summer.) Glover seems like a nice guy who's trying hard to break news, but now this is two strikes Danny. (Hat tip to Ezra Klein for a more detailed deconstruction.) Perhaps it's time to pull the whole post? Or is this now a story about a non-story and thus deserving of even more attention? (I hear a reporter from Time is sniffing around...)

All that said, the same way political operatives and gullible or clueless or busy reporters have played "gotcha" over non-stories like finding anti-semitic remarks in someone's comment thread being proof that their blog is anti-semitic, they seem to now want to play "gotcha" over whether something someone said in the past when they were a free citizen of America exercising their free speech and under the employ of no campaign is now the equivalent of an endorsement of that specific speech by a presidential candidate.

If we adopt this standard, then the internet is just going to be a tool for an even tighter straight-jacketing of politics, where no one who ever imagines they might go into politics some time in their life will be willing to ever take a position on anything controversial for fear of damaging their political viability. Yuck! Who wants to live in that world?

Why can't we instead judge the candidates by what they say and do, and what their actual staff says and does on their behalf? If Marcotte says or does something outrageous as Edwards' blogmaster, then that's a story, maybe even a scandal. But in the age of blogging and MySpace and the Wayback Machine, if we don't collectively decide to cut ourselves some slack, we're going to choke on this latest incarnation of political correctness run amok. [cross-posted from Personal Democracy Forum]

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