Adam Curry and John Welch ask the hard questions of me

I’m listening to Adam Curry’s podcast today and he just asked “why the secrecy before I went with Edwards?” He also asked whether bloggers would be able to ask the tough questions? Also over on John Welch’s blog he attacked me for not reporting anything substantive.
They asked me to not write about the campaign’s announcement before I got on the bus. Why not? They wanted a big bang, just like Steve Jobs wants when he keeps everything secret until he’ll announce stuff at MacWorld.

Regarding asking the tough questions. I don’t think that’s a problem with the campaigns. I watched Edwards — over the span of three days — get asked hundreds of questions, including on what he’d do in Iraq, what he’d do regarding gay marriage, how he’d get Americans to conserve energy, and all that.

I realized within a few minutes of arriving at that house in New Orleans that I was simply not going to add any additional value over the mainstream press in reporting what he said. Come on, on that front lawn was more than a million dollars of equipment. Bloggers are supposed to compete with that? No way, no how.

So, what did I do? I just started listening. I got to know his staff instead of trying to ask a question that’d get Edwards angry or give me an answer that he wouldn’t give Matt Lauer on the Today Show.

The other thing, John, is you totally miss what I’m there to do. I’m not there to be a news source. I was there to study how campaigns are using technology. I will go to Newt Gingrich’s campaign stops, if he asks me along to study that.

Was I used by the campaign? Absolutely. I was there to give a different look at the campaign than the Washington Post or CNN could give. They wanted to be the first campaign to reach out to the social media industry. They are using more social media than any other campaign so far. Go ahead and visit Hillary’s site. Or Barack’s. Or Newt’s. Or any of the others. No one else has a Facebook site, a MySpace page, a blog, a video blog team. I haven’t seen the others do live blogging like was done over on Daily Kos this week.

Over the next week I’ll get up my own interviews and you’ll see the video I captured. I’m not that fast, but then, I don’t see my job to compete with CNN in speed. There’s no way bloggers are going to be able to do that.

There’s no way I was going to be able to give you more depth than Dan Balz, reporter for the Washington Post. He’s been covering politics since when I was in middle school. I needed a few days just to get up to speed on the political system.

Let’s go at this another way. What do you wish I would have reported? What do you want to know from me now about my experiences, and what I heard?

Keep in mind, I have lots of stuff to get up for you to watch/listen to, including recordings of two blogger meetings where groups of z-list bloggers asked him pretty good questions, I thought, and my own interview with him.

One thing about access: Just because you get access doesn’t mean you get anything unique that other people aren’t already reporting on. When he’s on the plane he discussed mundane things with his staff. His staff would give him feedback about what was being discussed on blogs and forums. They talked about questions he could have answered a little better, or impressions of the day. Pretty boring stuff. Do you really want me to get boring? I could tell you he likes Diet Sunkist. Does that really help the dialog here?

Or, does it matter that some of his campaign staff has worked on eight Presidential campaigns and they think he’s the nicest guy they’ve worked for so far? If I reported stuff like that, you’d all call me a shill anyway. Or, how about does it matter that he knows how to use a Blackberry? I mean, how mundane do you want me to get?

Anyway, just some thoughts from your favorite shill blogger. ;-)

UPDATE: Shel Israel wrote a nice post about what I was there to do.

I notice that Ryan Montoya, the Edwards’ staffer who invited me on the bus, is watching the blogs too.

Michael Markman has the best comment: “It won’t matter whether Scoble is for or against Edwards—or if Scoble’s readers can figure that out. Edwards success or failure is not in Scoble’s hands. It’s totally up to John Edwards.”

69 thoughts on “Adam Curry and John Welch ask the hard questions of me

  1. See Robert? THAT is what I was talking about. You don’t have to be a “hard – hitting” reporter to provide useful information. You just have to talk about what you see. You’re decent at human interaction observations, so talk about that. You’d be amazed at how much useful information you pick up just by watching someone like Edwards in their daily interaction with their staff.

    By “Karl” i meant less of a sanity checker, and more of the person who directly handles the strategy/tactical details for Edwards.

    Edwards’ “comfort level” with social media is much less important than how it is used by his campaign and his people, and things like how he interacts with his people are important details. They give insight into his thought processes in ways that even direct answers to questions won’t.

    When you watch him take “hard” questions, does he seem to have a pat answer ready, or does he risk giving it some thought and coming up with an answer that may be less planned/more ‘honest’, but possibly shove his foot in his mouth?

    Political campaigns are, like the original use of ‘campaign’, battles. Insight into the minds of the leaders of a campaign tells you more about their chances of winning than anything else.

  2. See Robert? THAT is what I was talking about. You don’t have to be a “hard – hitting” reporter to provide useful information. You just have to talk about what you see. You’re decent at human interaction observations, so talk about that. You’d be amazed at how much useful information you pick up just by watching someone like Edwards in their daily interaction with their staff.

    By “Karl” i meant less of a sanity checker, and more of the person who directly handles the strategy/tactical details for Edwards.

    Edwards’ “comfort level” with social media is much less important than how it is used by his campaign and his people, and things like how he interacts with his people are important details. They give insight into his thought processes in ways that even direct answers to questions won’t.

    When you watch him take “hard” questions, does he seem to have a pat answer ready, or does he risk giving it some thought and coming up with an answer that may be less planned/more ‘honest’, but possibly shove his foot in his mouth?

    Political campaigns are, like the original use of ‘campaign’, battles. Insight into the minds of the leaders of a campaign tells you more about their chances of winning than anything else.

  3. >In 2004 less than 20% of the registered voters got their info from the internet.

    Yup. That number will probably be double that this time around. But that still means 60% will get their info somewhere else.

    The thing you aren’t considering is that “somewhere else” is watching the Internet. Ideas and language discussed on the blogs are not only leaking back into talks the candidate himself or herself will do, but are being incorporated into news reports too. All the journalists I met on the trail said they read blogs at least once in a while.

  4. >In 2004 less than 20% of the registered voters got their info from the internet.

    Yup. That number will probably be double that this time around. But that still means 60% will get their info somewhere else.

    The thing you aren’t considering is that “somewhere else” is watching the Internet. Ideas and language discussed on the blogs are not only leaking back into talks the candidate himself or herself will do, but are being incorporated into news reports too. All the journalists I met on the trail said they read blogs at least once in a while.

  5. John:

    >>So who did you see as being his “Karl”?

    Hmmm, someone who tells him he’s full of it? I didn’t spend enough time with him to figure out if there’s one person in that role. I’m sure his wife would call him on things, but she wasn’t along. She holds no punches and he obviously respects her a lot.

    There are dozens of people who he’ll stop to have conversations with. One, though, that brings both good and bad to him is Matt Gross, who is the guy charged with online interactions — I saw him bringing both the good and bad to Edwards. He is the one with the back to the camera in this picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/35034363287@N01/ — he follows tons of blogs and forums and was constantly feeding info to Edwards. Actually, there’s a network of “Matt’s” around the country, I learned, that send him stuff and give him feedback. He also has many trusted advisors, including David Bonior, who was along on one of the campaign stops http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_E._Bonior

    Not who’s who on the org chart, but who instantly gets Edwards’ attention no matter what they have to say.

    There are dozens of people in that role. Sr. Advisor Jonathan Prince is probably top at that list. Trip Director Sam Myers and press liasion Jennifer Palmieri also get instant attention if they want it.

    >Was his wife there. If so, what kind of role is she playing, Nancy, Rosalyn, Hilary, or Laura?

    Nope, but she appeared with him on TV this morning. I missed that, though, so don’t have enough data to answer this well.

  6. John:

    >>So who did you see as being his “Karl”?

    Hmmm, someone who tells him he’s full of it? I didn’t spend enough time with him to figure out if there’s one person in that role. I’m sure his wife would call him on things, but she wasn’t along. She holds no punches and he obviously respects her a lot.

    There are dozens of people who he’ll stop to have conversations with. One, though, that brings both good and bad to him is Matt Gross, who is the guy charged with online interactions — I saw him bringing both the good and bad to Edwards. He is the one with the back to the camera in this picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/35034363287@N01/ — he follows tons of blogs and forums and was constantly feeding info to Edwards. Actually, there’s a network of “Matt’s” around the country, I learned, that send him stuff and give him feedback. He also has many trusted advisors, including David Bonior, who was along on one of the campaign stops http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_E._Bonior

    Not who’s who on the org chart, but who instantly gets Edwards’ attention no matter what they have to say.

    There are dozens of people in that role. Sr. Advisor Jonathan Prince is probably top at that list. Trip Director Sam Myers and press liasion Jennifer Palmieri also get instant attention if they want it.

    >Was his wife there. If so, what kind of role is she playing, Nancy, Rosalyn, Hilary, or Laura?

    Nope, but she appeared with him on TV this morning. I missed that, though, so don’t have enough data to answer this well.

  7. What does his staff tell him? They sit next to him with computers and Blackberries and show him the latest stuff from press reports around the world, as well as blogs, forums, and other emails sent in from people. He also reads his own stuff. He types slowly, he says, so it’s frustrating for him to really blog, but he absorbs a lot of information.

    His staff tells him both the good and the bad. What you’re seeing on his blog reflects him and his interests and not just his staff.

    I didn’t see any filtering, other than they usually only have limited time. So, they cover the biggest issues. It’s pretty easy while on the road to see what the biggest issues are. The same questions about health care and education and Iraq and gay marriage came up in almost every city and every audience cheered loudly his answers on those.

    Yes, he goes and looks at his own information. It’s pretty clear he’s a voracious reader and also talks with tons of people.

    So, you got any other questions, or you just gonna keep calling me names? I guess you learned that from Rush Limbaugh. Make you feel better?

    Oh lord, now you’re degenerating into WhinyScoble mode. Suck it up princess, you like being the face of blogging, deal, or go back to selling cameras.

    Those few paragraphs you typed in whiny “I’LL SHOW YOU MODE” have more substance and real value than every post you did from the road. I learned more about how Edwards interacts with his staff, his management and leadership style than in all the other crap you posted combined. So who did you see as being his “Karl”? Not who’s who on the org chart, but who instantly gets Edwards’ attention no matter what they have to say. Was his wife there. If so, what kind of role is she playing, Nancy, Rosalyn, Hilary, or Laura?

    You have this blindness wherein you think that only hard-hitting questions matter. If this man becomes president, EVERYTHING about him matters, and by NOT being in his face all the time, you had a chance to quietly observe him as part of the woodwork. Write about THAT. Screw taping him, as soon as the record light comes on, he’s on. It’s when he’s off that shows us who he is. Dude, so what if they wanted you to play a role? Does that mean you’re incapable of doing anything but what you’re told? I know you were raised that way, but just stop for a minute, you might learn something new.

    I talked with several voters in Iowa about why they thought Dean didn’t win there. They told me they simply didn’t like him. No amount of blogging is gonna change that.

    I’ll agree with LayZ here…blogging is not nearly as important as you think it is other than the message it conveys. If blogging does nothing more than circle-jerk about how important blogging is, then it’s noise, and should be left alone to die out.

    When Bloggers stop mentioning how important blogging is in every post, then they’ll be ready to communicate something worth listening to. For now, it’s just insecure ego-stroking.

  8. What does his staff tell him? They sit next to him with computers and Blackberries and show him the latest stuff from press reports around the world, as well as blogs, forums, and other emails sent in from people. He also reads his own stuff. He types slowly, he says, so it’s frustrating for him to really blog, but he absorbs a lot of information.

    His staff tells him both the good and the bad. What you’re seeing on his blog reflects him and his interests and not just his staff.

    I didn’t see any filtering, other than they usually only have limited time. So, they cover the biggest issues. It’s pretty easy while on the road to see what the biggest issues are. The same questions about health care and education and Iraq and gay marriage came up in almost every city and every audience cheered loudly his answers on those.

    Yes, he goes and looks at his own information. It’s pretty clear he’s a voracious reader and also talks with tons of people.

    So, you got any other questions, or you just gonna keep calling me names? I guess you learned that from Rush Limbaugh. Make you feel better?

    Oh lord, now you’re degenerating into WhinyScoble mode. Suck it up princess, you like being the face of blogging, deal, or go back to selling cameras.

    Those few paragraphs you typed in whiny “I’LL SHOW YOU MODE” have more substance and real value than every post you did from the road. I learned more about how Edwards interacts with his staff, his management and leadership style than in all the other crap you posted combined. So who did you see as being his “Karl”? Not who’s who on the org chart, but who instantly gets Edwards’ attention no matter what they have to say. Was his wife there. If so, what kind of role is she playing, Nancy, Rosalyn, Hilary, or Laura?

    You have this blindness wherein you think that only hard-hitting questions matter. If this man becomes president, EVERYTHING about him matters, and by NOT being in his face all the time, you had a chance to quietly observe him as part of the woodwork. Write about THAT. Screw taping him, as soon as the record light comes on, he’s on. It’s when he’s off that shows us who he is. Dude, so what if they wanted you to play a role? Does that mean you’re incapable of doing anything but what you’re told? I know you were raised that way, but just stop for a minute, you might learn something new.

    I talked with several voters in Iowa about why they thought Dean didn’t win there. They told me they simply didn’t like him. No amount of blogging is gonna change that.

    I’ll agree with LayZ here…blogging is not nearly as important as you think it is other than the message it conveys. If blogging does nothing more than circle-jerk about how important blogging is, then it’s noise, and should be left alone to die out.

    When Bloggers stop mentioning how important blogging is in every post, then they’ll be ready to communicate something worth listening to. For now, it’s just insecure ego-stroking.

  9. @28. There’s no denying that there are a considerable number of political junkies that hang out in all the well know political blogs and get a lot of their information about candidates there. And to be anecdotal examples are to be found everywhere. But I’m of the opinion that percentage is quite small when compared to the majority of the electorate. Is the information landscape changing? Obviously the answer is yes. But, I don’t think its changing enough to impact the larger electorate.

    In 2004 less than 20% of the registered voters got their info from the internet. And only 27% of the people that went online to get their political information said it made them decide to vote for or against a particular candidate. Only 11% of people the even use the internet engaged directly with candidates on line in 2004.

    But, here’s the bad news for many of you: more on line political news consumers voted for Bush than for Kerry in 2004. D’oh!

    @29. I’m surprised it took this long to accuse Scoble’s critics of jealousy. It’s not jealousy. It’s merely point out to Scoble the HUGE opportunity he sqaundered. And I’m also amazed (though not surprised) he seemed incapable of processing and documenting what he was seeing as he was seeing it. By his own admission his pea-brain is going to be taking some time to spit out what it saw.

    Will that climb in 2008? Likely. Will it be a tipping point? Unlikely. This is why I say we are still 2-3 elections away from blogging having a significant impact

  10. @28. There’s no denying that there are a considerable number of political junkies that hang out in all the well know political blogs and get a lot of their information about candidates there. And to be anecdotal examples are to be found everywhere. But I’m of the opinion that percentage is quite small when compared to the majority of the electorate. Is the information landscape changing? Obviously the answer is yes. But, I don’t think its changing enough to impact the larger electorate.

    In 2004 less than 20% of the registered voters got their info from the internet. And only 27% of the people that went online to get their political information said it made them decide to vote for or against a particular candidate. Only 11% of people the even use the internet engaged directly with candidates on line in 2004.

    But, here’s the bad news for many of you: more on line political news consumers voted for Bush than for Kerry in 2004. D’oh!

    @29. I’m surprised it took this long to accuse Scoble’s critics of jealousy. It’s not jealousy. It’s merely point out to Scoble the HUGE opportunity he sqaundered. And I’m also amazed (though not surprised) he seemed incapable of processing and documenting what he was seeing as he was seeing it. By his own admission his pea-brain is going to be taking some time to spit out what it saw.

    Will that climb in 2008? Likely. Will it be a tipping point? Unlikely. This is why I say we are still 2-3 elections away from blogging having a significant impact

  11. Rocketboom was there because we were interested in enabling John Edwards to have control over the media himself, just like all of us. See more about this here: http://www.dembot.com/010661.html

    Given the opportunity to turn the camera on himself, able to say anything at all, what does he want to say?

    This will be the first election where it will be possible to use the powerful medium of video (and all other mediums for that matter) in full.

    So that’s one way.

    I also thought Robert’s coverage was ideal because you knew going into it that he was there to give his own perspective, not John Edwards and it was what it was; Scobleized.

    It sounds like we both came to the same conclusion: it’s cool John Edwards has opened the doors for all to see himself however they like, his way and theirs.

  12. Rocketboom was there because we were interested in enabling John Edwards to have control over the media himself, just like all of us. See more about this here: http://www.dembot.com/010661.html

    Given the opportunity to turn the camera on himself, able to say anything at all, what does he want to say?

    This will be the first election where it will be possible to use the powerful medium of video (and all other mediums for that matter) in full.

    So that’s one way.

    I also thought Robert’s coverage was ideal because you knew going into it that he was there to give his own perspective, not John Edwards and it was what it was; Scobleized.

    It sounds like we both came to the same conclusion: it’s cool John Edwards has opened the doors for all to see himself however they like, his way and theirs.

  13. It is amazing how many jealous people, who would have love to see the campaign from your perspective, are willing to call you a shill. Especially when you are attempting to show it to them through your eyes.

    Good for you Robert! I look forward to the video.

  14. It is amazing how many jealous people, who would have love to see the campaign from your perspective, are willing to call you a shill. Especially when you are attempting to show it to them through your eyes.

    Good for you Robert! I look forward to the video.

  15. #25: a lot of the people who showed up at the rallies say they read blogs, particularly political ones like Daily Kos. It’s not the blogs that will affect the election, but they are part of a much more efficient word-of-mouth network that WILL affect what’s going on.

    I found it really interesting that when I talked with the taxi driver in New Orleans — a guy you wouldn’t expect to be very astute about tech or politics — he told me he hangs out on political blogs and knew the major stances of all the major Democratic candidates (Hillary, Barack, John). Will that matter in the general election this time around? I think so. Could he have gotten that info from any other source? Maybe, if he watches the Sunday political shows, but doubtful.

  16. #25: a lot of the people who showed up at the rallies say they read blogs, particularly political ones like Daily Kos. It’s not the blogs that will affect the election, but they are part of a much more efficient word-of-mouth network that WILL affect what’s going on.

    I found it really interesting that when I talked with the taxi driver in New Orleans — a guy you wouldn’t expect to be very astute about tech or politics — he told me he hangs out on political blogs and knew the major stances of all the major Democratic candidates (Hillary, Barack, John). Will that matter in the general election this time around? I think so. Could he have gotten that info from any other source? Maybe, if he watches the Sunday political shows, but doubtful.

  17. Adam: I got an exclusive interview on the plane between New Hampshire and Reno.

    I don’t think the Rocketboom thing was planned. If I had gotten into New Orleans earlier I probably would have gotten something too. They were forced to announce a day early, though, because a vendor turned on their Web site accidentally early.

  18. Adam: I got an exclusive interview on the plane between New Hampshire and Reno.

    I don’t think the Rocketboom thing was planned. If I had gotten into New Orleans earlier I probably would have gotten something too. They were forced to announce a day early, though, because a vendor turned on their Web site accidentally early.

  19. @22. At the end of the day Moulitsas was responsible for Dean’s presence on the web. Whatever the case, again this reinforces the point that no amount of blogging will help a candidate win an election.

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