John Edwards under siege cause of blog misteps

The political bloggers are working overtime (see Memeorandum’s coverage) because of John Edwards’ missteps in hiring bloggers for his campaign.

I link to this for a couple of reasons.

1) I was on his plane six weeks ago.
2) The lessons here for corporate blog teams are many.

Some lessons here:

1) Hire people who the community will defend.
2) If you want a job as a blogger for a political organization, or a business, you better worry about all those “out there” posts you made.
3) Firing people just makes the problem worse. If you hire them, defend them cause it’s your own idiocy and lack of due diligence that got you here.
4) I’d be more transparent about moves regarding bloggers than either Edwards or, say, Microsoft was when it sent out review laptops to bloggers. Transparency — before a decision is made — will help the community vet moves like these.

What would I do now?

Take the heat and overcommunicate. The more insular the campaign appears the more people will get turned off. It’s time for John Edwards to show up on Daily Kos and take his lumps.

UPDATE: Dave Winer wonders when the New York Times will call off its war on bloggers.

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. So is the problem the lack of transparency or the comments that what the bloggers both said that should have gotten them fired?
    I would hope the comments that both of the bloggers made would be enough to not have them blog for someone trying to run for president.

  2. So is the problem the lack of transparency or the comments that what the bloggers both said that should have gotten them fired?
    I would hope the comments that both of the bloggers made would be enough to not have them blog for someone trying to run for president.

  3. Jonathan: the problem is that the campaign screwed up by hiring people who made statements that would hurt the campaign. Transparency MIGHT have helped keep that from happening.

  4. Jonathan: the problem is that the campaign screwed up by hiring people who made statements that would hurt the campaign. Transparency MIGHT have helped keep that from happening.

  5. And to the edwards kerfuffle, the people who are offended are professional offendees.

    Nothing a Democrat does is oK with those folks.

    See what the cathlolic league dude says about jewish folk and gays.

    Talk about offensive speech.

  6. And to the edwards kerfuffle, the people who are offended are professional offendees.

    Nothing a Democrat does is oK with those folks.

    See what the cathlolic league dude says about jewish folk and gays.

    Talk about offensive speech.

  7. Hey Robert! It’s “… under siege *because* of blog …,” not “cause.” I know it’s common usage, but it’s wrong and distracting…

  8. Hey Robert! It’s “… under siege *because* of blog …,” not “cause.” I know it’s common usage, but it’s wrong and distracting…

  9. Firing people just makes the problem worse. If you hire them, defend them cause it’s your own idiocy and lack of due diligence that got you here.

    A candidate for president is going to have a very difficult time defending Marcotte’s anti-Catholic speech. Doing so, imo, is far worse than firing her and taking the momentary heat for hiring someone without completely vetting her views. Defending those views, even if one were to believe them, alienates huge blocks of voters one is presumably interested in having on his side.

  10. Firing people just makes the problem worse. If you hire them, defend them cause it’s your own idiocy and lack of due diligence that got you here.

    A candidate for president is going to have a very difficult time defending Marcotte’s anti-Catholic speech. Doing so, imo, is far worse than firing her and taking the momentary heat for hiring someone without completely vetting her views. Defending those views, even if one were to believe them, alienates huge blocks of voters one is presumably interested in having on his side.

  11. Best move would have been to vet these folks better and not hire them to begin with.

    Second best move would have been to stick by them. By firing them, you are in a situation where you will have thrown two prominent liberal blogger to the wolves in an effort to silence criticism from folks who would have never voted for you anyway. You’ve basically pissed off everyone.

    Poorly handled.

  12. Best move would have been to vet these folks better and not hire them to begin with.

    Second best move would have been to stick by them. By firing them, you are in a situation where you will have thrown two prominent liberal blogger to the wolves in an effort to silence criticism from folks who would have never voted for you anyway. You’ve basically pissed off everyone.

    Poorly handled.

  13. “Firing people just makes the problem worse”
    Aren’t you the guy who told MS they should fire folks in a department for not using RSS?

  14. “Firing people just makes the problem worse”
    Aren’t you the guy who told MS they should fire folks in a department for not using RSS?

  15. 1) This election started WAY too damned early. It would have been nice if we had a break between elections, but no. It would be nice if these elected officials would at least govern for a little while, instead of campaigning. But sticking around long enough to *vote* is obviously asking too much. (Robert, I wish you could have talked Edwards out of announcing so soon. We’re 2 years from the election and I’m already tired of hearing about it.)

    2) Catering your campaign to bloggers is a super-bad idea. Bloggers are Type A personalities with big mouths and bigger egos. (I can say that because I am one, and I fit the above description). They may speak loudly and carry a small stick, but they are a small minority of the population. They do not represent the majority on either side of the political spectrum. And they’ll hardly use restraint when leveling attacks against the other side.

    3) It would be nice if the next President had a little more experience in politics this time around. That means wet-behind-the-ears Senators like Edwards and Obama should be back-seated. We need gravitas leading the country if we’re going to survive the degeneration happening right now in the Middle East. As much as I’d rather have a Republican like McCain as President, I’d take Clinton or Biden over Edwards or Obama any day.

    4) What the hell happened to all the statesmen? The people who put love of country over love of self? Did they all die with Kennedy?

  16. 1) This election started WAY too damned early. It would have been nice if we had a break between elections, but no. It would be nice if these elected officials would at least govern for a little while, instead of campaigning. But sticking around long enough to *vote* is obviously asking too much. (Robert, I wish you could have talked Edwards out of announcing so soon. We’re 2 years from the election and I’m already tired of hearing about it.)

    2) Catering your campaign to bloggers is a super-bad idea. Bloggers are Type A personalities with big mouths and bigger egos. (I can say that because I am one, and I fit the above description). They may speak loudly and carry a small stick, but they are a small minority of the population. They do not represent the majority on either side of the political spectrum. And they’ll hardly use restraint when leveling attacks against the other side.

    3) It would be nice if the next President had a little more experience in politics this time around. That means wet-behind-the-ears Senators like Edwards and Obama should be back-seated. We need gravitas leading the country if we’re going to survive the degeneration happening right now in the Middle East. As much as I’d rather have a Republican like McCain as President, I’d take Clinton or Biden over Edwards or Obama any day.

    4) What the hell happened to all the statesmen? The people who put love of country over love of self? Did they all die with Kennedy?

  17. Keith: yes, I am. Those people RAN the departments. That’s different, methinks. People in leadership roles should get moved to new jobs if they prove they aren’t leading any more. Hey, even Edwards here in my eyes went down a notch. Hiring people is his job #1 and if he didn’t properly vet these bloggers shame on him, especially given the quality of blog knowledge around him.

  18. Keith: yes, I am. Those people RAN the departments. That’s different, methinks. People in leadership roles should get moved to new jobs if they prove they aren’t leading any more. Hey, even Edwards here in my eyes went down a notch. Hiring people is his job #1 and if he didn’t properly vet these bloggers shame on him, especially given the quality of blog knowledge around him.

  19. It would be nice if the next President had a little more experience in politics this time around. That means wet-behind-the-ears Senators like Edwards and Obama should be back-seated. We need gravitas leading the country if we’re going to survive the degeneration happening right now in the Middle East. As much as I’d rather have a Republican like McCain as President, I’d take Clinton or Biden over Edwards or Obama any day.

    Wow. Where does one begin? How about in sequence?

    “It would be nice if the next president….”

    In contrast to the current President, who was governor of the second largest state?

    “That means wet-behind-the-ears Senators like Edwards….I’d take Clinton or Biden over Edwards….”

    Oookay. So Edwards – Senator since 1998 of a state he grew up in – is wet-behind-the-ears compared to Clinton – Senator since 2000 of a state she never resided in?

    You have one thing correct though:

    “Bloggers are Type A personalities with big mouths and bigger egos. (I can say that because I am one, and I fit the above description).”

    But you forgot one other thing that both you and Scoble do frequently – you spout off with little concern for what the facts are.

  20. It would be nice if the next President had a little more experience in politics this time around. That means wet-behind-the-ears Senators like Edwards and Obama should be back-seated. We need gravitas leading the country if we’re going to survive the degeneration happening right now in the Middle East. As much as I’d rather have a Republican like McCain as President, I’d take Clinton or Biden over Edwards or Obama any day.

    Wow. Where does one begin? How about in sequence?

    “It would be nice if the next president….”

    In contrast to the current President, who was governor of the second largest state?

    “That means wet-behind-the-ears Senators like Edwards….I’d take Clinton or Biden over Edwards….”

    Oookay. So Edwards – Senator since 1998 of a state he grew up in – is wet-behind-the-ears compared to Clinton – Senator since 2000 of a state she never resided in?

    You have one thing correct though:

    “Bloggers are Type A personalities with big mouths and bigger egos. (I can say that because I am one, and I fit the above description).”

    But you forgot one other thing that both you and Scoble do frequently – you spout off with little concern for what the facts are.

  21. DaveD: >>In contrast to the current President, who was governor of the second largest state?

    Yeah, that demonstrates that leadership doesn’t come from experience. Great point.

    Do you have a blog? I’d love to learn how to do this right from someone who has a love for the facts.

  22. DaveD: >>In contrast to the current President, who was governor of the second largest state?

    Yeah, that demonstrates that leadership doesn’t come from experience. Great point.

    Do you have a blog? I’d love to learn how to do this right from someone who has a love for the facts.

  23. “Yeah, that demonstrates that leadership doesn’t come from experience. Great point.”

    Are you sure you weren’t referring to Jimmy Carter?

  24. “Yeah, that demonstrates that leadership doesn’t come from experience. Great point.”

    Are you sure you weren’t referring to Jimmy Carter?

  25. @13 “3) It would be nice if the next President had a little more experience in politics this time around. That means wet-behind-the-ears Senators like Edwards and Obama should be back-seated. We need gravitas leading the country if we’re going to survive the degeneration happening right now in the Middle East. As much as I’d rather have a Republican like McCain as President, I’d take Clinton or Biden over Edwards or Obama any day.”

    I’m surprised that a comment with such insight doesn’t also acknowledge the fact that no matter how much experience the candidate may or may not have, being a Senator SEVERELY limits their chances of winning the Presidency. In fact, their experience (read:voting record) usually works against them.

    Edwards is indeed experienced..in running for and being a Senator. Less experienced in running a successful Presidential campaign…and it’s showing.

  26. @13 “3) It would be nice if the next President had a little more experience in politics this time around. That means wet-behind-the-ears Senators like Edwards and Obama should be back-seated. We need gravitas leading the country if we’re going to survive the degeneration happening right now in the Middle East. As much as I’d rather have a Republican like McCain as President, I’d take Clinton or Biden over Edwards or Obama any day.”

    I’m surprised that a comment with such insight doesn’t also acknowledge the fact that no matter how much experience the candidate may or may not have, being a Senator SEVERELY limits their chances of winning the Presidency. In fact, their experience (read:voting record) usually works against them.

    Edwards is indeed experienced..in running for and being a Senator. Less experienced in running a successful Presidential campaign…and it’s showing.

  27. @13 #1),
    You have not seen anything yet, we (all US citizens) about to be assulted by every possible media, including the social web stuff. This assualt will take place in every aspect of our lives and will continue to increase in intensity until after the 2008 vote has been recounted for the third time.
    We no longer look at what canidates can do for us, but what they did in the past and how far they sling mud.
    This last superbowl will have nothing on the the commercial content that the last 9 months of this campaign will generate, we will see a new level of political crap that has nothing to do with the world we live in and everything to do with what the other fella did with his/her high school sweetheart.

    We are in for a horific onslaught that will make the very thought of voting feel like a release from prison, without the rewards that we think we demand.

    I for one will have to get rid of my high def TV and stick with reading old books for the 19th century or the reality of Science fiction.

    Guy

  28. @13 #1),
    You have not seen anything yet, we (all US citizens) about to be assulted by every possible media, including the social web stuff. This assualt will take place in every aspect of our lives and will continue to increase in intensity until after the 2008 vote has been recounted for the third time.
    We no longer look at what canidates can do for us, but what they did in the past and how far they sling mud.
    This last superbowl will have nothing on the the commercial content that the last 9 months of this campaign will generate, we will see a new level of political crap that has nothing to do with the world we live in and everything to do with what the other fella did with his/her high school sweetheart.

    We are in for a horific onslaught that will make the very thought of voting feel like a release from prison, without the rewards that we think we demand.

    I for one will have to get rid of my high def TV and stick with reading old books for the 19th century or the reality of Science fiction.

    Guy

  29. Edwards hired two second-tier bloggers best known for their snarkiness. What did he expect?

    The huffing and puffing of the ever-so-outraged right deserves to be scorned for the political theater that it is, but the deeper issue is why were either of these people hired in the first place?

    I’m familiar with both. Neither are particularly insightful thinkers or political analysts, neither have a strong background in internet marketing/promotion and strategy, both tend to post off-the-cuff blasts of outrage at whatever issue comes across the computer screen. In short, perfectly ordinary bloggers expressing their opinions. Whether you like what they say or how they say it is irrelevant. The substantive issue is what role were they supposed to play in this campaign?

    If their role was to be snarky and attract attacks, they are perfectly suited. If they are supposed to “form a bridge” to the blogosphere, not so good as they are divisive even within the progressive left, let alone among moderate or slightly right-of-center readers. If they are to provide communications strategy, umm, bad choice.

    Now Edwards has himself boxed in. The hire itself has (rightly) become the controversy and he has no good options. The right is free to take pot-shots, the main stream media is drooling over the dirty laundry, and the most irrational part of the “netroots” is making his defense of these ill-considered hires a litmus test for their electoral support.

    In short, bad judgment on the part of the Edwards campaign. Again, I don’t care if these bloggers have opinions I disagree with, or even if they swear like sailors. At issue is campaign strategy and why the hire was made in the first place. He’s off my “A” list as a result.

    FAW

  30. Edwards hired two second-tier bloggers best known for their snarkiness. What did he expect?

    The huffing and puffing of the ever-so-outraged right deserves to be scorned for the political theater that it is, but the deeper issue is why were either of these people hired in the first place?

    I’m familiar with both. Neither are particularly insightful thinkers or political analysts, neither have a strong background in internet marketing/promotion and strategy, both tend to post off-the-cuff blasts of outrage at whatever issue comes across the computer screen. In short, perfectly ordinary bloggers expressing their opinions. Whether you like what they say or how they say it is irrelevant. The substantive issue is what role were they supposed to play in this campaign?

    If their role was to be snarky and attract attacks, they are perfectly suited. If they are supposed to “form a bridge” to the blogosphere, not so good as they are divisive even within the progressive left, let alone among moderate or slightly right-of-center readers. If they are to provide communications strategy, umm, bad choice.

    Now Edwards has himself boxed in. The hire itself has (rightly) become the controversy and he has no good options. The right is free to take pot-shots, the main stream media is drooling over the dirty laundry, and the most irrational part of the “netroots” is making his defense of these ill-considered hires a litmus test for their electoral support.

    In short, bad judgment on the part of the Edwards campaign. Again, I don’t care if these bloggers have opinions I disagree with, or even if they swear like sailors. At issue is campaign strategy and why the hire was made in the first place. He’s off my “A” list as a result.

    FAW

  31. Edwards just released the following statement:
    “The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte’s and Melissa McEwan’s posts personally offended me. It’s not how I talk to people, and it’s not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it’s intended as satire, humor, or anything else. But I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake. I’ve talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone’s faith, and I take them at their word. We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked. It will take discipline, focus, and courage to build the America we believe in.”

    http://blog.johnedwards.com/story/2007/2/8/113651/4503

  32. Edwards just released the following statement:
    “The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte’s and Melissa McEwan’s posts personally offended me. It’s not how I talk to people, and it’s not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it’s intended as satire, humor, or anything else. But I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake. I’ve talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone’s faith, and I take them at their word. We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked. It will take discipline, focus, and courage to build the America we believe in.”

    http://blog.johnedwards.com/story/2007/2/8/113651/4503

  33. The question of issue shouldn’t be the repercussions for the hiring or the actions of the bloggers in the past, but solely their effectiveness to enhance or hinder the campaign. This is politics, everyone has skeletons in their closet that are going to come out… especially when dealing with social media, op-ed like writing styles and writing for hype–that’s how most of the blogosphere runs and to hold candidates accountable for their hires in the past will have little backlash aside from those who are creating the backlash for greater attention. Granted I think political spending on the blogosphere should be directed more so for developing a donor base rather than expanding the exposure of rhetoric, the effectiveness of Edwards and other Candidates can only be increased rather than hindered from their recent hires.

  34. The question of issue shouldn’t be the repercussions for the hiring or the actions of the bloggers in the past, but solely their effectiveness to enhance or hinder the campaign. This is politics, everyone has skeletons in their closet that are going to come out… especially when dealing with social media, op-ed like writing styles and writing for hype–that’s how most of the blogosphere runs and to hold candidates accountable for their hires in the past will have little backlash aside from those who are creating the backlash for greater attention. Granted I think political spending on the blogosphere should be directed more so for developing a donor base rather than expanding the exposure of rhetoric, the effectiveness of Edwards and other Candidates can only be increased rather than hindered from their recent hires.

  35. @23. “The huffing and puffing of the ever-so-outraged right deserves to be scorned for the political theater that it is, but the deeper issue is why were either of these people hired in the first place?”

    A fair comment, indeed. But we all know how this would have played out had this happened in Romney or McCain’s camp and it had been a “right” blogger sounding off about Catholics, Jews, or, heaven forbid, gays. They would have been lynched on the front page of the New York Times. And now that we have Edward’s “give them a second chance” response, the hypocricy of the left is what is just as bothersome. Marcotte says she never meant to offend? Well of course not. At least that’s what you say when you are called to account for your comments Uh-huh. Sure! Then what was your point in the first place?

    If Edwards wants to give her a second chance, then he better be prepared to explain away this to his soccer mom contingent”

    http://pandagon.net/2005/09/04/living-in-the-post-freedom-world/

    Now, if she represents the voting bloc Edwards is going after, well, good luck to him.

  36. @23. “The huffing and puffing of the ever-so-outraged right deserves to be scorned for the political theater that it is, but the deeper issue is why were either of these people hired in the first place?”

    A fair comment, indeed. But we all know how this would have played out had this happened in Romney or McCain’s camp and it had been a “right” blogger sounding off about Catholics, Jews, or, heaven forbid, gays. They would have been lynched on the front page of the New York Times. And now that we have Edward’s “give them a second chance” response, the hypocricy of the left is what is just as bothersome. Marcotte says she never meant to offend? Well of course not. At least that’s what you say when you are called to account for your comments Uh-huh. Sure! Then what was your point in the first place?

    If Edwards wants to give her a second chance, then he better be prepared to explain away this to his soccer mom contingent”

    http://pandagon.net/2005/09/04/living-in-the-post-freedom-world/

    Now, if she represents the voting bloc Edwards is going after, well, good luck to him.

  37. @24 Well, there’s leadership for you! I can’t tell from that is she’s still on board or not. Way to be decisive, Edwards!

  38. @24 Well, there’s leadership for you! I can’t tell from that is she’s still on board or not. Way to be decisive, Edwards!

  39. @26. No, actually, as Steven Benen of Carpetbagger Report points out, people who spew that kind of drivel on the right are invited into the White House as honored advisors and members of the administration.

    http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/9863.html

    I mean, Dick Cheney curses out colleagues on the Senate floor. How crude is that?

    But the focus here is on Edwards’ *judgment* about the people he hires. I don’t care what Marcotte or McEwan think about anything. Edwards response is, if anything, even worse than the hire as it means he didn’t bother to read even a week’s worth of posts to see what these two had to say for themselves. It is also about the way he handles controversy and conflict. On all three counts, he has not demonstrated qualities I expect from an “A” list candidate.

    Compare this to the way Sen. Obama neatly skewered the liars at FOX over the bogus “madrassa” story. You don’t have to like or support the guy to appreciate the way he and his staff disposed of the non-story and continue to slap FOX around for having dared to broadcast the BS.

  40. @26. No, actually, as Steven Benen of Carpetbagger Report points out, people who spew that kind of drivel on the right are invited into the White House as honored advisors and members of the administration.

    http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/9863.html

    I mean, Dick Cheney curses out colleagues on the Senate floor. How crude is that?

    But the focus here is on Edwards’ *judgment* about the people he hires. I don’t care what Marcotte or McEwan think about anything. Edwards response is, if anything, even worse than the hire as it means he didn’t bother to read even a week’s worth of posts to see what these two had to say for themselves. It is also about the way he handles controversy and conflict. On all three counts, he has not demonstrated qualities I expect from an “A” list candidate.

    Compare this to the way Sen. Obama neatly skewered the liars at FOX over the bogus “madrassa” story. You don’t have to like or support the guy to appreciate the way he and his staff disposed of the non-story and continue to slap FOX around for having dared to broadcast the BS.

  41. @Robert McLaws

    I agree that this campaign started too early. It seemed to start right after the Congressional elections. But there’s a good reason for it. The reason is that people can’t wait to get Bush out of there, so they’re already focusing on the next Presidential election. Indeed, there was a recent poll, which said (among other things) that 2/3 of the public wish that the Bush term was already over. It’s at times like these that I wish we had a parlaimentary system, so we wouldn’t have to wait until specific times for elections.

  42. @Robert McLaws

    I agree that this campaign started too early. It seemed to start right after the Congressional elections. But there’s a good reason for it. The reason is that people can’t wait to get Bush out of there, so they’re already focusing on the next Presidential election. Indeed, there was a recent poll, which said (among other things) that 2/3 of the public wish that the Bush term was already over. It’s at times like these that I wish we had a parlaimentary system, so we wouldn’t have to wait until specific times for elections.

  43. @29 “I mean, Dick Cheney curses out colleagues on the Senate floor. How crude is that?”

    I suppose that’s true. But, I guess that’s no different than Billary making jokes about Gandhi http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/152686p-134376c.html, or vehemently denying making anti-Semitic remarks (to put it mildly) http://transcripts.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/07/17/hillary.book/index.html. So, I guess there is plenty of stones to throw on both side. My point is, the level of outrage against the right and the smell of blood in the water is usually more apparent on the left.

  44. @29 “I mean, Dick Cheney curses out colleagues on the Senate floor. How crude is that?”

    I suppose that’s true. But, I guess that’s no different than Billary making jokes about Gandhi http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/152686p-134376c.html, or vehemently denying making anti-Semitic remarks (to put it mildly) http://transcripts.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/07/17/hillary.book/index.html. So, I guess there is plenty of stones to throw on both side. My point is, the level of outrage against the right and the smell of blood in the water is usually more apparent on the left.