A few days ago the John Edwards campaign announced the hiring of two of my favorite sister bloggers, Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister. And of course I was insanely jealous, because I want to be a campaign blogger, too. (Wes Clark? Are you reading this?)

Of course, as soon as anyone on the leftie blogosphere gets a little mainstream media attention, the hate squads of the right form a line and start shooting. This is to be expected. They’re pretty well conditioned to shoot anything on our side that moves. Here is a typically thoughtful criticism of Amanda from the Right.

So far, blogging as usual. But today I see the mainstream media is picking up the “controversy.” The Washington Post is running a Nedra Pickler/AP story headlined “Catholics Slam Bloggers Hired by Edwards.” Wow, that sounds bad. But as the article progressed, “Catholics” was quickly downgraded to “a Catholic group,” which turned out to be Bill Donohue.

How is this news? Donohue hates everybody who isn’t the Pope.

Nedra Pickler writes,

Donohue cited posts that the women made on blogs in the past several months in which they criticized the pope and the church for its opposition to homosexuality, abortion and contraception, sometimes using profanity.

Re the profanity: Apparently rightie bloggers are quivering with outrage because the two ladies occasionally use the “F” word, which rightie bloggers never do.

“The Catholic church is not about to let something like compassion for girls get in the way of using the state as an instrument to force women to bear more tithing Catholics,” Marcotte wrote on the blog Pandagon on Dec. 26, in an excerpt cited by Donohue.

I agree that Amanda is not being fair to single out the Catholic Church for its policy on reproduction rights. It’s not just the Catholic Church, but the entire Christian Right, that considers women to be brood animals.

Among the McEwan posts that Donohue listed was one she posted on Feb. 21, 2006, on her site, Shakespeare’s Sister. She questioned what religious conservatives don’t understand about “keeping your noses out of our britches, our beds and our families?”

Hey, Bill, if the truth hurts …

Amanda is also getting slammed for allegedly deleting some posts about last year’s Duke University rape allegations. Via email, Amanda says the “deletions” occurred accidentally last year when Pandagon archives were imported to WordPress from Moveable Type. Lots of posts about other issues were “deleted” as well.

James Joyner points out that campaigns on both sides are hiring bloggers —

As more campaigns (and corporations and PR firms) get aboard the “blogger relations” bandwagon, the natural impulse is to hire established bloggers. Hillary Clinton has hired Peter Daou, John McCain has Patrick Hynes, Rudy Giuliani has Patrick Ruffini, and the Senate Republicans have hired Jon Henke, who was also brought on too late to do George Allen much good.

[Update: Glenn Greenwald takes a stroll through the Patrick Hynes archives.]

I figured out yesterday that Ruffini was working for Giuliani, because the two Giuliani posts I wrote yesterday were getting hits from Ruffini’s news aggregate site. Apparently the site had picked up the posts without paying much attention to what I actually wrote. Sharp lad, that Patrick Ruffini.

But this made me stop and think. It’s clear that as soon as the Edwards campaign announced the hiring of Amanda and Melissa, elements of the Right began combing through their old posts for anything they could turn into a scandal. Nobody on the Left appears to have done the same to Hynes, Ruffini, or Henke. Anyone who has been blogging very long at all is bound to have written a few things that come across badly or turned out to be wrong. Yet we don’t bother to do to them what they do to us. Why is that?

(Note to Wes Clark campaign: I assure you that I don’t ever use the “F” word on Mahablog. I rarely use any profanity stronger than “whackjob” or “Michelle Malkin.”)

Speaking of Michelle — I’m trying to import a couple of YouTube classics of Michelle for your enjoyment to include in this post, but they are slow to come up. They’ll probably pop up on the blog later today when I’m not looking. Well, fudge. Until then, you can see one of them here.

Anyway, I called this post “Intimidation” because I see in the New York Times that the Edwards campaign is “weighing the fate” of the two bloggers. Which, of course, is the point of the rightie slime campaign — to intimidate lefties into backing down. I urge the Edwards campaign not to back down.

34 thoughts on “Intimidation

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  2. Could you publish the email from Marcotte claiming that a technical error explained the deletion of her Duke post? To my knowledge, she hasn’t claimed this before: the only criticism of her deleting posts came with her January 2007 post, which she

    I certainly have never claimed that she deleted other posts on Duke, and I’m not sure anyone else has either.

    And for the record, I was a Hillary Clinton volunteer in her 2000 Senate campaign and am supporting Barack Obama for president in 2008, in large part because he was correct on the war all along, whereas Edwards wasn’t. I’m not sure if that makes me part of the “hate squads of the right”; if so, it’s an awfully broad definition of what constitutes the “right.”

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  4. Could you publish the email from Marcotte claiming that a technical error explained the deletion of her Duke post?

    Not without her permission. BTW, are you calling me a liar?

    I certainly have never claimed that she deleted other posts on Duke, and I’m not sure anyone else has either.

    Not other posts on Duke; other posts on other stuff beside Duke, including posts she regretted losing by other Pandagon bloggers. About half a month’s work was lost, she said. Their host server kept shutting down operations because of bandwidth. They made four attempts to re-load, but they still lost some random stuff by several writers on several topics, one of which was the Duke University post that many on the Right are trying to blow up into a big bleeping issue.

  5. Just one critter’s opinion, but there is nothing in this world more corrupt and pernicious than the upper levels of leadership of the Catholic church–noting clearly the difference between the people, the body of the church versus its leadership. Donohue deserves to be handcuffed to Bill Benett and thrown into a dark room with only one tube of lube between them.

    B.– Wes Clark would be lucky to have you.

  6. Maha, you ask: ‘Yet we don’t bother to do to them what they do to us. Why is that?’
    For me, a part of the answer: The leftie blogs which I read are offering [without profanity] a wealth of information, particularly some should-be-news-making facts often ignored by the MSM [like your last post on Gulliani] and are offering critical thinking and passionate well-written expressions on soul-centering issues.

    The rightie blogs offended me a long time ago because of the ugliness of the language. But especially I am put off by their shallowness of thinking on important issues, which, with a few exceptions [thinking of Captain Ed….], just seems to be infantile regurgitation of whatever a few pack leaders feed them.

    Lefties engage against ignorance which lifts the readers’ consciousness. Righties engage in a battle [against anyone not of their group mind] because they love a battlefield mentality that pump themselves up, period…..and that self-promotion dumbs down the readers’ consciousness.
    Rightie ‘memes of the day’ are so boring and predictably shallow that I rarely even visit their sites. I’ve learned to ignore those clustered sites [listed on Memorandum] which echo the latest ‘rightie meme’. Ever notice how those memes purposefullly trash the messengers in order to avoid the messages about important matters like the Scooter Libby trial or the Haditha killings or the Decider’s trashing of the Constitution?

    BTW, I think you would be a great blogger for any campaign, so I hope that one of the several great candidates will realize that!

    I am going to Obama’s announcement gathering in Springfield, Illinois this Saturday because I have a sense of something deep about this guy’s potential, and simply want to forever feel that I was present for that ‘history in the making’. As a teenager, I heard Eleanor Roosevelt speak in Champaign, Illinois and that single event has repeatedly warmed a spot inside me all the years since.

  7. Maha,
    The post that you linked to at Durham Wonderland was, actually, deleted by Amanda and replaced with a very different post – which Amanda admits on Pandagon. The posts you are fererring to are not the one that Durham Wonderland and many others are criticizing her for.

  8. Oops, I got into my ‘thinking about’ and lost the simple answer.
    To try again:

    Maha, you ask: ‘Yet we don’t bother to do to them what they do to us. Why is that?

    Because to engage them on that level is 1] what they most want, and 2] because that would reduce us to their level, and 3] because reading their sites is like sifting garbage—very smelly and yukky.

  9. The post that you linked to at Durham Wonderland was, actually, deleted by Amanda and replaced with a very different post – which Amanda admits on Pandagon.

    OK; I checked it out. I assume you are referring to this. Sounds like she was trying to defend herself from a hate swarm. That’s a clumsy way to handle it, but I understand how she feels. I’ve had posts of mine twisted out of context to make me the target of a hate swarm a few times. It ain’t fun.

    Regarding the Duke University flap; I didn’t comment on it on this blog because I was waiting for a conviction, but plenty’s the time I’ve seen innocent people skewered by mainstream media before all the facts come out. It happens. Remember Richard Jewell?

    There’s a point at which hounding someone for a mistake turns into a counter-lynch mob that is uglier and more damaging than the original mistake. Take care.

  10. I must say I do like your writing and the depth analyses you bring to subjects aboaut which you write. This post about the hiring of the bloggers was enjoyable. However, for us uninformed, what is the story about the Duke lacrosse players that was accidentally uncreted from the site. Without knowing what was extirpated, it is difficult to discern whether in fact the happening was intentional or not.
    Concerning the issue of the Catholic Church. You speak to the use of profanity in connection with writings about the Church. I notice you, like I, cannot use the profanity in question but merely say the “F” word. It seems to me that although that word has slowly developed from totally verboten to benign acceptance over the past forty years. (I would like reading an article by you doing a history of the change especially among women. I can remember fights occurring when one male was incensed by another using that word in front of a woman.) But even though the word has become more commonplace I suggest using it in connection with writings about the Church is out of place and demonstrates an unwarranted bigotry against Catholics who perhaps are more sensitive to its use than others.
    And you may be right saying the so-called Catholics in the article boils down to Bill Donohue but that is misleading because Donohue speaks for and has a strong following among Catholics. Edwards needs every advantage he can gain since he trails both Clinton and Obama. He will have to weight the effect of hiring two persons, now known as anti-Catholic, whether rightly or wrongly, against the propaganda Donohue can bring against him. In my opinion Donohue’s Catholics are rock solid Republicans and Edwards could hire Ian Paisley and it would make no difference in the votes he would get. But to him I’m sure the hiring of the bloggers was a minor afterthought and it will not take much to jettison them. It will be interesting to follow and I hope you will keep us posted.
    Finally, as far as you shilling for one candidate, although it might be financially remunerative it may adversely affect you fine writing.

  11. Edwards should not let this minor dust up regarding a decision he has made become a bump in the road…a decision that need more thought. If he intends to be the leader of the free world he better learn how to make decions of this nature by leading and not following the wingnut noise machine. Edwards needs to find a nice way to tell the wingnut to STFU and get back running for president.

  12. And you may be right saying the so-called Catholics in the article boils down to Bill Donohue but that is misleading because Donohue speaks for and has a strong following among Catholics.

    I grew up in the Bible Belt, and back in the 1950s I remember going on some school and/or Brownie troop outings to historic sites that included the old St. Louis Cathedral and a historic Catholic church in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. And a lot of the other children had notes from their parents saying they were not to enter the churches because Catholics were idol worshippers. Not just one or two children, mind you; several. And I thought at the time it was a shame people were bigots like that.

    But Donohue isn’t doing Catholics any favors by proving that a Catholic can be as big a bigot as anyone else. And I don’t think John Edwards or anyone else needs to cater to that creep. Anyone who is a follower of Donohue isn’t likely to vote for a progressive, anyway.

  13. Maha, I think you should do whatever makes you happy, but I think you are far too good to write for a candidate.I know you would do an outstanding job, it just seems your so far above that.However, any candidate would be LUCKY to have you.

    As for michelle,we all know she is nothing more than a paid bushco monkey.What does any monkey do when they get your attention? They throw shit.Just let her stomp around in her cage and throw poop and ignore her.I feel a little bad for the poor primates comparing them to michelle and her hot air buddies but the fact is taking a peek inside the rightie blogs is JUST like a look into the primate cage at the zoo….yes they look close enough to real people they just haven’t evolved yet.Next time you see one of those charts that shows from primate to human note the one in the middle and you have a textbook image of the right.Not monkey, but not human yet either.Bush, I assume, was a mite picked off one of their bodies and kept to amuse them.

    Perhaps she should take some of dick cheneys advice and go bleep herself….or does it not count when a repubican says it?That just goes to show you, Amanda CANNOT work on a campaign and drop the f bomb, but she could sure as hell be our next f’ing VP!

    Maha, geez…..I don’t wanna see THAT face on your blog first thing when I wake up..UGH!!!!!!We could have sure used old ashcrofts blue drape today!!!!How do you keep your cat from trying to cover it?

  14. “Donohue speaks for… Catholics”? You mean in the way Charles Coughlin spoke for Catholics in the 1950s? Come on.

  15. I urge the Edwards campaign not to back down.

    Amen. This isn’t about Amanda or Shakes or even Edwards; as you say, it’s about intimidation. It’s about the right working the refs (and the refs’ willingness to be worked). It’s about dirty little bigoted vermin like Donohue trying to shut down any speech that doesn’t support his hateful extremism. And it’s about how the Democrats keep taking it and taking it and failing to fight back effectively (see Boat, Swift).

  16. Why is malkin(or anyone else with no life) worried who works for Edwards anyhow? Shouldn’t she be more worried about her own party? Edwards fired them why? To pander to the malkins of the world?(look where that has this country since george has tried it).He can count on the nutcase vote now?(snark)

    Again I will say you can be a filthy bleeper on the FLOOR OF THE SENATE and thats all good, but don’t say the bleep word and expect a staffers job…how bleeped up is that?

    Too much is bleeped up in this country in the name of religion and I think this would be a good time for people to start worrying about their own personal morality rather than pointing at others.Let he(or she) without sin cast the first stone…

    Something has gotta give.Everytime I hear from that side it makes me sick to think I pretend to be united with their kind…imagine if the right were your partner ,because they very much are and you are known by the company you keep..No wonder the rest of the world sees us like a big piece of crap..they think we are all michelle malkins……..
    The look into the primate cage does not impress me..hoooray she can throw shit and sometimes it will even still stinks.

    PS. I am a female sexist and I am proud of it.If anon has a problem with it he should shag his ass in the kitchen and complain while he bakes me some cookies…I take issue with the idea that a female sexist can’t have whatever friggin job she wants…so can an idiot for that matter(see the oval office)…now be a good little boy and do something that entertains me.And FYI any female sexist worth her weight doesn’t need a job, thats what we have men for.Why aren’t you at work?

    Imagine how empty the workplace would be if being a sexist, an idiot or a bigot made one exempt from working….

  17. My feeling:

    Edwards should spin the issue as one of free speech. Make it a net positive:

    “These people have said things that have made people angry. That’s their lives, and their business. I hired them because they are good, provocative writers. If they write something for my campaign that I disapprove of, I will consider taking action, but I will not discriminate in my hiring and retention policies based upon their previous activities, and will instead focus solely on how well they do the job I hired them to do. I don’t expect you to dig up dirt on the people who answer the phones, I don’t expect you to dig up dirt on the people who clean the offices, and I don’t expect you to dig up dirt on the people who write the blog. Let me know if the phones are answered with rudeness, the offices are dirty, or something unacceptable is written in the blog.”

  18. I am so sick of all these “so-called” Christians trying to shove their religious points of view done my throat. That is not what America is about. Also, most of these screamers are NOT Christian. Their actions prove that. Jimmy Carter is a Christian and impresses me more about Christianity than any of these other religious nuts. As for Catholics, again, they are trying to push their Roman Catholic doctrine down the throats of all non-Catholics. This is NOT the American way. I will be disappointed if Edwards does not defend his choice of bloggers against the name-calling, hate-filled right wing bloggers.

  19. Right-wing talk show hosts such as Laura Ingraham tell listeners that Christians should stick up for their religion as much as the Muslim extremists did over the uproar over the cartoons of Mohammed – that American Christians allow their religious beliefs to be disrepected all of the time and that American Christians should put a stop to it.

    It’s all just part of “fighting the good fight” against the stereotype of Christians being stupid hicks and the butt of every joke. They’ve taken a page out of the so-called liberal play book and are now acting as out-raged victims any time someone says anything at all against them.

    Speaking of victims, look at the uproar recently over the former Seinfeld comedian. He was wrong to cast those racial slurs, but did anyone care to know that those in the audience were hurling back the same type of racial slurs at the comedian? That both sides were at fault? There is reverse discrimination and we can try to ignore it but ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away. It seems to be at work these days against those who have discriminated against Christians. The left sticks up for minorities over racial profiling – all Muslims aren’t extremists. Well, neither are all Christians extremists or pedophiles or whatever.

    Unfortunately, it does seem that anything goes these days with bathroom and sexual humor married to art being bandied about freely and being defended as “free speech”. I guess it’s all just change and progress and we should get used to it. However, I miss the old days when such things were “beyond the pale”. Is there anything at all “beyond the pale” these days? Maybe the OJ Simpson “If I did it..” What else? Not much.

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  21. Edwards is missing out on a major opportunity to make a few points. First, he should ask if everyone he hires for his campaign will have to go through confirmation hearings with his opposition? Second, he should ask why the opposition is more interested in muckraking about the hired help than in discussing issues. Last, Edwards should say he will not hire a felon for his campaign, or a racist, but he is looking for ability, not angel’s wings because there is important work to be done.

    On the subject of the religious right, Edwards should bring up and ask about fundie christian righties, who are opposed to a vaccine that will stop a virus which causes cervical cancer. The virus is sexually transmitted and some wingnuts are sure the vaccine will encourage promiscuity. So it’s better women die of cervical cancer??? Edward has odd Baptist credentials, but he generally has his head screwed on right. He needs to take the fight to the religious wingnuts and declare that they do NOT speak for Christians, nor will he (Edwards) accept that the Republicans have some kind of lock on that group.

    Bottom line for ALL candidates: when they go off on a tangent, go back to issues. The campaign NEEDS to be about issues (not image); we can beat any Republican candidate I am familiar with on ISSUES.

  22. I am Catholic, and one of the “cafeteria” type Donohue professes to despise. “Screamin’ Bill” is more about politics wrapped up in religious garb. Unfortunately for our church, the Bill Donohues tend to get more favorable attention from the Curia and the reactionary souls in charge in Rome. As a Catholic, “Screamin’ Bill” most certainly does NOT speak for me.

  23. Maha, you are one of my favorites in the leftie blogosphere, but in this case I think you’re too easy on Amanda. When I read the story in the New York Times I visited Pandagon, a blog I’d never seen before, and checked out all the stories tagged “religion” as long as WordPress would let me. I made a special effort to seek out the story mentioned in the New York Times (it was about the Virgin Birth, not the Immaculate Conception).

    At the time I checked out Pandagon, I didn’t know that the Edwards blog was up and running and that Amanda was already at the helm. But when I did check the Edwards Website, I found that Amanda was coordinating things behind the scenes, not writing the blog herself. And her introductory message on the Edwards site was in a different style from Pandagon. Nevertheless, what I found at Pandagon, I believe, was a legitimate cause for concern, especially to religious believers like me. (BTW, Maha, I had wanted to comment on the Dawkins post of Jan. 4, but the comments were closed, so I e-mailed you.)

    Unlike you, Amanda writes on Pandagon in a foul-mouthed manner that is not limited to the F-word. With all my affection for the idealism of the 60’s, one of that era’s great errors was that obscenity and crude language are necessary for honesty, passion, wit, and zeal for justice. Just read Paul Krugman or Bob Herbert and you’ll see how wrong that assumption is. Furthermore, Amanda exhibits the very traits of “fundamentalist atheism” that you rightly deplore. For her, Christians who are not wingnuts simply do not exist. And I didn’t have to ferret out anything hateful; Amanda consistently takes that attitude. You don’t have to be William Donohue to wonder about the the choice of her to run the Edwards blog.

    I’ve been a lifelong liberal; I have always voted for Democrats for president ever since I was old enough. Last year I did phone work as a MoveOn volunteer. I’m also a devout Lutheran who attends church every Sunday, serves on the parish council, and is theologically conservative. I have never been thrown out of a MoveOn party for being a Christian, but when I hear Christians and Christianity roundly and regularly excoriated in the leftie blogosphere (and the comments are worse than the posts themselves), I get the sense that religious believers are not welcome in the progressive movement.

    Leaving aside matters of simple fairness, can any presidential candidate afford to give that impression?

  24. “It’s not just the Catholic Church, but the entire Christian right,
    that considers women to be brood animals.”

    Thought experiment: So those of the left who are confessed Christians (Catholic, actually, and “personally” against abortion), such as Sens. Casey, Kerry, Kennedy, Gov. Cuomo,, believe women are brood animals, but do not believe the government has the right to force them to be brood animals?

  25. Thought experiment: So those of the left who are confessed Christians (Catholic, actually, and “personally” against abortion), such as Sens. Casey, Kerry, Kennedy, Gov. Cuomo,, believe women are brood animals, but do not believe the government has the right to force them to be brood animals?

    The very fact that these gentlemen are pro-choice means they recognize that women are free agents. They may be opposed to abortion on moral grounds, but they don’t assume to swoop into women’s lives and make personal decisions on their behalf. That means they recognize that women are human.

    And might I add: Jeez, you’re stupid. I don’t think we need you around any more.

  26. What baffles me almost as much is why there’s such a rush on ripping open cans of campaign bloggers… I can almost taste the title of the corresponding enticing memo, presented by a pair of nearly out of breath but freshly graduated campaign consultants: “Increasing Our Net Presence With An Instant Blogoblaze!”

    (Yes, I’m of the old school “show me what you’re hiring and I’ll tell you what you lack” persuasion.)

    Although I hope for Amanda and Melissa that Michael Bérubé has it wrong, I actually think he hit it on the nail.

    Teh Internets sux0r if you’re a mean-spirited and jaded politician as usual…

  27. If this means the JE campaign will next fire anyone on staff who has some old Sinead O’Connor CDs in their collection, I’d be happy to have them. Mine are getting sort of all torn up. 😉

    Is this a great country or what? We can’t fire the jerk who led us into a needless war, but we can fire people for having written something before they were hired that offends the right wing noise machine.

    Wes Clark is right. “Where is the justice?”

  28. General Clark, you would do well to hire Ms. O’Brien. While I think I love your candidacy more than she does, I would not wish to join your campaign much as I support your running again. [Drop the “f-word” into google and my blog comes up fairly high on the list. In fact about 2% of my current search engine traffic is from people searching for that word.]

    Many bloggers, myself especially, have grown a bit toxic from having fought the good fight against the rancid, hate-mongering right these many years. Ms. O’Brien has remained above that fray while tolerating none of the right’s foolishness.

    You’d do well to hire her. Very well.

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