I recently invited Lindsay Beyerstein to join the TMW blogging collective because every time I looked at her site, she’d have something on a news story I’d either meant to blog but didn’t get around to or had missed entirely. Rather than vowing to do a better job myself, it seemed easier just to co-opt her. And reading this piece of hers in Salon confirmed to me that she’ll fit in at TMW, because I would have had exactly the same response, in the astonishingly unlikely event I were invited to blog for a campaign:
I was dazzled by Edwards’ speech, Bob’s vision and the sense that I might be on the verge of the big time. I wanted to jump on the bus, but I knew I couldn’t.
“I’m probably not … the person you want,” I said, finally. “I mean, I’m on the record saying that abortion is good and that all drugs should be legalized, including heroin. Don’t you think that might be a little embarrassing for the campaign?”
Bob assured me that my controversial posts weren’t a problem as far as the campaign was concerned. They were familiar with my work. And Bob did seem to know my writing. I didn’t get the impression he was a daily reader, but it was obvious he had been reading the blog for a while.
“That’s you, that’s not John Edwards,” he said.
Bob was confident that people would understand the difference. I wasn’t so sure.
“So, it’s not a problem that I’m an outspoken atheist?” I asked.
Every blogger says controversial things from time to time, Bob assured me. He admitted that he’d drawn some fire for a tasteless joke on his own site a while back. It hadn’t been a big deal.
I asked if I would have to quit blogging at Majikthise in order to take the job with Edwards. My blog means more to me than any job I’ve ever had. After three years of hard work, I finally have a platform from which to express ideas that won’t get a hearing in the established media, let alone in mainstream Democratic politics. So the prospect of giving up my untrammeled freedom to blog press releases for John Edwards gave me pause. Still, I assumed Bob would say it was a necessity.
I was wrong. Bob promised that I wouldn’t have to give up my personal blog. He added that I probably wouldn’t have much time left for personal blogging, since everyone was working 18-hour days on the campaign. But, he noted, he hadn’t given up his own blog, and neither had another member of the Edwards Internet team.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A bunch of Internet staffers with private blogs sounded like a disaster waiting to happen.
What happened to the Edwards bloggers was infuriating. But knowing that these issues were raised in advance … suffice it to say, some day we’re going to look back on this point in the history of the internet and be astonished at how naive and careless we were.