Edwards' Campaign Blogger Quits Amid Controversy
Blogger Used Incendiary Language When Posting Thoughts on Christianity to Personal Blog
By JAKE TAPPER
Feb. 13, 2007
Amanda Marcotte, a campaign blogger for presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards, quit the campaign Monday, after the incendiary language on her personal blog became too much of a distraction. Marcotte's controversial writings about Christianity continued on her personal blog, Pandagon, even after Edwards had talked to her about no longer making such postings.
The criticism "was creating a situation where I felt that every time I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign," Marcotte wrote on her personal blog Pandagon.
The Edwards campaign had no comment.
Offensive Blogs Reveal Double-Edged Sword of Technology
The controversial postings of Marcotte and another Edwards campaign blogger, Melissa McEwan, had aroused the wrath of conservatives and subjected the Edwards campaign to a rash of unwanted media attention.
Edwards had decided to keep the women on staff to give them a "fair shake," though he repudiated their offensive postings.
Edwards had found himself in a 21st century politician's bind -- he did not want to offend the liberal activists of the Internet, the so-called "netroots," whose support Democratic politicians want to cultivate. But Marcotte's comments had also become a distraction for his campaign, one that risked alienating Catholic voters.
Second Chance Brings Second Round of Controversy
Edwards stuck with his employees, derided their comments and had hoped the flap would die down.
But on Monday, in a review of the film "Children of Men," Marcotte wrote that the "Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where God is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels."
On the Internet, outrage erupted.
Within the Edwards campaign, staffers were surprised that Marcotte was continuing to use questionable language about Christianity even after the flap of a week ago.
Then, before the Edwards campaign could even react, Marcotte submitted her resignation.
Blogger Resigns From Edwards Campaign
In her farewell, Marcotte took several shots at Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, who repeatedly had called for Edwards to fire both bloggers for remarks he deemed anti-Catholic.
These include, as documented in the blog of "Nightline" anchor Terry Moran (click here), Marcotte's take on the Catholic Church's opposition to birth control:
"Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit? A: You'd have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology."
"John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots," Donohue recently wrote. "He has no choice but to fire them immediately."
Edwards had decided to distance himself from his own bloggers but retain them on staff, saying "the tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwan's posts personally offended me. 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 that did not quell the Internet storm as Marcotte continued to write in her no-holds-barred style.
In her resignation, Marcotte fired back at her chief critic in her farewell posting on her blog, saying that Donohue's activism was in violation of his organization's tax status.
"I was hired by the Edwards campaign for the skills and talents I bring to the table, and my willingness to work hard for what's right. Unfortunately, Bill Donohue and his cavalcade of right wing shills don't respect that a mere woman like me could be hired for my skills, and pretended that John Edwards had to be held accountable for some of my personal, non-mainstream views on religious influence on politics," Marcotte wrote.
Donohue, it might be noted, has a history of inflammatory comments himself, having referred in the past to the "gay death style" and having called gays "queers." In 2004 he said: "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular...Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost."
Campaigns Confront Pros & Cons of Internet
Edwards is hardly the first politician to experience Internet issues.
Last weekend, an alleged threat against Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was posted on the blog of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., prompting the Secret Service to investigate.
More on that from ABC News' Kate Snow and Eloise Harper here.
"Those comments are absolutely deplorable and we removed them from the Web site," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton about the incident.
"You run just this sort of risk when you've got an open Web site and a campaign focused on the grassroots," he said.
"But, frankly, despicable comments like these are in the vast minority among positive input from thousands of individuals from around the country."