Loose Lips in the Blogosphere Don't Sink Presidential Ships

ByABC News
February 14, 2007, 2:41 PM

Feb. 15, 2007 — -- The Dean scream has faded into memory, but the volatile and youthful voice of the Web has now matured into a forceful bellow in the 2008 presidential race.

Almost every major presidential candidate -- from left to right of the political spectrum -- has embraced the blogosphere.

YouTube. Myspace. Facebook. Instant Messaging. Political blogs. Presidential campaigns are redefining their political toolboxes to reach every potential voter.

"This is a medium that has formed and evolved since the last presidential election," said blogger Patrick Hynes, 34, a paid Internet consultant to John McCain, R-Ariz. "More people are engaged in this online dialogue and more activist tools are available at their fingertips. It's great for organizing."

But when it goes wrong, it goes very wrong, as in the nascent campaign of John Edwards, D-N.C.

Just days after signing on to be Edwards' blogmaster, Amanda Marcotte, a 29-year-old left-of-center blogger, resigned over anti-Catholic comments she had previously made on the blog Pandagon.

Then a second acerbic Edwards campaign blogger, Melissa McEwan, also became a lightning rod for conservative critics, and she, too, quit over her reportedly anti-Catholic messages.

"We're beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can't let it be hijacked," Edwards said, after the 350,000-strong Catholic League threatened to unleash a public relations effort against his campaign.

From the other side of the aisle, Hynes understands the ramifications of this new political age. He was criticized, and later apologized, for not telling readers on his blog, anklebitingpundits.com, that he was consulting for the early McCain political action committee.

Still, Hynes believes the best political advice is to learn to live in harmony with the vocal blogosphere. "Politicians have to accept that this is an era where strictly controlling their message is ending," he said. "There are too many activist voices in the new media -- and too many perspectives that are now being given a voice -- for a campaign to run its message through central command."