Wednesday, April 13


What a day. Back-to-back meetings, a new assignment every few hours (all due within a few weeks), etc. The good thing is, I'm happiest when I'm busiest.

The most interesting, and infuriating, event of the day: I attended a luncheon of around 50 people (a meeting of the Dallas chapter of International Association of Business Communicators), at which the featured speakers were public relations executive Jennifer Webster, who with Merrie Spaeth served as spokesperson for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Dr. Rita Kirk of SMU, who has recently completed a study of blogging during the presidential race of 2004; Dr. Kirk's study will be published in the June/July issue of American Behavioral Science. I recorded the whole thing and will post the transcription as soon as I have time. Meanwhile, I'll note that Webster's presentation got me steamed all over again about the Swift Boat Vets issue, but I was gratified to see that several (mystifyingly, all male) other attendees had the same reaction as did I. While I was prepared to jump on any new revelations, Webster merely rehashed what we who are informed already knew, but I'll admit to being amazed that she continues to assert that the Vets championed the "truth," while ignoring the fact that that "truth" was questionable, e.g. the meme "I served with John Kerry" was a euphemism for "I served in the military at the same time that John Kerry did" as opposed to "I actually served on the same boat as did John Kerry."

Webster explained the Swift Boat Vets PR success as a "tapping code strategy" (the suggestion of a former VietNam POW related to the "tapping" code used by POWs to communicate with one another in a manner not understood by their guards), i.e., when they had negative results from their attempts to get the MSM to cover their story, they went around them and contacted right-wing bloggers, wingnut talk radio hosts, and other alternative media, who championed their cause. She claimed that another source of their success was poor strategy by the Kerry campaign in initially failing to respond to their charges, in suing over the Unfit for Duty John O'Neill book, which brought MSM attention to it, and suing over the Sinclair Broadcasting airing of the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor.

Dr. Kirk's presentation was both interesting and maddening in several ways. She asserted that while only 2% of Internet users actually read blogs during the election cycle, fully 13% of American voters went to the Internet to receive information about the nominees. She lauded the contributions to blog history-making of Zephyr Teachout of the Dean campaign, but said that "Deaniacs championed a candidate that didn't actually exist." I was not called on during Q&A, probably because I looked choleric in my anger about that statement. She spoke about the network of communities of interest but competely omitted the place of comments in that process. Granted, she only had about 30 minutes to speak, but other than Drudge and Technorati, I'd never heard of any of the blog-related sites she mentioned, and I've been an active blog reader (forget my own blogging) for more than three years.


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