WASHINGTON - The National Journal explains that when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has a particularly tough time during a press briefing, he doesn't sweat it - he gets the desired message out through pro-Obama bloggers:
He had The New Republic's Brian Beutler dismissing Benghazi as "nonsense." He had Slate's David Weigel, along with The Washington Post's Plum Line blog, debunking any claim that the new email was a "smoking gun." Media Matters for America labeled Benghazi a "hoax." Salon wrote that the GOP had a "demented Benghazi disease." Daily Kos featured the headline: "Here's Why the GOP Is Fired Up About Benghazi—and Here's Why They're Wrong." The Huffington Post offered "Three Reasons Why Reviving Benghazi Is Stupid—for the GOP."
While Republicans tend to schmooze mainstream journalists to carry their stories, Obama taps into loyal online reporters to carry their message:
It's been a familiar pattern since President Obama took office in 2009: When critics attack, the White House can count on a posse of progressive writers to ride to its rescue. Pick an issue, from the Affordable Care Act to Ukraine to the economy to controversies involving the Internal Revenue Service and Benghazi, and you'll find the same voices again and again, on the Web and on Twitter, giving the president cover while savaging the opposition. And typically doing it with sharper tongues and tighter arguments than the White House itself.
Indeed, Obama-linked DC bloggers are changing the way mainstream media decides which stories to report:
The hope, from the White House's perspective, is that progressive media elites sway the mainstream press. "Obviously, all journalists are reading each other on Twitter," says Tim Miller, executive director of the conservative America Rising PAC and a former spokesman for Jon Huntsman. "If you've got very articulate, passionate bloggers on the left who are making arguments why something shouldn't be news, that might have a shaming effect on other journalists who might not want to be mocked or who might be convinced by their arguments."
But conservative alternative news is also having an effect on news coverage as well as effecting public policy. Powerful national media sources such as the Drudge Report stir passions and energy simply by providing links to stories throughout the nation that local media overlook or purposely ignores.
Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee F. Goodman is concerned that bloggers and radio talk show hosts that promote conservative candidates may soon be considered advocates and be facing regulation:
Noting the success of sites like the Drudge Report, Goodman said that protecting conservative media, especially those on the internet, “matters to me because I see the future going to the democratization of media largely through the internet. They can compete with the big boys now, and I have seen storm clouds that the second you start to regulate them, there is at least the possibility or indeed proclivity for selective enforcement, so we need to keep the media free and the internet free.”
Goodman, whose term as chairman of the FEC ends in December, pointed to close votes that would have dramatically placed a leftist thumb on the scale of media balance:
But Goodman cited several examples where the FEC has considered regulating conservative media, including Sean Hannity's radio show and Citizens United's movie division. Those efforts to lift the media exemption died in split votes at the politically evenly divided board, often with Democrats seeking regulation.
Goodman said right-leaning new media outlets are breaking through, and the Left doesn't like it:
“The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and internet communications,” he added.
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