Tag Archives: SF Weekly

Matt Smith is a Lying Idiot

Matt Smith is an Idiot I want to follow up on Robert’s post about SF Weekly and Matt Smith. First, look at the treatment of the story to the right. That is a lie. An outright lie. And should be retracted.

Like when Matt Smith says I’m a, “Political blogger turned Internet strategy consultant.” That is another lie, unless by “turned” he meant to say, “Bob Brigham has been working in politics for more than a decade and began specializing in online strategy prior to when he began blogging. Otherwise, it is just a lie. In a piece where he lectures people about ethics.

And here’s another lie:

The site’s pro-Leno editor and publisher Brian Leubitz was also hired to work on the campaign; both men received press credentials to “cover” the state Democratic convention.

No, we did not receive press credentials. We received “internet media” credentials. Another lie and this is only the fifth paragraph.

So now we can thank Leno’s Web team for making misleading political strategists who blog for pay another reason to hate the Internet…

Except people don’t hate the internet. People love the internet. And the misleading thing isn’t the fact I’m a strategist, it is this entire pile of garbage.

For political professionals, hiring bloggers seems to have become yet another aspect of the ever-evolving business of politics.

Or, Matt Smith could have said, for political professionals, having the ability to move message online is another aspect of the ever-evolving business of politics. Or Matt Smith could have pointed out that part of the “internet strategy” was Mark Leno’s social networking operation and his website and his email campaign. Or that part of the “internet strategy” was Mark Leno’s online fundraising:

The victor in that contest, Mark Leno, raised more than $227,000 from 600 donors, an ActBlue record for a state race.

It isn’t like he didn’t have all of this explained to him, using small words. Instead, he decided to slime Mark Leno, his campaign, and Brian and I personally. In the end, what Matt Smith doesn’t get is that bloggers aren’t journalists. And if this crap is any indication, neither is he. As for me, I am a political consultant. That’s what I do. Yes, I do specialize online and I made that transition following working on Mayor Newsom’s 2003 race — before I began blogging. And yes, I was proud to work for Mark Leno.

And finally, I think Jim Ross gives us too much credit when he says:

“What happens on these Weblogs affects which state donors get into the race, how opinion makers decide who to support and not to support,” Ross said. “I think a lot of the work the Leno campaign did that made it credible – that they could beat Carole Migden – that was done online.”

No, the reason Mark Leno was a credible candidate is because he is Mark Leno. He’s a great candidate who translated his longstanding involvement in the community online. It resonated with the netroots. Is it why he won and by 15 points? No. Did it help? Yes. That would have made a great story, but it would have required a writer who does not “hate” the internet, but understands it and politics. All kinds of people have written that story about Obama, but Matt Smith has no clue about online politics, only about projecting when it comes to who is posing as a journalist.

I’ll be waiting on a full retraction.

Fully Transparent Bloggers

This week’s edition of the SF Weekly has an article on Stealth Bloggers which argues that our work is “compromised” because some Calitics writers were paid by campaigns this last cycle – specifically, Bob Brigham and Brian Leubitz were paid by Mark Leno’s campaign. The Weekly wants to believe this is some sort of scandal, perhaps to deflect from the Weekly’s own criminal practices.

But there’s no there there. As the article notes, Brigham and Leubitz were completely honest about their affiliations. Brigham repeatedly explained that he was proud to do work for Mark Leno. Leubitz said the same. How is it stealth when there is open and prominent disclosure?

There was nothing to prevent Joe Nation and his supporters from writing their own pieces here at Calitics. A blog such as Calitics encourages such contributions – the front page has prominence, sure, but other diaries can get recommended and even promoted.

The problem is that the Weekly author, Matt Smith, wants to put blogs in the same category as journalists, who supposedly maintain neutral objectivity about what they cover. We have NEVER made such a claim to objectivity. Our biases and positions are open. That’s the real difference between us and other journalists, who hide their affiliations and biases and pretend to be objective. Smith holds up traditional journalism as pure and ideal, when it is clearly no such thing – witness their fawning support for John McCain.

There are no hidden affiliations here. Some Calitics writers, myself included, work for the Courage Campaign. Others have worked for candidates and ballot proposition supporters or opponents. And many aren’t paid by any political group at all.

Our writing is positional. You know that going in. Anyone who reads Calitics and who is shocked to know that we espouse progressive Democratic causes is either not paying attention or being intentionally misleading.

Bloggers believe that the reader is intelligent enough to come to their own opinions on the matter. We disclose our affiliations so that the reader can make up their own mind about whether to take our opinions seriously or not. Matt Smith implies an intent to deceive that simply isn’t there – it’s a dishonest article.

Finally, there’s nothing to stop someone from starting their own blog to cover California politics. We believe more bloggers should be credentialed to the CDP convention, to the state legislature, to press conferences. The more the merrier. We’re not afraid of it, no matter what the position or opinion is of the blogger.

Of course, this IS the same Matt Smith who told his readers a few weeks ago to ignore who was backing Prop 98 and focus instead on its supposed benefits. Consistency doesn’t seem to be a strength of his.