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Daily Digest: Novak Discovers They Let *Anyone* Read the Internets

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, July 23 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Ha, this is a great defense from the Prince of Darkness, a.k.a. Bob Novak, about how he was pretty much solely responsible for propagating the idea that John McCain was set to pick a VP this week. Novak now suspects that he may have gotten spun by Team McCain, eager to steal some of the spotlight from "Where in the World is Barack Obama?" week. After I got the supposed scoop from a "very senior McCain aide," pleads Novak, "I just put something on the Internet." And somehow, some way, others found out about it.

  • You've heard the reports from Netroots Nation about the appearances of Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. You've read about how the whole affair carried the sense of "um, the gates have been crashed; now what?" But the New York Observer's Jason Horowitz takes us inside the truly important stuff -- the parties. Friday's trivia night had attendees wrestling with such stumpers as the names of the mayor of Pittsburgh and the chairman of the House Franking Commission, giving the whole thing a Model UN/student government vibe. (Related: some NN attendees are using a new service called MixedInk to craft a party platform to be presented to the DNC.)

  • Here's a quick guide to telling straight news coverage from opinion journalism. Straight news refers to the Speaker of the House as Nancy Pelosi as (D-CA). If you see something like (D-Beijing) after her name, then you're in the spin zone, my friends. A story ran on A1 of the Austin American-Statesman during Netroots Nation that substituted reporting for opinion. The paper has since issued an editor's apology, and the piece was rebranded as "commentary." Other gems from the front-page article: "It's plinking bass in a barrel to paint liberals as overly intellectual types incapable of having fun unless reading Noam Chomsky counts, and it sure does for them." Zing!

  • The Washington Post's Garance Franke-Ruta analyzes the Campaign from America's Future straw poll that we wrote up yesterday. Garance: "The economy may be the top worry of most Americans, but a straw poll of attendees at Netroots Nation 2008 shows that liberal bloggers and Democratic activists are looking to the environment as much as their pocketbooks."

  • Been sending emails lately to barackobama@gmail.com? We hate to break it to you, but they're not making to the inbox of the Democratic candidate, reports the New Yorker's Charles Bethea. That account is owned by one Guru Raj, a former University of Virginia student who, on a lark, registered the address in 2004 for his personal use after his own name combinations were taken. Now Guru gets dozens of email messages everyday from people offering Obama advice, criticism, and help with all his real estate needs. It's gotten to the point, he says, where he just forwards them to a new email address and then diverts them into a spam folder.

  • Quick hit: Hillary Clinton's struggle with campaign debt leaks out via Twitter.

The Candidates on the Web

  • Which of these two Frankie Valli hits better captures the media's infatuation with Barack Obama -- "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" or "My Eyes Adored You"? McCain is using a new video contest to make the case that the press's slavering over the Democratic candidate has gone too far. It's a quirky and compelling use of web video. But is it wise for McCain, whose age has come up again and again in this race, to pick two songs last popular more than thirty years ago? Besides, McCain's acting as if a presidential candidate hitting a three-pointer ("nothing but net!") isn't news. Politico's Jonathan Martin has more.

  • Barack Obama's online efforts get a lot of press, but Politicker's Jeremy P. Jacobs tries out the argument that much of what B.O. has done on the web was pioneered by now Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick during his 2006 race. Patrick has taken baby steps in carrying his online constituent outreach from the campaign to governing. There's been much speculation, in these parts and elsewhere on the Internets, over whether a President Obama would do at least that and more while in office.

  • The Campaign Finance Institute is reporting that sub-$200 contributions to the Obama campaign surged in June; those fairly low-dollar donations have made up 65% of his total $52 million haul. About a third of McCain's fundraising came in chunks of $200 or less. But there might be some good news for McCain's efforts to tap low-dollar donors -- it's the highest-ever percentage of small contributions thus far in his two-year campaign.

  • Cyrus Krohn is a former Microsoftie and Yahooligan who also put time in at Slate and MSN.com. This skilled web professional is now heading up the Republican National Committee's online efforts, and the Washington Post's Jose Antonio Vargas has a profile of Cyrus that's really worth reading from snout to tail. Cyrus on breaking the political addiction to TV ads: "The use of TV in campaigns is kind of like our dependency on foreign oil. We know we have to get off it. We know we need to find alternative energy sources. But we keep on going back to the pump."

TechCongress and Beyond

YouTube News and Politics' Steve Grove has inaugurated a video series pitting two congressional candidates against each other, both answering the very same questions side-by-side. First up: Minnesota Senate contenders Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

In Case You Missed It...

Diane Francis and Britt Blaser have posted an amazing collection of interviews with speakers and attendees from Personal Democracy Forum '08 on the evolving tandem between technology and politics. Well worth checking out.