Washington Babylon — April 15, 2008, 8:29 am

Bloggers and Double Standards

I agree that Barack Obama’s remarks about Pennsylvania voters, however badly stated, have been hyped out of proportion by the media, the G.O.P., and Hillary Clinton. The Daily Show explains it best:

<embed FlashVars=’videoId=166074′ src=’http://www.thedailyshow.com/sitewide/video_player/view/default/swf.jhtml’ quality=’high’ bgcolor=’#cccccc’ width=’332′ height=’316′ name=’comedy_central_player’ align=’middle’ allowScriptAccess=’always’ allownetworking=’external’ type=’application/x-shockwave-flash’ pluginspage=’http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer’></embed>

What I can’t understand is the equally hysterical criticism of Mayhill Fowler, the blogger for the Huffington Post’s OffTheBus.net who originally reported Obama’s remarks, made at a campaign fundraiser.

As Marc Cooper, editorial coordinator of OffTheBus.net put it, “It was indeed a fund-raiser to which the press was not invited. Or if you wish, it was closed to press. Therefore it wasn’t on or off the record. Off the record is when journalists consensually agree to witness or hear something on the condition they not report it…Most if not all press was kept out of the room but Mayhill was invited in. She was under no obligation not to report.”

Fowler, whose presence at the fundraiser was known to Obama’s staff, did nothing other than report what she saw and heard. Would those now attacking her be doing the same if she’d reported controversial remarks made by John McCain at one of his fundraisers? And do we really want to accept the principle that candidates for the president should be able to block public scrutiny of their fundraising events?

Fowler did the right thing, no matter how dumb the debate that ensued.

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