Peter Jaworski of The Western Standard sent around an e-mail yesterday to a number of folks who have been especially prominent in the 2008 Canadian Federal election campaign's "blogging follies"--the outing of candidates for writings on their blog. He asked us:
"I'm beginning to get the sense that candidates being forced to resign thanks to the efforts of bloggers like yourselves is the major issue in this election. It isn't the Green Shift, it isn't any substantive policy issue; it's candidates getting busted for saying things that maybe they shouldn't have said, or putting six too many joints in their mouth on YouTube, or wondering out loud about what "really" caused 9/11 etc.
Do you agree?
And: What is the significance of all the candidates that have been forced to resign thanks to past blogging/online activities?"
Our responses can be found here.
Just to add to the material at WS, I would say that I fully agree with R. Jago's remark:
The parties should have prepared these people better. But they haven't & together with the sub-standard vetting, and the ignorance of new media, we in the blogosphere are reaping the rewards.
It won't happen next time.
In fact I am not sure we will see too many more gaffe induced resignations during the remainder of the 2008 campaign. You can already see the Party Leaders becoming more thick skinned about the on-line screw-ups of their candidates (witness Jack Layton's refusal to dump Andrew McKeever), and in any case there are only so many people left to investigate.
Also, I should point out that what you are seeing in the political sphere with all of this on-line sleuthing is only one aspect of a wider social phenomenon. If you go for a job interview, or attempt to sell something to another company, don't be surprised if the folks you are dealing with troll Youtube looking for videos of you getting drunk and whipping your top off, or search the various on-line forums for people trash-talking your product. I know because its an aspect of what I do in real life.
A mis-handled blog can be a drag on more than just your political career.
PS. If anyone knows of Tory/NDP blogging candidates that have so far evaded the blogosphere's free vetting service, please send me a few links.