Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Bloggers Who Don't Hate Bush Get Rewarded For Their Loyalty

White House Actively Pursues 'New Media' Reach Out

The Bush administration is now aggressively pursuing a 'new media' policy of engaging with conservative and pro-Iraq War bloggers and internet/satellite radio talk back hosts. The 'new media' are not sitting in with the traditional White House press corps, instead they are getting special briefings and even long meetings with President Bush himself.

Bush and his White House media wranglers are now simply tolerating the mainstream media that isn't singing their tunes. The Washington Post might get close to a million newspaper and online readers, but so what? A good slice, presumably the majority, of the WashPost readership are opposed to Bush and deeply opposed to the Iraq War. But pulling together half a dozen successful bloggers could see the Bush message reaching two or three million readers, in a far more personal and influential way than the 'straight reporting' of the Washington Post.

Plus, some bloggers who actively promote the successes of the Iraq War are read by huge audiences of serving military and their family members.

For the first time in American history, a president doesn't necessarily need the mainstream media at all. There are now so many other ways to get the message out.

With less than 3 out of 10 Americans backing him, Bush knows it can be a waste of his time trying to reach everyone, so why not just keep hold of the base, the supporters already with him?

Bloggers, in particular, are proving the best way to get that message out, as this slightly green-eyed story from the Washington Post details :

The day after his prime-time speech on Iraq, President Bush sat down for a round-table interview not with traditional White House reporters but with bloggers who focus on military issues, including two participating by video link from Baghdad.

Judging from some of the accounts of the Friday meeting, the president offered up little news. Here is what one of the 10 bloggers, Ward Carroll of Military.com, described from his notes as some of Bush's most notable comments:

• "This strategy is my strategy."

• "I'm defining a horizon of peace."

• "I don't mind people attacking me. . . . That's politics . . . but I do mind people impugning the integrity of our generals."

Still, the hour-long meeting in the Roosevelt Room offered Bush another opportunity to break through what he sees as the filter of the traditional news media, while also reaching out to the providers of a new source of information for soldiers, their families and others who follow the conflict in Iraq closely.

"More and more we are engaging in the new-media world, and these are influential people who have a big following," said Kevin F. Sullivan, the White House communications chief.

Bush told the group that, to his knowledge, it was the first time a president had met with bloggers for a chat at the White House, one of the participants wrote. The blogs represented at the meeting are generally pro-Bush and pro-military, and the ensuing reports were highly sympathetic to the president.

"At this meeting President Bush came off as more comfortable with the message than I've seen him appear on TV or in speeches," wrote Carroll, a journalist and former Navy pilot. "No deer-in-the-headlights stuff here. Truly unwavering and passionate. Facts on the ground notwithstanding, he believes the United States can win the Iraq War. And to be honest, being around him made me believe it at that moment too."

Matthew Burden, a former Army officer who blogs under the name Blackfive, raved about how Bush slapped his hand and called him "brutha."

"The President was very intelligent, razor sharp, warm, focused, emotional (especially about his dad), and genuine," Blackfive wrote. "Even more so than this cynical Chicago Boy expected. I was overwhelmed by the sincerity -- it wasn't staged."

One blogger was so stoked about the face time with Bush that he compared it to jamming with Cheap Trick. "It was that good."