On Tuesday this week Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty held a reception for us and several other local conservative bloggers at the governor’s residence in St. Paul. Tomorrow’s Star Tribune carries an article by political reporter Mark Brunswick trying to make something of it: “Bloggers, Pawlenty hobnob.” Brunswick omits any reference to the date of the event so that it’s unclear his story is not exactly hot news. Brunswick writes:
Some members of the new media found out this week that they like the old idea of schmoozing with people in power.
A group associated with the largely conservative Northern Alliance group of bloggers and radio commentators met earlier this week for cocktails, appetizers and political talk with Gov. Tim Pawlenty at the governor’s residence in St. Paul.
Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said the governor extended the invitation to the group because of an interest in the influence of what has been billed as the landscape of “new media,” such as Internet chat rooms and political Web logs, also called blogs. Between 30 and 35 people attended.
“Radio stations and Web-based journalists and editorialists don’t have the same opportunity to be around the Capitol and report on what’s going on, so it’s a chance for the governor to hear from them,” McClung said. “We think bloggers are a legitimate source of news and information.”
McClung said those invited were culled from groups associated with the local conservative blog Powerline, which received acclaim for its role criticizing CBS’ now-debunked report on memos related to President Bush’s National Guard service. McClung said there was no intent to exclude local bloggers who might be critical of Pawlenty or have more left-leaning or progressive points of view.
“I think you could say there is a mix within those people that were doing blogs,” McClung said. “They would say they have a variety of viewpoints. But they do kind of move in the same crowd.”
Reviews of the get-together were universally positive.
The posting on the blog Kennedy vs. The Machine, for instance, made no bones about its enthusiasm over Pawlenty’s invitation to those of a particular political bent, ensuring that it is likely to pay dividends.
“The governor — or someone on his staff — is to be commended for fostering goodwill among the center-right blogging community,” the posting said. “These are the folks who will provide cover during the looming special legislative session during which Pawlenty’s ‘no new tax’ pledge will be put to the test like never before.”
Captain Ed at the blog Captain’s Quarters was among many who commented favorably on Pawlenty’s potential as a candidate for national office.
“If you like to handicap presidential primary candidates, I’d suggest including Tim Pawlenty in your calculations,” he posted afterward, remarking as well about being struck by Pawlenty’s “youth and fitness.”
At least one nonconservative blogger wasn’t surprised by the invitation list — and by who was not included.
The owner of Mnleftyliberal accused the local conservative blogs of getting caught up in the heady world of digital age punditry.
“These bloggers are so intent on being the next Powerline, they are willing to jump on it, hiding behind the fact they are not ‘real news’ or their anonymity,” said the owner, who identifies himself only as Trillin.
The cost of the event was less than $200, McClung said. After a reporter inquired about the event, McClung said Pawlenty decided to pay the tab out of his own pocket. McClung said the event turned out well for Pawlenty.
“They liked him going in,” McClung said. “They had a chance to talk to him and get to know him, and they liked him even better after meeting him.”
I find this story strange in a number of respects, but I’ll limit my observations to the following. It appears that Brunswick did not bother to contact anyone who attended the event other than the governor’s press secretary. The quotes from others who attended the event are lifted from their sites. Brunswick also does not appear to have bothered to ascertain who attended the event. If he had, he might have found out that several bloggers who attended the event had absolutely nothing to do with us.
As for the quote from the anonymous left-wing blogger who identifies himself as Trillin — “These bloggers are so intent on being the next Powerline, they are willing to jump on it, hiding behind the fact they are not ‘real news’ or their anonymity” — I would have appreciated Brunswick’s assistance with a translation. Isn’t it unusual for the paper to run an incoherent quote? I wonder especially where “Trillin” gets off adopting a tone critical of the anonymity of those named in Brunswick’s story. Is this some kind of a joke?
I have a deep secret for Brunswick based on pure speculation — but I think Brunswick might have been able to persuade me to share it with him if he’d bothered to ask. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that the governor’s reception might have had something to do with a widely shared, not entirely admiring regard for Brunswick’s employer.
JOHN adds: We could tabulate multiple levels of cluelessness, but let’s just make one more point instead: with all due respect to us, the bloggers of the Northern Alliance (full disclosure: they’re all our pals) are hardly waiting in line to be the “next Power Line.” Captain Ed is one of the web’s most popular bloggers, and very nearly brought down Canada’s Liberal government earlier this week. (There’s a story Brunswick might have looked into.) Mitch Berg’s Shot in the Dark, while it focuses more than we do on local events, is the best blog that most people don’t know about, and also has, I think, the coolest name of any blog. The Fraters guys run America’s funniest blog, if you don’t count Scott Ott, and if you want to read a site written by someone who actually knows something, King Banaian’s SCSU Scholars is a good place to start, inasmuch as King is the chairman of a college economics department. So, if you don’t already know them, check them out.
SCOTT adds: I wish I had thought to tip our hat to our Northern Alliance friends whose whose company we shared at the reception. While we’re at it, let me add that among the non-Northern Alliance bloggers in attendance were two graduating high school seniors who deserve a story themselves — the estimable Grant Anderson (off next fall to the University of Wisconsin-Madison) and James Hohmann (off to Stanford University). They are the proprietors of the excellent Patriot Blog.