Dan Bartlett, former White House communications director, won’t keep many friends in the blogosphere after this interview in Texas Monthly. When asked about the relationship between the Bush White House and conservative bloggers, Bartlett responded that, in the words of Forrest Gump, the two were just like peas and carrots. Bartlett bragged that bloggers allowed the message to get through unfiltered — very unfiltered  (via TPM ):
What about the blogs?We had to set up a whole new apparatus to deal with the challenges they pose. Are they real journalists? The Washington Post, for example, has journalists who are now bloggers. Do you treat them as bloggers? Do they get credentials?
Let’s think of it as a practical matter. If one of those journalists-turned-bloggers, Chris Cillizza, e-mails you to say he needs an interview, and at the same time one of the Post’s print reportersâ€”say, Dan Balzâ€”e-mails you and says he needs an interview, and you can do only one . . .
Because the print edition of the Post has more of an impact?
Because Balz is on multiple platforms. He’s booked more easily on television. He’s read by more people. He influences people a bit more. Now, the question might not be as much Chris versus Dan as maybe, “Is it Dan Balz or one of the guys at [the conservative blog] Power Line?”
Yeah, or what if [conservative blogger] Hugh Hewitt called?
That’s when you start going, “Hmm . . .” Because they do reach people who are influential.
Well, they reach the president’s base.
That’s what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.
First off, Texas Monthly doesn’t know much if they think Hugh Hewitt is just a conservative blogger. He’s a syndicated talk show host on Salem Radio with an audience of millions — which is why the White House engages Hugh, not because of his blog. If Bartlett doesn’t know that much (he doesn’t correct TM), then it begins to explain why the Bush administration has failed so miserably at getting their message out to anyone, let alone the blogosphere.
Well, exactly. But you know what? A while ago, I attributed to Bill Clinton, the ability to jump in front of a lynch mob… one that was after him, and convince them it was a parade…. one he was leading. Well, that’s what Bartlett’s trying to do here. Of that point, I take this as confirmation, that Ed’s seeing this, too;
As far as regurgitation and efficiencies of communication, we all wish Bartlett would have succeeded as well as he apparently thinks he did. Most of us have begged for more interaction at the White House, and have received little more than e-mails with speech transcripts.
Well, most of us didn’t even get that. Certainly not the second and third line blogs, such as BitsBlog through those years. So, that being the level of communications, how does Bartlett justify his claim that, essentially, the white house was leading the right side of the sphere around by the snout? All of the first circle I’ve spoken with on the subject tell me their access to the WH has been limited at best… and Ed confirms it in his piece, here.
The only logical conclusion as to the conformity of the right side of the web to what the WH was selling was that what the WH was doing was the right thing, and the right side identified their actions as such… and simply spoke their mind… not because the WH was selling them anything and certainly not because the WH told the right side to sell a given point to their readership. Sorry, that story simply doesn’t wash with the facts, nor does it mesh with any empirical evidence that I’ve seen or heard of.
Bartlett in recent days strikes me as someone in self-justification mode… and certainly one who wants to sell books. I suppose he’ll be selling a chunk of them to the left…. Who, it should be noted, have been making a lot of noise about how the right siders were in Bush’s vest pocket… all based on Bartlett’s comments… and a situation he takes credit for. Ppppfffffttt. Nonsense.
He may have had a couple such bloggers, but I should think I’d have heard about such increased access he speaks of, years ago, and from the bloggers themselves. But, no. Nary a peep.
I’m forced by that to consider Bartlett’s position suspect. And that means, also, that the crowing that the left siders are doing, based on Bartlett’s self-justification is MORE than suspect.
(Edit: Bit repaired broken link)