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The Demise of Howard Dean.

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  • The Demise of Howard Dean.

    Some of you think 21st Century politics in America is about "issues." The "issues" are bread and circus material for the real business at hand.


    Here's the link.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/...1152741,00.html

    Here's the piece:

    Pre-emptive strike on the Dean machine
    Howard Dean's online campaign threatened to sideline traditional Washington powerbrokers. No wonder they went on the attack, writes Vince Stehle

    Vince Stehle
    Friday February 20, 2004
    The Guardian

    The flu season is just about over for the year. As bad as it was, this year's outbreak failed to reach the epidemic proportions predicted by the overheated media coverage. Indeed, maybe it was the urgent warnings of news publications and 24-hour cable broadcasters that prompted people to be more vigilant in preventing the disease from spreading further.

    In much the same way, Dean fever is also all but extinguished in the current political season, as he withdrew from the presidential race after coming a poor third in the Wisconsin primary.

    But before Mr Dean disappears from the political stage altogether, it is important to understand what happened to his campaign, because here again it appears that the media played a significant role in driving Dean fever from the body politic.

    The Dean campaign, like no other campaign in history, was able to quickly amass a following by employing the new organising tools of the internet. Tapping new online communities through the effective use of internet technology and working in conjunction with the activist powerhouse, Moveon.org, and upstart Meetup.com, it was quickly able to reach an ever-expanding network of supporters.

    In the jargon of web marketers, the Dean campaign was a classic viral marketing campaign. It spread rapidly - like a virus - by delivering a compelling message to prospective supporters, who in turn forwarded email copies to their friends and colleagues.

    Democratic activists, hungry for the sharp rhetoric Mr Dean was serving up, flocked to his campaign: first by connecting online through the campaign's elaborate network of websites, then off-line in hundreds of meetings across the country and finally at packed campaign rallies that had the air of rock concerts.

    The campaign was also the first to effectively harness the internet for large-scale fund-raising success, to a degree that it challenged the fundamental principles of campaign finance.

    Most importantly, the Dean campaign demonstrated the power of an intelligent network, not just to expand and pay for itself but to actually perform the vital functions of the campaign. More than any other campaign, it devolved critical campaign tasks to its burgeoning network of supporters.

    But like a virus, the Dean campaign also represented a fundamental threat to the health of powerful forces in Washington - the national political media and the city's professional political establishment.

    Its rapid rise, independent of the anointing touch of these two pillars of political power, threatened both institutions. Consciously or subconsciously, the political elite understood that their role in providing expert guidance to the vast electorate would have been undermined if the Dean campaign had succeeded.

    Political consultants and fundraisers would see their influence wane if candidates could tap their networks for volunteer labour rather than paying millions of dollars in consulting fees.

    Campaign fundraisers recognise that their jobs are in peril if politicians no longer need them to provide most of their funds. And political reporters have every reason to fear that voters will cease to take their guidance seriously when they are able to find commentary that is equally compelling on campaign websites and from independent blogs.

    The political press and the Washington campaign consulting industry recognised that Howard Dean posed a grave danger to their position and they responded with a fierce campaign to undermine and discredit his message.

    The first major shot was fired back in June 2003 when Meet the Press presenter Tim Russert subjected Mr Dean to a withering interrogation that left many viewers doubting the candidate's abilities. Mr Russert peppered Mr Dean with queries about the exact number of US troops in Iraq and how many active duty troops were in the military at that time.

    Mr Dean's ballpark answers - which were well within the mark - were met with a ticking off for failing to be more precise. "As commander in chief, you should know that," Mr Russert scolded.

    There are countless examples of harsh media coverage. Dean partisans have devoted an entire website to criticising and debunking the stories filed by New York Times reporter Jodi Wilgoren, and taken as a whole, coverage of Mr Dean was far more negative than other primary contenders.

    In 2003, only 49% of all on-air evaluations of Mr Dean were deemed positive. The rest of the democratic field collectively received 78% favourable coverage by network news teams at ABC, CBS and NBC, according to a survey of conducted by the non-partisan Centre for Media and Public Affairs.

    It got so bad by the end of January that the Columbia Journalism Review's online political monitor called the media to task. The Review's campaign desk stated that it was no Dean booster, "but we do give two hoots when the press singles out one candidate for the kind of mauling and piling on by exaggeration and distortion that Dean has endured in the past week".

    In the end, it is hard to know why Mr Dean's erstwhile supporters shifted their allegiance to other candidates. For most of them, getting George Bush out of the White House was more important than getting Howard Dean into the White House. And if the constant drone of media reports suggested that Mr Dean was unelectable, it stands to reason that they would look for candidates that might have a better chance of prevailing.

    It is probably fair to concede that Mr Dean contributed to his own demise, insofar as he failed to make adjustments in his campaign when it was clear that some of his statements and tactics were meeting with such unrelentingly bad press. Mr Dean was fond of saying that he did not look at the polls before he spoke. But he was reckless not to look at the videotape after he spoke.

    The point is not that individual reporters were involved in some sort of vast conspiracy to deny Mr Dean the nomination. Rather, they instinctively sought to marginalise him because they understood that his success could undermine their role in shaping political debate. In internet terms, the dynamic is known as disintermediation. But most people call it "cutting out the middleman".

    The lesson of the Dean implosion is not that internet-based campaigns are inherently weak, but that the combined force of traditional media outlets and the Washington political establishment working in concert are still strong enough to contain the new form of political organising.

    The viral force of the Dean campaign may be subsiding in this electoral cycle. But like other viruses, it has not gone away for good. And there is no way of knowing what it will look like, or how powerful it will be, next time it appears.

    · Vince Stehle is a director of the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network in San Francisco, a technology support group for non-profit organisations.

  • #2
    I'd like to start my own web site/movement called any one but that asshole bush.com. Think it'll work? :P
    "They misunderestimated me."
    Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000


    "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004


    "If you're sick and tired of the politics of cynicism and polls and principles, come and join this campaign."
    -Hilton Head, S.C., Feb. 16, 2000

    Gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn't it?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by matt75@Feb 21 2004, 03:58 PM
      I'd like to start my own web site/movement called any one but that asshole bush.com. Think it'll work? :P
      if you have Mandy Moore as a spokeswoman, you'll go far.
      Are you on the list?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by matt75@Feb 21 2004, 03:58 PM
        I'd like to start my own web site/movement called any one but that asshole bush.com. Think it'll work? :P
        Did you read the article
        Un-Official Sponsor of Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist

        Comment


        • #5
          I was on the grassy knoll.

          And no, Lazy, he didn't read the article.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by pgrote@Feb 21 2004, 04:35 PM
            I was on the grassy knoll.

            I was in the sewer.
            Un-Official Sponsor of Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist

            Comment


            • #7
              Anybody who couldn't tell the Mad How's meltdown was a contract hit is from Peter Pan territory.
              And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

              -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by pgrote@Feb 21 2004, 04:35 PM
                I was on the grassy knoll.

                And no, Lazy, he didn't read the article.
                patrick:

                If you are hinting that this smacks of conspiracy theories, I would not demur. The author himself says this:

                >>The point is not that individual reporters were involved in some sort of vast conspiracy to deny Mr Dean the nomination. Rather, they instinctively sought to marginalise him because they understood that his success could undermine their role in shaping political debate. In internet terms, the dynamic is known as disintermediation. But most people call it "cutting out the middleman".<<

                There is a political class which crosses party lines, includes the media, labor and corporate lobbyists, and represents entrenched interests that often converge (despite the rhetoric about differences on the so-called issues).

                No conspiracy theory in that.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by King in KC@Feb 21 2004, 05:15 PM
                  No conspiracy theory in that.
                  It was a joke.

                  Lazy got it. :P

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lazydaze+Feb 21 2004, 04:28 PM-->
                    QUOTE(lazydaze @ Feb 21 2004, 04:28 PM)

                  • #11
                    Originally posted by matt75+Feb 21 2004, 09:13 PM-->
                    QUOTE(matt75 @ Feb 21 2004, 09:13 PM)
                    Originally posted by [email protected] 21 2004, 04:28 PM

                  • #12
                    Well, let me see. I'm going to guess that the article has something to do with the "liberal media" working in concert with the DNC to make Dean look bad because they all got together and decided that he couldn't beat Bush. Is that kind of close to the gist?
                    "They misunderestimated me."
                    Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000


                    "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004


                    "If you're sick and tired of the politics of cynicism and polls and principles, come and join this campaign."
                    -Hilton Head, S.C., Feb. 16, 2000

                    Gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn't it?

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Not even close.
                      And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

                      -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Originally posted by pgrote+Feb 21 2004, 05:20 PM-->
                        QUOTE(pgrote @ Feb 21 2004, 05:20 PM)

                      • #15
                        Originally posted by Damtoft@Feb 21 2004, 04:39 PM
                        Anybody who couldn't tell the Mad How's meltdown was a contract hit is from Peter Pan territory.

                        Comment

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