Thursday, August 19, 2004

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Yeah, this'll probably need to go into the revised blog paper

Should Henry Farrell and I revise our blog paper -- and of course we'll be revising it -- Wednesday's White House Briefing by Dan Froomkin in will probably have to be cited.

Why? I'm glad you asked:

Jimmy Orr, the White House's Internet guru, wants the White House Web site to get bloggier.

"We're trying to make it more bloggish," he says in an interview. "People need to see that we're on the site and we're listening to what they have to say."

So, he says: "We're going to try -- as questions come in, and as people have comments about the events of the day -- to be more proactive."

Blogs -- short for Web logs -- are all the rage these days. And while some people use them for such things as chronicling their sex lives, they have more significantly emerged as a potent vehicle for news and views on the Internet.

Two of the most seminal features of blogs are interaction with readers and immediacy. And the White House Web site under Orr, an enthusiastic 37-year-old press office staffer, has already taken some steps in that direction.

White House Interactive is generally updated daily with a new e-mail question from the public and an answer, typically from someone fairly high up in the White House staff....

A while back, Orr was his own guest on "Ask the White House" One questioner raised the topic of blogging. And it turns out Orr's a fan.

"Bloggers are very instrumental. They are important. They can lead the news. And they've been underestimated," he wrote.

"Here's what the bloggers do. They notice something in the news or something they've observed that maybe the 'traditional' media hasn't covered or isn't spending much time on. But they think it is significant. So, they give the story a second life (or first). And they talk about it. And others talk about it. Before you know it, it is leading the news."

In his online appearance, Orr mentioned a few blogs he reads regularly. He e-mailed me a more extensive list:

The Note, from ABC News

Noted Now, also from ABC News

Andrew Sullivan


•'s Best of the Web Today


White House Briefing (You're reading it.)

James Lileks

And he's not the only one in the White House who reads blogs, he says. Far from it.

"They're important here," he says. "I can tell you that a lot of people read them."

Note to White House officials (and others): Don't forget to nominate your favorites for's 2004 Best Blogs - Politics and Elections Readers' Choice Awards.

Bloggers are rightly accused of excessive navel-gazing, and according to the Washington Times' Chris Baker, blogs "have been the domain primarily of amateur political pundits, conspiracy theorists and pseudo-experts on any number of topics." Still, it is worth observing that both Orr's analysis of blogs -- as well as his reading preferences -- seem to buttress the arguments made in our blog paper.

[Hey, what about that WaPo contest?--ed. Readers should feel free to knock themselves out.]

posted by Dan on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM


Even the Federal Reserve just got 'bloggier'.

posted by: Monte on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

Jimmy Orr should immediately add Roger L. Simon ( to his list. Many of his loyal readers voted for Al Gore in 2000. Simon himself was once a radical leftist, and his own son is gay. These people are now firmly in the Bush camp and are extremely hostile toward John Kerry. Most of the commentators, including myself, were born and raised as fervent Democrats. They rightfully perceive Kerry to be lying flip flopper who will say anything to get elected.

posted by: David Thomson on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

I'm glad to see Orr exposes himself to wide array of views.

posted by: praktike on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

You mean someone at the White House reads?

posted by: Jim Dandy on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

Those are all institutional blogs! Come'on

posted by: Carleton on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

Hope you've all seen the "Onion" spoof of only a few weeks past. No link, just his friendly heads-up - do your own work.

posted by: Tommy G on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

I learned yesterday that the Kerry Campaign actively uses "independent" bloggers to supply much of its blog material. The editor of "The Point" is Peter Daou, himself a blogger turned political payroll recipient. Daou also is the nightshift editor of the Rapid Response blog that offers Kerry rebuttals to Bush Campaign ads.

The Kerry blogs even have guest blogging from outsiders. Furthermore, I read on many blogs from the left point of view that they hold close personal relationships with the staff that runs the Kerry blogs. Atrios, The Carpetbagger Report and Daily Kos have all been cited.

posted by: Brennan Stout on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

While Lileks should be read by anyone who values good writing, and retro art, music, and attitudes, it bothers me that this a big stop at the Bush White House. He's essentially the Garrison Keillor of the far right -- brilliant at what he does (and did I mention, an exceptional writer?), very much in touch with the history of his region and archaic art forms, but, um, the politics are in Little Green Footballs territory.

But then, I expect Gnat could teach the Bush administration a lot about how to work and play well with others.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

> the politics are in Little Green Footballs
> territory

They read Lileks so that they feel that they are centrists.

posted by: goethean on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

It's exactly Baker's "amateur political pundits, conspiracy theorists and pseudo-experts" who's voices (?) I search for in blogs. IMO, these are the informed voters who have an earnest, self-interested stake in the debate, and are not just delivering product for consumption.

I can buy mainstream bias anywhere.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 08.19.04 at 12:33 AM [permalink]

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