Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #1 - The Senate Race

Climbing smokestacks replaced kissing babies and the roller coaster of the 2008 Senate race bucked, jostled, threatened to pitch an incumbent to the turf but finally came to rest exactly where expected.

The Democrats rolled out the usual clown car with the usual menagerie of pretenders. Former newsman Dale Cardwell sounded like a Republican and performed throwback stunts from the era of flagpole sitting. Young Rand Knight seemed to model his leap into politics after Ron Paul with fanatics frantically frisking the internet for any mention of their man. Josh Lanier drove around in his jeep collecting tip jars and channeling Kinky Friedman. Former Dekalb CEO Vernon Jones played footsie with everyone by putting up non-descript "Vernon for Georgia" billboards which overnight morphed into "Vernon for Senate" placards. And no one knew what to make of Maggie Martinez who didn't seem to understand Puerto Rico is not a state.

All that was lacking was an establishment candidate.

Enter Jim Martin.

Martin was the top vote getting non-winner (in some circles known as first loser) for the Democrats in 2006. He gathered a staggering 42% of the vote in his bid for Lieutenant Governor and in an era where the top of the ticket was receiving 38%, some saw an oasis of hope. Most saw a shimmering reflection of the sky better known as a mirage.

It was inevitable that Martin would weed out the pretenders and just as predicted by the big wigs in the state party, he began to draw money.

With the Obama wave building, the possibility of a 60 member Democratic Senate and incumbent Saxby Chambliss riling the blood of the deficit hawks, Martin suddenly mattered.

Money poured into Georgia from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and when polls showed Chambliss in real danger of being booted, the Republican counterpart responded in kind.

Commercials flowed like rivers. Sunday football games were no longer safe havens from the madness. Car lots in south Georgia could not hawk their latest deal of the century. The political money had sucked the tv teat dry.

TV and the madness stirred by the frenetic Libertarian Allen Buckley proved just enough to push Martin and Chambliss into a runoff.

Georgia, wracked by electoral convulsions for over a year, endured one more month of whispers and whip lash. The political junkies, the jones never fully satisfied, predicted Obama visits (didn't happen) and Palin visits (did happen) all the while casting eyes towards a trial in Alaska and a circus in Minnesota. As reality and the possibility of the DTs set in, the possibility of a grand finale faded.

Martin could never climb the final hill and Chambliss' people finally came home. The incumbent Republican won in a whitewash.

The longest election year in memory finally ended. Democrats were left to ruminate on what was gained and what could have been gained. Republicans wiped their brows with relief that the breakwater they worked so hard to build held back the wave that wiped many of their brothers and sisters out to sea.

Quiet now covers Georgia as the players, the poseurs and pushers leave the political earth fallow. But after the hangovers fade and the wheels once again beg for grease, the furrows will be turned again. After all, 2010 is just around the corner.

Photo courtesy of Joeff Davis and Creative Loafing


Rusty said...

This has been a great series and I appreciate you writing it. All the stories were good choices.

One story not included that IMO was worthy was the coverage of the Atlanta tornado on the internets.

Dave Coustan and others gave first-hand accounts of the Flatiron in East Atlanta being hit on Twitter. Flickr photos and blog posts eventually forced commercial media to pay attention to areas they paid little mind to at first (if you just watched WSB, you might have thought the tornado was isolated to the Cotton Mill). Several clean-up efforts were organized there. Etc. etc. etc.

Warms the cockles of a social media douchebag's heart...

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty annoyed that my forced "departure" from Peach Pundit has been overlooked in Best/Worst of Georgia Politics 2008. Hmmppph... not to mention my ATL tornado package that garnered 35K views on YT alone. Double Hmmmph. And a Bah Humbug too.

Anonymous said...

2006 the results were 38% for Taylor and 42% for Martin, but hey, what's a little inaccuracy here and there?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, great series...

I still awaken each morning wondering, is it over..is it really over? A cup of coffee and non-tsunami of e-mail begging me to VOTE! are the signs that it is.

If there was room for for one more, I would have picked-You're Certifiable and your running for office! We had lots of crazy to go around and it was fun to watch-well most times...

Thanks again..

Amber Rhea said...

It's hard to come up w/ top 10 lists - for me anyway. I always feel like I'm forgetting something. Mainly because I have a tendency to have only the most recent stuff fresh in my mind.

I agree w/ Rusty and Grayson that those two stories were also big ones... so maybe a top *12* blog stories of the year is more like it!

Overall great series.

I might do one of my own - if I can remember 10 things!

griftdrift said...

" what's a little inaccuracy here and there?"

Fine. I was a point off. Go get some holiday cheer, you nit.

Anonymous said...

The only reason I felt like bringing that up is, well I hate the holidays and have no cheer, but really, going from a four point to six point spread is when the difference becomes statistically significant.

Also, because if blogs have some sort of journalistic standard, numerical accuracy in election results (especially on a political blog) is more than essential. If we just mess up or, I'm guessing that you didn't remember the exact result which is fine, then Andre's transgressions can't be as big a story, because we have lowish standards.

griftdrift said...

That is such utter bullshit.

There's a big difference between me misremembering two numbers by one point each and publishing a story accusing a state party of trying to twist the arm of one of its most powerful constituencies and have it turn out to be 100% false.

And if you claim you can't tell the difference then I think your motivations are pretty transparent and I'm pretty sure my readers understand exactly what is going on.

And if you are sock puppeting which I also strongly suspect well then that pretty much tells the rest of the story.

Anonymous said...

Doing neither.

What I'm saying is, we are either held to the same standards as the industry we are mimicking or not.

Let me try to break it down... Suppose you covered X (whatever it may be). There is something, Y, which is what, at the end of the day X is about. Y is not accurately reported. Either that is acceptable or not.

So if it is acceptable that you were close, then the standards by which you judge others in covering X has to be different from what the standards are of the industry we are trying to improve.

That industry happens to be news media and I think blogs can do a tremendous amount of good in reforming a dinosauric industry. However, that industry still provides standards which we use as some metric. And in that metric, it is unacceptable to publish something that is misremembered and it is unacceptable to print a false story. It is also a false story to say one candidate did better than he did and another did worse than he did. One is certainly more egregious, but they are both acceptable or unacceptable.

Sara said...

Here is the difference, for whoever the anonymous moron is who has suddenly decided to assume the mantle of blog police:

The thing that was wrong in Andre's post made the story he published completely false. The whole thing, all of it, the point behind writing a post about alleged pressure coming form the party...false. He created a story where there was none, predicated on falsehood.

The two statewide vote totals that were off by a single digit in this post do not alter the point or truth of this story in the slightest. The post is about the GA Senate race, and only tangentially references that Martin had run ahead of the top of the ticket in 2006. OK, so Martin got 42% instead of 43% in the LG race. OK, so Taylor got 38% instead of 37% in the Guv race. Big Fucking Deal. The point remains--Martin appeared to be a little more popular statewide than the Democratic standardbearer in 2006, which gave Democrats a reason to support him in the primary and hope that perhaps he might have a snowball's chance in the general. Whether he outperformed Taylor by 6 points or 4 doesn't really matter at all in the point of the blog post, which oh yeah, was not about the 2006 elections at all.

Only someone who really doesn't understand journalistic ethics at all would try to argue that the two mistakes are comparable.

griftdrift said...

Mr. Anonymous,

To be brutally honest. You are an idiot. Or if your not idiot and you are just being dishonest.

You are saying that what amounts to a typo is the same as completely making up a false story?

Are you fucking kidding me?

I have always issued corrections. I've issued two in the past ten days. And guess what? Unlike the person you seem intent on comparing me to, I didn't have to be dragged kicking and screaming into some passive voice, half assed retraction.

I've always been very open and clear about my standards and I'll put my accuracy and acceptance of responsibility for mistakes over the past two years up against any scrutiny anyone wishes.

As for you? I hope Santa brings you a book on reading comprehension for your stocking.

Anonymous said...

You are saying that what amounts to a typo is the same as completely making up a false story?

I didn't say that, I said one is more egregious than the other.

What I am saying is that you are either accurate or not.

What separates real journalism from not-real-journalism is an unflinching adherence to accuracy.

Just to let you know, journalism industry where its students fail classes for misspelling one person's name. This is an industry where misprinting the results of an election could conceivably get you fired. I could go on...

Look, the point I was making at the start isn't that you have no credibility or that this challenges your overall integrity (I don't think Andre has any), what I was attempting to say is that a story is accurate or not. I'm sure we can imagine the indignation blogs get if and when news sources stop being concerned with accuracy and don't check figures and results etc. and start being more concerned with the overall idea of the story. If you (and at this point I should say "you" means bloggers-at-large) aren't going to go back and check what you write and demand complete accuracy then don't ever expect to be compared in the same breath to newspapers or traditional media. Until blogs are at the same standards (and above those standards, which is where I truly desire blogs to be), then blogs will remain in the little league.

Meanwhile the Media, for all its faults and lack of vision, will remain the standard bearer. Blogs will just remain a sideshow.

That's what I'm trying to say, either we are better than the Media, or not. Accuracy is what determines what our standards are.

Now that I've said all that I should say this is just my opinion and I don't want to come across as the blog police which I've know done. I truly do apologize for that and my tone.

griftdrift said...

Well since we're going to talk about the journalism industry, let's look at a more accurate comparison.

If the AJC is one point off on an election result from two years ago, then there is a correction on Page 2 three days later and absolutely no one notices.

If they print a false story, it is a front page story, people are fired and every publication in town is talking about it for weeks.

You are the one that brought up the comparison. Not me.

And you want to preach to me about those paragons of accuracy known as the traditional media? How many corrections do they issue a week? Let's not pretend the are great ivory towers that do no wrong.

I make mistakes too. My corrections are printed right on my front page damned near in real time for everyone to see.

Just like what happened here. I put up the wrong figure. You pointed it out. It was corrected. And unlike those paragons of virtue, I let everyone in the world see the process that caused the correction. Including your criticism and my editiorial justifications.

And as far as standards go. I'll put mine up against anyones. Absolutely anyones.

I accept your apology but I ask that you be a little more careful in casting aspersions in the future.

Anonymous said...

I'm not making the Media out to be perfect at all. At all. I mean, at all.

What I was more hoping to suggest (and not to in anyway question your standards) is that the blogosphere (I hate that word) has a long way to go to establishing credibility. It does, let's just say it. To be held in high regard is going to require the bloggers to exceed the standards the Media holds themselves to. That's all. I was just trying to bring up some examples of the standards real journalists hope to instill in their brethren to bolster my argument, weak as it may be.

My attempt to then offer an interpolation on the standards for Us and the Andre story clearly failed.

Amber Rhea said...

OMG Anonymous is fucking ridiculous.

There's nit picking and then there's this. Give me a break.

Word verification: piasizer. Ha.

Anonymous said...

That guy gives anonymous a bad name.