Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Faux Comment

If the comment section of a local Internet news item is the cookie jar, then the Robert Dold campaign just got caught with its hand in the cookie jar. Dold communications director, Kelly Klopp, recently dispatched an e-mail to her people, soliciting spontaneous online comments to a Daily Herald story about the 10th Congressional candidate. This is typical of the desperate maneuvers seen at campaigns during the final weeks before an election. What is atypical is the eponymous Klopp CCed the Daily Herald.

Lawl ...
Klopp acknowledged she sent the e-mail and defended the practice. "Volunteers write letters to the editors for us, put up yard signs, hand out literature - we're always encouraging supporters and volunteers to join the public debate," she said. Such volunteers also are asked to post comments on blogs and Facebook pages, Klopp said.
10th Congressional candidate urging supporters to post comments online
The Herald, it would seem, got the last laugh, soliciting some spontaneous snark from the Dan Seals campaign:
The Seals team doesn't employ such a tactic, spokeswoman Aviva Gibbs said. Seals' supporters are active enough on the Internet without prompting from the campaign, she said. "We don't encourage supporters to stack the deck (in comment sections) because we don't have to," Gibbs said. "They do it on their own."
10th Congressional candidate urging supporters to post comments online
But the Herald, doubtless recognizing they held the journalistic equivalent of a cash-cow, milked the opportunity for some ginned up editorial outrage:
Unfortunately, this type of thing is so commonplace that when someone like Klopp is caught at it, she isn't even properly embarrassed. The message for all of us, as voters and in a more general sense as consumers of information, is both sad and simple: Be discerning.
A pervasive politics of small deceits
Discerning words, true enough. But your LakeCountyEye would hasten to add that neither voters nor consumers of information of any sort are likely to be consuming online comment information. Sadly & simply, no one that matters reads online comment sections.

If Ms Klopp is blase about getting caught stuffing the cookie jar, it's because the only people who pay any bother to online comments are other campaign operatives. Savvy LakeCountyEye operatives know this, and it is demonstrated by the lack of comments on this blog. It is a waste of ink to post a comment on a political blog with expectations of helping a candidate.

The world of online commentary is a hermetically sealed universe where a coterie of commenters post under multiple aliases. Anyone reading a comment is invariably another commenter, possibly even the same commenter posting under a different alias.

Elections are won by reaching the disengaged and uninformed voting majority, and operatives are not going to reach these voters via Internet earned media. The Catch-22 of online electioneering is that those voters who consume their information from online sources -- blogs, news commentary, listservs, etc -- are not going to be swayed by online electioneering. Anyone who is swayable is the sort of voter whose utilization of the Internet does not go much beyond dialing into an AOL e-mail account -- assuming they can access the Internet at all.

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