Harvard Blogging Panel Sans Bloggers

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We
wanted to attend an event at the JFK Jr. Forum of Harvard’s JFK School
of Government tonight with the intriguing
title: "FORUM:
IRAQ, 527s, Bloggers & Battlegrounds
" so we found
ourself circling lazily in the Great White Shark we use to tool around
town,
listening
to the
Red Sox out in California while we searched for a parking space. On our
third pass we found one, right on JFK Street a couple of blocks from
the School. It was a few moments before 7.

As we hurried down the street in the gathering early autumn
gloom we heard a shout out and met up with J, of j’s
scratchpad
, from whom we had in fact learned of the event and who
was also on her way to blog it.

The panel scheduled to discuss this topic included Shelley
Cohen, editorial page editor and political columnist at the Boston Herald,
Kennedy School professor Stephen Goldsmith;
Maxine Isaacs Bush-Cheney 2000 advisor and adjunct lecturer in public policy
at the
Kennedy School; Evan Thomas, Walter F. Mondale’s press secretary and deputy
campaign manager (1983-1984) and ubiquitous uber-pundit Joe Trippi. The moderator
was
Phil Sharp, director of the Institute of Politics and ex-member of Congress from
Indiana (1975-1995).

When we arrived, we found the doors locked barred and protected
by multiple layers of uniformed and undercover security. There were Cambridge
cops all over the joint. A handwritten sign on the door read "Use other
door."

We walked down to the other doors, deeper into the Kennedy
School courtyard. Also locked. We could see the Forum through the locked
dooors.It was only half full, but there were Harvard and Cambridge Cops
all over the place, and guys with antennae growing out of their ears.
What was going on in there? Despite our knocks and plaintive looks, no
one moved to let us in.

Always up for a challenge, the Dowbrigade and his intrepid
blogging buddy j, began looking for alternative ingress. We circumnavigated
the building, catching a glimpse of the lamp-lit Charles River, and coming
up the other side of the School, facing Mt. Auburn St. As we approached
this busy street a gate was opened to allow entry of a DHL truck. Delivering
urgent diplomatic documents, no doubt. We slipped inside in its wake.

Entered the building through a mail room at the rear. Found
our way into the basement of the main building. On the stairs were posted
signs reading "Quiet! Forum in progress" so we figured we were in the
right place.

We walked up the stairs and into a couple of empty seats
like we were hurrying in from a class on the Evolution of Federal Farm
Price Support Regulations. The discussion was in full swing, such as
it was.
Half the
seats were
empty, most of the rest were filled with students or the intellectually
active elderly who frequently populate these events. We were, as far
as we could tell, the only bloggers.  Needless to say, there were
no bloggers on the panel.

Unfortunately, sneaking into the building was the most
exciting part of the entire experience.

We did get a rush when the panel agreed to a person with
a claim
we made last week
, on purely conjectural terms, that four years
of concerted registration of new voters by both parties, but particularly
the Dems, had created a segment of the electorate which was not being
registered in the opinion polls, and that therefore Kerry had a "Stealth
edge" of a few points.

Evan Thomas made the additional good point that many students
and poor voters have ONLY CELL PHONES and that without land lines are
beyond the reach of pollsters. Most are expected to vote Democratic.

They
talked about blogs for quite a bit, but Trippi was the only one who
had any idea of what he was talking about and what blogs really represent.
He caused the other panelist’s jaws to drop when he mentioned the fact
(which
all
bloggers
are no
doubt familiar with by now) that the top four bloggers combined have
more readers than the New York Times.

As one panelist said, "No wonder we feel threatened."
It is a rather remarkable statistic.  The New York Times is put
together by over a thousand workers not including the news bureaus
around the globe, and costs over a million dollars a day to produce.  Those
four bloggers work alone at their computers with no budget and two
of them even have day jobs!

Trippi did say one thing that really surprised us and
made us think. Near the end, in response to an audience question
about third parties, he predicted the rapid collapse of one of the
two major American political parties, perhaps as soon as 2008.

And
on the subject of questions, the panel took all of the questions from
the audience – EXCEPT THE DOWBRIGADE’S.  We were standing at the
microphone for the last 30 minutes of the event, and were standing
there still when the moderator thanked us all and sent us off into
the chilly
Cambridge night to watch he Vice-Presidential debate or the Yankees
game, or, in the case of the Dowbrigade, both.

And so we were marginalized, once again. We are sure
they recognized us as a blogger, and avoided asking for our question
for just that reason. Those old-line media guys sure are paranoid.
We were just going to ask when they planned to admit the blatant sham
of "objective"
journalism and apologize to the nation for 50 years of political pandering
and prestidigitation. (Actually, we were going to ask which candidate
would get a boost at the polls as the result of a catastrophic terrorist
attack inside the United States between now and the election).

So there you have it. A panel on Blogging without any
Bloggers on it, which tried to lock out the only bloggers who tried
to attend, and refused to recognize them when the crashed the party.
The Revolution will not be televised, but it will be blogged, and these
guys will be the first to go.

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