Archive for the ‘Missteps’ Category

No clicky?

by Team Politics
Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Some ads for an Environmental Defense Fund campaign apparently does not want us to click on it!

In that whole 728×90 space, only the “Find out how they voted” button is clickable. So the rest of the ad…takes up space? There’s no chance for another kind of engagement within the ad, which is really limiting the performance, I’m sure.

She’s baaaaaaaack…

by Team Politics
Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Remember meanie Liz Becton? Well turns out her rants weren’t her first offense.

From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:00 PM
To: [SCHEDULER ONE]; Democratic Schedulers
Subject: RE: Boycott Longworth on Tuesday

For those of you who do not know, there are TWO women named “D____” who both work in the Longworth Cafeteria.

My boss and I are friends with the woman who was erroneously named in the original boycott email. She would be VERY upset if she knew her name was being sent out as the woman who was suspended.

I’ve received a snotty email from one particular scheduler who doesn’t understand the ramifications of having their name sullied by erroneous information. She wondered about my point…

Here’s a link:

Elizabeth Becton
Executive Assistant/Office Manager
Office of Congressman Jim McDermott


Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:07 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth; [SCHEDULER ONE]; Democratic Schedulers
Subject: RE: Boycott Longworth on Tuesday

Please calm down…

Office Manager/Scheduler
Office of Congressman ZZZ


From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:08 PM
To: [SCHEDULER TWO]; [SCHEDULER ONE]; Democratic Schedulers
Subject: RE: Boycott Longworth on Tuesday


Why don’t you apologize and I will.

Elizabeth Becton
Executive Assistant/Office Manager
Office of Congressman Jim McDermott


He’s arrived!

by Team Politics
Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Pete Hoekstra made a mistake yesterday:

This time Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra compared the Twitter activity in Iran to when Republicans used Twitter to express dissatisfaction over Speaker Pelosi’s decision to adjourn Congress.

“Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House,” Hoekstra tweeted from his BlackBerry today.

It’s almost exactly the same. Except there’s been five straight days of protests in Iran, foreign journalists are banned from covering the demonstrations, at least eight people have been killed, violence is widespread, protesters have been jailed, and businesses closed down early today just so hundreds of thousands of people could protest the election results at a rally.

This compared to last August when a few Republicans got on their BlackBerries and voiced their disappointment with Speaker Pelosi’s decision to adjourn Congress before taking a vote on an energy bill. They tweeted for awhile, enjoyed a ham sandwich, and then went on vacation for a month.

Well okay, that’s…pretty dumb. And now he’s a meme!

To Hoekstra is to whine using grandiose exaggerations and comparisons.

Like, say:

Tripped and fell today. Now I know how they felt on the Bataan death march.


Sneezed today. Reminded me of the influenza epidemic of 1918.

This is the best thing

by Team Politics
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Who says that Republicans are the only nuttos on the Hill? For some Democratic lunacy, look no further than the wackadoo e-mail exchange between a lobbyist type and Rep. Jim McDermott’s (D-WA) office manager ELIZABETH Becton:

An executive assistant at McBee Strategic recently learned this the hard way. A few weeks ago, the assistant e-mailed Becton seeking a meeting with McDermott and a client, JPMorgan Chase. Days later, the assistant checked back in and unfortunately began the e-mail with “Hi Liz.”

Becton curtly replied, “Who is Liz?”

When the assistant wrote back with an apology, Becton turned up the heat. “I do not go by Liz. Where did you get your information?” she asked.

The back-and-forth went on for 19 e-mails, with the assistant apologizing six times if she had “offended” Becton, while Becton lectured about name-calling.

Read the whole exchange. It’s simultaneously epic and disturbing. But seriously, if anyone ever calls me “Joey,” I will set them on fire.

“Loved it!”

by Team Politics
Monday, June 15th, 2009

From Wonkette, we are treated to a charming Michael Steele video:

Because, you see, he’s hip.

CNN Fails

by Team Politics
Monday, June 15th, 2009

Gawker sums up CNN’s hamfisted treatment of the Iranian election debacle best:

In what could be viewed as a watershed moment for social networking and the internet in general, here you have an oppressive regime with little tolerance for dissent doing everything in its power to stymie an uprising and failing miserably because of the ability of individuals to bypass the state-controlled media outlets and communicate with each another directly. To think that the very social networking tools conceived as intangible ideas by young Americans just a few short years ago in dorm rooms and basements and garages have now come to fruition as something tangible with the power to influence the course of events halfway across the world—Well, it’s kind of breathtaking.

Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz had Rick Sanchez and sportswriter Gregg Doyel on Reliable Sources for an utterly useless but incredibly ironic debate over Twitter’s relevance. To his credit Sanchez, a mildly obsessive Twitterer, sort of gets it, mentioning that he interviewed someone in Tehran on his show that he’d met on Twitter, but no one on the show seemed to grasp the fact that the Twitter was in midst of handing CNN its proverbial ass as a news source before, during and after the airing of Reliable Sources.

The video:

Incidentally, worth checking out #cnnfail and #iranelection.

Clean Coal’s unblog

by Team Politics
Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I don’t want to be a hippie here, but part of participating in social media is actually, you know, participating. A lot of orgs don’t realize this and just use their blog as another PR cannon, rather than a communication tool. Take, for example, the Factuality Blog from the site America’s Power, aka Clean Coal, aka American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

We’ll ignore the fact that a video auto-plays when you visit the site, and that when you load the blog (in an interesting pop-up that lets you stay on the site), the video continues to play, giving you a bizarro soundtrack for your blog reading.

It’s just that the blog isn’t very…bloggy.

The blog does a great job of examining clean coal technologies and explaining the organization’s stances on issues:

Located four miles south of Council Bluffs, Iowa, MidAmerican Energy’s Walter Scott Energy Center is one of the cleanest of its kind in North America.

It generates more than 1,600 megawatts of affordable electricity, which has a positive long-term economic impact on the region (a region that includes a Google data facility).

The on-site settling pond provides successful nesting sites for two endangered bird species: the piping plover and the least tern.

The facility employs over 200 people with an annual payroll of about $17.5 million. And it pays over $7 million in annual property tax.

Well written, interesting, concise. But link-less. It doesn’t even link within the organization, or to another blog post or to any other sources on the topic. So how is it different from a press release? Other than the fact that it’s on a blog, of course.

I’m not saying that every post should contain a link (or lots of them) to outside content. Certainly one of the advantages of having a blog is that it lets an organization offer its ideas to the public without depending on a journalist or shill to publish them.

But one of the keys to successful talking is listening. And blogs do this by linking to other blogs and information sources. Jeez, the only links on the first page of this blog are to the City of Douglas, WY, and a page dedicated to the Jackalope (hilarious!). Are those the only people Clean Coal is listening to?

Most importantly, when you click on the title of a post on this blog, you don’t get a permalink. Permalinks, individual links to individual blog posts, are one of the key building blocks of blogging culture. Other bloggers can’t respond very effectively to an idea, whether arguing with it or endorsing it, unless you offer easily accessible permalinks.

For example, click on the headline for this post to see our permalink, which looks like this:

Dear politicians: try not to say crazy things on video

by Team Politics
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Remember this?

So George Allen famously called Jim Webb volunteer S.R. Sidarth “macaca” twice (!) during a campaign event for his failed 2006 US Senate Race in VA. It got all over the internets, and Allen lost the race. Big time.

So now, in Iran, famous nutcase president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad is having a “macaca moment” of his own. Supporters of his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, are circulating a video of the president saying some pretty nutty stuff himself:

In the clip, sent out e-mail and on CDs, Ahmadinejad tells a top cleric, Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi Amoli, that a “light” enveloped him during his address to the U.N. General Assembly and that the crowd stared without blinking during the entire speech.

“A member of the (Iranian) delegation told me, ‘I saw a light that surrounded you,’” Ahmadinejad said. “I sensed it myself too … I felt the atmosphere changed. All leaders in audience didn’t blink for 27, 28 minutes. I’m not exaggerating when I’m saying they didn’t blink. Everybody had been astonished … they had opened their eyes and ears to see what is the message from the Islamic Republic.”

The clip was released after Ahmadinejad on Saturday denied making the comment.

Now, since we’re talking about Iran, we may have to wait a while before we see the video on YouTube, but still. You can’t deny this stuff anymore. Everyone has a camera on you at all times. Mind your P’s and Q’s, wacko/racist politicians, or you might never get elected again.

NYT’s “media blog” far from comprehensive

by Team Politics
Monday, June 8th, 2009

First things first: The New York Times’ “media blog,” The Media Decoder, isn’t really a blog at all, but rather a vehicle with which the Times links to its own articles. That said, I thought I’d have a look and see what percentage of the “media decoding” is related to online media, the internet, this “Twitter” thing I keep hearing about, etc. So I did an unscientific survey.

In the last week, The Media Decoder has published 22 posts. Of those posts, 4 were about the internet in some way (one was a programming note about the blog itself, two were links contained in “Speed Read” link-aggregation posts to stories in the Times, and one was an “end of a media era”-type piece).

So that’s…18%? And I’m being generous.

Apparently elections DO have consequences

by Team Politics
Friday, June 5th, 2009

From Wonkette, looks like Barbara Boxer is going to be having a short meeting with her direct mail folks:

You see? Boxer called her rival James Inhofe a woman! Or turned him into a woman, a la Tiresias.

Friendster, ink this!

by Team Politics
Monday, June 1st, 2009

Over at the Ignite Social Media blog, a rundown of social media tattoos. I’m not an ink guy, but I think I would rather have a tattoo of a broken heart with “Ruth” written in an ornate type across the top.

Oh man, Politico is selling tours…

by Team Politics
Friday, May 22nd, 2009

…of their newsroom. From FishbowlDC.

Tour of WJLA Studios and Politico Newsroom Sponsored by PRSA-NCC Professional Development CommitteeDate: Wednesday, May 20th
9 a.m.-10 a.m.
10 a.m.-11 a.m.

Location: WJLA Studios, 1100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209

Cost: $25 for members and $40 for non-members

Come join the Professional Development Committee as we take a tour through the WJLA-TV studios and Politico newsroom. ABC 7 Meteorologist Brian van de Graaff will be the host of the tours, as will some of his colleagues. They will be happy to answer any questions you have about the current state of the media, how the newsroom functions, or any other topic you find relevant. This is a great opportunity to see the inside of the newsroom, so we can better understand how they operate to help us in our conversations with journalists and reporters.

Starbucks is definitely in the conversation

by Team Politics
Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Simon Owens has a post over at Bloggasm (subscribe now! now!) about another huge brand stumbling through social media. Basically, Starbucks put up posters on public transit in major cities and challenged folks to be the first to tweet a picture of them. A liberal filmmaker, who was debuting an anti-Starbucks video that day, seized on the opportunity to insert an opposing viewpoint into the conversation:

On a blog post published at the anti-Starbucks website Brave New Films created, people were encouraged to take pictures of themselves in front of Starbucks stores holding signs targeted at the company’s “anti-labor practices.” These users are then told to upload these photos onto Twitpic and tweet them out to their followers using the hashtags #top3percent and #starbucks. According to the post, these are the official hashtags that were designated by Starbucks itself for those who wanted to enter its contest. Within hours, several people had followed these guidelines and there were dozens of Twitpics in front of stores across the country.

If brands want to participate in social media, they have to be willing to cede control. Used to being the captains of their own messaging fate, they now have to get used to being passengers.

In lighter news, Owens also has a post about trad journalism’s obsession with “sexting“. I learned that “1174″=”Nude club”.

Olbermann v. the blogosphere

by Team Politics
Friday, May 15th, 2009

So Wonkette, an entity that traffics almost entirely in irony, and Keith Olbermann, an entity that traffics in bizarre, sweaty sincerity, got into a fight recently. Michael Calderone at Politico sums it up.

Following CityFile’s report yesterday that Keith Olbermann’s recent three-day absence from MSNBC was due to a protest over Rachel Maddow booking Ben Affleck for the same night as him, the “Countdown” host responded in a strong statement Thursday afternoon.

But Olbermann wasn’t finished. On Thursday night, Olbermann used up seven minutes of airtime to slam blogs like CityFile, and those that followed up, Gawker and Wonkette.

Wonkette responds, fliply:

Whoo hoo, does this mean Wonkette is now “beneath contempt” in Keith Olbermann’s mind? Self-important much?

I wish this were a new media v. old media showdown, but I think it’s just a hilarious gossip-style hissy, sort of like Lindsay Lohan’s Twitter breakup with Sam Ronson. In which case, I would like this fight to continue until Ken Layne and The Olbermensch and Nick Denton and the guy from CityFile face off in a Klingon-style deathmatch, complete with Bat’leths.

Olbermann’s seven minutes:

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy


by Team Politics
Thursday, March 19th, 2009

It’s time to lay off the RNC and their tech missteps, and lean on the Democrats for overplaying their hand on the Rush Limbaugh “failure” saga.

The “I’m Sorry, Rush” form letter was very funny, but the Rush Limbaugh billboard contest is pushing it, and the finalists were not super funny:

  • Hope and change cannot be Rush’d
  • Failure is not an option for America’s future
  • We can fix America, just don’t Rush it

Who’s writing this stuff, Bruce Villanch? We have some better suggestions:

That last one is a high-functioning Salman Rushdie joke. You see, that’s what Salman Rushdie’s ex-wife, Padma Lakshmi, says when she boots people off of Top Chef…eh, whatever.

The point is that humor is great, and needs to be re-injected into politics. But these slogans are the blandest, least ambitious selections the Dems could have dredged up. And the winner is not only boring, but clunky! It’s seven words, in past tense. Play to win, Democrats!

RNC takes another schizo swing at building a web-home-site-book

by Team Politics
Thursday, March 12th, 2009

After whiffing badly on their first RFP to rebuild the GOP’s web-presence, the RNC has released a second, more-detailed document, this time with a budget ($450k total). It’s rather more fleshed-out than the first one, but still has some screwball directives:

We are looking for a design that is both appealing to new visitors and clean; with the use of white-space and comfortable spacing between sections of the site.  More specifically, while we appreciate the features and rich design of sites like and, we are inclined to favor designs like and  A couple other good sites that are less social oriented but data rich are and

So what they want is a site that is socially-oriented and “clean” like Facebook, but data-rich like We all know what Facebook looks like, this is what looks like:

Gotta love that clean design. The differences between the sites mentioned lead me to believe that the GOP’s tech team has a good idea about what they want from the site, and almost no idea how to express it. Also, is $450k a low-ball budget number for a complete overhaul that is obviously going to drag on for years?

Thanks, techPresident!

Dinga Dinga What?

by Team Politics
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Via Wired and Wonkette, a video produced by Israeli arms company Rafael (the homepage seems to be broken, check out the Wikipedia page for more info) to show at Aero India 2009, an trade show for the Indian military. And holy heck:

Quoth Blogads’ Bevin Tighe: “It’s three-and-a-half minutes but it feels like three hours.”

Go political communication! I’ve seen some tone-deaf promotions in my day, but this takes cake (or samosa or knish?)

For more on Rafael’s comm “strategy,” such as it is, check out The DEW Line.

RNC RFP for new website gives tech folks the lulz

by Team Politics
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

A few days ago, the RNC circulated a request for a proposal to rebuild their website to incorporate all the latest, greatest and trendiest components of online social media and web 2.0-ness.

“The GOP’s web aspirations are as ludicrously ambitious as they are maddeningly vague.

Chairman Steele made his tech priorities clear… ‘bottom line is if we haven’t done it — let’s do it. If we haven’t thought of it — think of it. If it hasn’t been tried — why not? If it’s going to be ‘outside the box’ — then not only keep it outside the box, but take it to someplace the box hasn’t even reached yet.’

“Some highlights from the document’s hopelessly vague and self-contradictory requirements:

‘Integrate outside products through common API’s, widgets, or iframes (examples: Kimbia fundraising, Voter Vault, Widgetbox, Ning).

Flash interfaces can often make mundane tasks exciting, and having Flash developers who understand user behavior will make the site more user-friendly.

No limitations on design; the RNC will be in on the entire process and will ensure everything is to our exact specifications.’

Oh, and did the RNC mention they want the website within 45 days, on a fixed budget? Dale Franks at The Next Right calls the GOP operatives who put the proposal out “clueless losers.” That’s being kind. The last thing any designer wants is a client who’s “in on the entire process,” throwing out buzzwords they read in some two-year-old article about the Web clipped from a newspaper.”

Why didn’t they talk with & really LISTEN to the net-savviest folks around the Republican party (Patrick Ruffini, Mindy Finn, Michael Turk, Mike Krempasky, Jon Henke, Soren Dayton or Chuck Defeo?) before sending out something this vague and unattractive to the vendors who would be able to provide them with excellent, affordable services?

From Valleywag

Obama throws down the gauntlet!

by Team Politics
Monday, March 9th, 2009

Just kidding.

He did, in a recent NYT interview, say that he “rarely” reads blogs. I honestly don’t blame him, he probably has to read a lot of stuff, being President and all. Still, I’ll be interested to hear how the left-bloggers react to this. So far none of the big dogs have weighed in.

Thanks, techPresident!


by Team Politics
Saturday, March 7th, 2009

On Facebook today:

Internet Marketing

See that? Just by looking at this ad I have been marketed to! Now I am keenly aware of a couple who had Olan Mills shots made and who are somehow involved in “Internet Marketing.”

I did end up clicking on the ad, mostly out of curiosity.

PJTV’s subscription model

by Team Politics
Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Pajamas Media shuttered the blog-advertising arm of its biz back in January, with an eye toward building its PJTV brand.

Since they can’t sell advertising, Pajamas Media has made PJTV subscription-based. Now, I’m not against publishers making money by selling subscriptions to premium content — my favorite webcomic does just that. It’s just that for sixty-odd years, television networks have been making (lots of!) money through advertising. And PJTV, is, ostensibly, television.

Weirdly PJTV subscribers don’t even get exclusive access to the most recent content? A cursory look at the page of PJTV’s most famous correspondent shows that his five most recent pieces are free to watch. We don’t get a “subscriber only” video until the sixth piece down.