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Bloggers RoundTable and Think Progress
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, October 25, 2007

As usual, Think Progress gets the story about half right. Here's their spin:
In February, the Pentagon began holding Bloggers Roundtables to “provide source material for stories in the blogosphere concerning the DoD and the Global War on Terrorism.” But at these roundtables, the Pentagon has reserved space almost exclusively for conservatives and military bloggers. Some examples of the bloggers on the roundtables just this month:

Wizbang
Weekly Standard
Threats Watch
Qando.net
U.S. Cavalry On Point
Griff Jenkins (Fox News anchor)
Air Force Pundit
Military.com
Defense Technology International
Austin Bay

When the program was started in February, the calls occurred approximately once a week; since September, the Defense Department PR team has surged the roundtables’ frequency to nearly every day. Many of these conservative bloggers regularly appear on the calls, receiving unfettered access to military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. One military official explained the real intent:

[W]e’re trying to do as many of these type of blogger calls as possible to let folks know what is really going on out there and to provide the opportunity for people to hear and write about it.

Despite the regular frequency of the “Blogger Roundtables,” progressive bloggers or anti-war military bloggers are rarely featured. Furthermore, small blogs like that of Fox News anchor Griff Jenkins are featured on the calls while more prominent progressive blogs are not.
I've been a participant in this program for 3 to 4 months now. To say Think Progress doesn't know what it is speaking about would be to understate the point. It also wouldn't be unusual.

First, there is no "reserved space" for anyone. You get a notice by email that a particular person is available for a half-hour during a time (usually morning if the person is in Iraq) and date and you send an email back saying you'll be on-line or not. It could be 15 or 2 and I've been on calls with both size blogger contingents. You never know until you call in.

Let me digress for a moment. This complaint isn't new. In fact, the way I got on the Roundtable is DoD's New Media Outreach consciously made an effort to broaden the audience. Invitations to all sorts of blogs were sent out, to include liberal blogs. But you had to respond and ask to be put on the list so you could be notified when the conference calls were going to be held. If you didn't write back and make the request to be on that list, then you obviously aren't going to be invited to the call.

How do I know liberal blogs were invited. Because I've been on a call with at least one - Nicholas Beaudrot with EzraKlein.com was on a call with Jason Hyland, the Ninawa PRT leader on August 30th.

To my knowledge, that is the only call he was on, and, I've not been on a call with any other liberal blogger, even though I know they've gotten invitations (as proven by the fact that Beaudrot was on). So what's the problem? Well if I had to guess, it's that the liberal blogs simply don't answer the invitations to participate. That isn't DoD's problem or fault.

And I loved this:
Many of these conservative bloggers regularly appear on the calls, receiving unfettered access to military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yes, some bloggers regularly appear on the calls. I certainly do. Because I'm interested in hearing what's going on from the horse's mouth and I'm interested in asking questions about things concerning Iraq and Afghanistan which are of interest to me. I've been provided that opportunity. And I've taken advantage of it. Call me silly but I think that has given me an insight that is far superior to most of those bloviating about the war with little or no knowledge of what is going on other than that fed them by the media.

So here's a challenge to Think Progress and all liberal blogs that are complaining about this - my email address is up on the upper left side of the blog. Email me and I'll put you in touch with Jack Holt who administers this program. I think you'll find he has absolutely no problem putting you on the list. From there it is up to you whether or not you make the calls. Like I said, in the 3 to 4 months I've been on, only one liberal blogger has been on and not he or anyone else from that site has ever bothered to come back.

Tell me again how that's DoD's problem, will ya?
 
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I’m shocked. Shocked.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
So if the ratio of conservative to liberal bloggers who are specifically sought out is 10:1, but a liberal blogger who asks after a ruckus has been raised can get invited, that’s "balance" to you? If job hiring or college admission programs were run on the same sort of basis, but with the ratios reversed, would you find that acceptable?
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
I was wondering, actually, when this was going to come up...

So here’s a challenge to Think Progress and all liberal blogs that are complaining about this - my email address is up on the upper left side of the blog. Email me and I’ll put you in touch with Jack Holt who administers this program. I think you’ll find he has absolutely no problem putting you on the list. From there it is up to you whether or not you make the calls. Like I said, in the 3 to 4 months I’ve been on, only one liberal blogger has been on and not he or anyone else from that site has ever bothered to come back.
Since there’s invariably problems with the accuracy of articles at Think Progess, and accuracy issues as you point out, one wonders how their reflections of such gaggles as you’ve been attending will be any more accurate. And, how this will be called out, when they’re not.

Of, better yet, what happens when they try doing a Helen Thomas.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
So if the ratio of conservative to liberal bloggers who are specifically sought out is 10:1, but a liberal blogger who asks after a ruckus has been raised can get invited, that’s "balance" to you?
So you still don’t understand the point that for liberal bloggers to be "included" they have to choose to participate (or was that a bit too nuanced for you)?

Can’t make ’em call in you know.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I’ve been invited on these (and many other) conference calls, none of which I’ve responded to. I simply don’t have the time during the day to participate in conference calls for which I’m not paid, so I don’t respond to the emails alerting me to them. Despite my non-response, I continue to get invitations to such phone conference calls. I’m quite sure that the invitations are because I know Jon, but I also get emails from Hilary Clinton marketers, so make of that what you will.

My only point is that, as McQ intimates but doesn’t say, it’s not terribly difficult to get involved with these sorts of calls. If you express an interest, you will more than likely get an invitation.

Just sayin’.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
So if the ratio of conservative to liberal bloggers who are specifically sought out is 10:1, but a liberal blogger who asks after a ruckus has been raised can get invited, that’s "balance" to you? If job hiring or college admission programs were run on the same sort of basis, but with the ratios reversed, would you find that acceptable?
So if they invite ten bloggers of a liberal bent, or twenty, how many do think will actually be on the call? My bet? Zero. It wouldn’t match your...oops, I mean their meme and narrative.

Horse. Water. Drink?

I’m not gonna be as diplomatic as McQ or MichaelW. You’re either an idiot or being deliberately obtuse. I’m guessing the former.
 
Written By: Warrior Needs Food Badly
URL: http://
" progressive bloggers or anti-war military bloggers are rarely featured."

I think this may indicate the real problem. They want to be ’featured’, they don’t want to just participate. Some kids just have to be the quarterback or they don’t want to play.


"So if the ratio of conservative to liberal bloggers who are specifically sought out is 10:1"

sounds to me like they were as specifically sought out as I was by Publisher’s Clearinghouse (sort of a pre-internet, postal spam for you young ’uns).
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Here’s a something else you can do McQ, next blog roundtable, ask Mr Holt about this very issue...
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
pre-internet
This concept confuses and infuriates me!
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
I was never asked to participate in this. Apparently they discriminate against blogs nobody knows about. :-)
 
Written By: charles
URL: http://www.twoconservatives.blogspot.com
I wasn’t asked either. Apparently they discriminate against blogs that don’t exist...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Actually it doesn’t bother me if DoD DELIBERAELY excludes Liberals. Why invite the Kossacs or Jane Hamsher or Oliver Willis in so they can deliberately misrepresent what you say or ask you why you enjoy killing innocent Iraqis so much or asking if the troops are tired of serving in Chimpy McShrub’s Never-Ending Haliburton War for Oil? You invite your friends over, not your enemies.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
This concept confuses and infuriates me!
Try turning your screen off, and try again.
(Chuckle)
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
...

No, I remain confused and infuriated.

And now I can’t see what I am typing...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
"And now I can’t see what I am typing..."

Ah. Welcome to the world of ’touch typing’, another pre-internet artifact. And, in a further attempt to confuse and irritate you, I would like to add that the first computer terminal I used didn’t even HAVE a monitor. It was a modified IBM Selectric typewriter. You typed, then (eventually, if the data processing spirits were in the mood) the IBM Selectric typed back. Computer labs were a lot noisier then. Warmer, too.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Well, there was the old model 33 teletypes we used to use with the PDP11’s...

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
"PDP11’s..."

Oh, yeah. With the paper tape? A $25,000, state of the art, 8 bit machine, if I recall correctly. For my class we had to load a small (10 lines or so) program by hand, flipping 8 toggle switches, one for each bit.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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