Ever since radio entered the American private home, technology has shaped political campaign strategy. Radio brought candidates more intimately and vividly into citizens' lives than newspapers could. The televised presidential debate of 1960 -- in which a strapping John F. Kennedy embarrassed a clammy Richard M. Nixon -- was technology's next coup. In the last decade, though, it is the internet that has radically changed the way that candidates campaign: social networking sites, YouTube, and blogs have become important vehicles for political activism. And the grand editorial and political power that this group -- the "netroots," as bloggers call it -- wields has never been more apparent than in the groundbreaking 2008 presidential election.
Bloggers on the Bus traces the online events that rocked the campaign trail and reveals the untold stories of the internet activists who made them all possible. In the tradition of Timothy Crouse's classic, The Boys on the Bus, Bloggers on the Bus investigates the cutting edge of liberal politics to reveal the stories and scandals at its very heart. The cast includes everyone from former professional rock saxophonist John Amato who, years before YouTube, changed blogging forever by unleashing his TiVo and figuring out how to post TV clips online, to sixty-something Oakland housewife Mayhill Fowler, who joined the Huffington Post as a volunteer journalist and went on to break two of the biggest stories of the Democratic primary. Boehlert tells the story of acerbic West Coast blogger Digby, whose gender shocked the male-dominated blogosphere, as well as that of graphic tech Philip de Vellis, who culture-jacked an iconic Apple ad in order to create the infamous "Vote Different" video that influenced the Democratic primary. These are just a few of the bloggers pioneering the major shift in today's media who are profiled in Bloggers on the Bus. All of their efforts have set off an industry-wide debate about journalism and privacy and have permanently altered the character of campaign strategy.
Using the 2008 presidential race as a dramatic backdrop, Boehlert details the myriad ways these bloggers influenced both the candidates and their campaigns, while also chronicling the bitter blogger civil war that erupted during the contentious Democratic primary season. Offering unprecedented portraits of these new power brokers, Bloggers on the Bus goes behind the scenes to chronicle a media and political rebellion in the making.
Eric Boehlert, an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about media and politics, is a senior fellow for Media Matters for America and the author of Lapdog: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush. A former writer for Salon and Rolling Stone, he lives with his wife and two children in Montclair, New Jersey.
“This opinionated, impossible to put down narrative, chronicl[es] with cagey insider detail the failures of copycat reporting and the inspired citizen-journalists picking up the slack.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW