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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Republicans Use HuffPo And Others To Get Points Across

The Politico has a two page piece showing how some Republicans are writing over at Huffington Post and other places and while HuffPo is known for it's liberal leaning articles and far far left commenters, it is actually a good idea.

When Tom Coburn wanted to pitch his criticism of the Democrats’ health care plan last month, the senator’s office considered sympathetic media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and the conservative blog RedState.

Instead, the Oklahoma Republican went with The Huffington Post.

Despite its liberal leanings, Republican member and aides have begun heading to The Huffington Post to talk up their views.

Arianna Huffington, who co-founded the eponymous site four years ago this month, said that increased Republican engagement “is a reflection of our traffic, our brand, and the fact that we are increasingly seen ... as an Internet newspaper, not positioned ideologically in terms of how we cover the news.”

That's not exactly how the Republicans see it. While GOP aides say they're treated fairly by Huffington Post reporters, they know that their views are likely to take a beating from the site’s bloggers, commenters and headline writers.

But the opportunity for impact is irresistible.

Just as Democrats learned to love — or at least understand — the Drudge Report, Republicans flock to The Huffington Post largely because of the site’s broad reach. In April, The Huffington Post brought in a record 8.8 million unique visitors, according to Nielsen — a number that includes quite a few mainstream media journalists and cable news producers.

“With The Huffington Post, particularly, we see a lot of value in engaging with people who wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to agree with our point of view,” said Coburn press secretary John Hart, who added that it's one of a handful of sites that can have an instant impact on the national debate.

“HuffPo and [Talking Points Memo] really are the assignment editors for many in the Washington press corps — particularly the cables,” said Brian Rogers, who was a spokesman for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. “That’s not just a Republican hack saying it — that’s speaking as a press guy fielding calls and e-mails daily from the MSM that start with, ‘Did you see this thing on Huffington Post?’ They were effective and they wasted a lot of our time.”

There is another way to think about it as well.

Face it, liberals flock to liberal blogs while conservatives flock to conservative blogs to find information or links to information they may not have seen for themselves.

Preaching to the choir, so to speak.

For Huffington Post and others it works because they are seeing those conservative writers cause conflict, which ups their numbers even more, with their liberal commenters, writers and editors continuously going back to respond in the comment section of each piece.

What do those Republican writers get out of it? Exposure.

They get their message out and not only to conservatives, but to those on the opposing side of any given issue.

Does it work?

From the Politico article we see it does, indeed.

With that kind of cooperation from the right, it’s not surprising that Republican points of view have shown up on the site recently.

After House Republicans met with President Obama last month, GOP aides took shots via The Huffington Post, with one source describing Obama as “thin-skinned” in the meeting. While there were blistering critiques of Republicans among the 4,420 comments that followed, the perception of Obama as “thin-skinned” still seeped out into political conversation.

Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim, a former POLITICO staffer, said that after the House leadership released a video earlier this month questioning the White House on national security, a senior House Republican aide reached out to make sure he’d received it — that’s despite knowing how the site would probably play the story (and how commenters would react).

The piece that resulted — “House GOP Obama Ad Aims to Terrify” — likely appealed to liberal Huffington Post readers, while also drawing attention to the Republican clip, which is what the party wanted all along.

It is no different than when Democrats go on a show on Fox News... they know the general viewership won't agree with their point of view, but they are getting it out there anyway to people that usually wouldn't bother even reading or listening to anything they had to say.

Read the whole Politico piece.

The downside here?

Huffington Post does, on occasion, run with something that turns out to be completely untrue and while they do offer corrections (link is to an update after they ran with a doctored video, then realized they had been had), usually it is after the initial piece has been passed around to other liberal blogs.

UPDATE: The Huffington Post has learned that the below video has been doctored. We regret the error and apologize to Mr. Gibson. John Gibson never compared Eric Holder to a monkey with a bright blue scrotum.

Rather, as seen in the unedited video below, Gibson played audio of Holder saying "nation of cowards" -- so his full, unedited remarks were:

"We were talking about Eric Holder today on the radio and his comment that this is a nation of cowards."

The video was doctored to include Trace Gallagher's voice saying, "bright blue scrotum" where Gibson played Holder's "nation of cowards" remark. The Huffington Post does not know the source of the video's doctoring — it was picked up off TVNewser.

See the unedited video below:

That aside, there is no other downside for Republicans in using one of the left's most popular blogs to get their message seen by million that probably wouldn't see it otherwise.