Promoted from the diaries by Vladimir, an uneducated conservative blogger.
The headline on the U.S. News and World Report website read: "Sen. Sherrod Brown's Wife Makes Conservative Blogger Look Silly." On the WaPo's Politics blog the headline read, "Connie Schultz hopes for 'teaching moment' on conservative blogger's failed gotcha," and TPM wrote about "A Reporter's Failed Attempt to Sandbag Connie Schultz."
This (allegedly newsworthy) media frenzy about Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown's wife, Connie Schultz, arose from a post Schultz made to her Facebook page on July 17th:
Setting aside the overall odd tone of the e-mail (from one of the "larger conservative blogs," as Schultz described it), it's worth asking why several media outlets thought this was actually newsworthy. To date, there has been no expose written and it appears that the blogger has gone on his merry way. End of story.
But the reality is that Sherrod Brown's campaign is in trouble. 42% of Ohioans disapprove of the job he's doing and the most recent Rasmussen poll has challenger Josh Mandel within the margin of error. The Democrats are pouring millions into attack ads against Mandel - $1.5 million from Sen. Harry Reid's SuperPAC alone and the DSCC has placed $6.3 million in ads for the fall. They are desperate to keep this seat and so sending the wifey out to do some stealth campaigning is a time-tested strategy for bolstering the base at a critical time. Even better if the wifey is part of the media club.
Predictably, after a few days of media spin and fun with the story on Twitter, Brown's campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail with the subject line, "Our family scandal." Schultz's daughter, Caitlin, wrote, "Go, Mom. Fierce, funny, and direct is the only way to keep these conservative bloggers in their place."
Mike Warren from the Weekly Standard tweeted, "So the Sherrod Brown campaign is fundraising from a conservative blogger hit piece that was never published." Yes, exactly.
What's really "fierce" and "funny" about this story is the way Mrs. Sherrod Brown just drips with condescension and attempts to claim some journalistic moral high ground. She told the Plain Dealer that she didn't name the conservative blogger because she didn't want to be a bully and she wanted him to "pick better company and do better journalism."
"I can say he was working for one of the larger conservative blogs, but that his name is not in the staff directory. Maybe he's an intern, maybe an editor was playing a joke on him or maybe he was trying to get a reaction out of me. But I just want him to stop hanging around with those people and learn something out of this."
Since the vernacular used by Schultz seemed odd to me, I asked Moe Lane of this blog about interns, and he said,
"I honestly don't know what Schultz is talking about. In my experience, a blog usually defaults to not having interns at all; typically, you either write for the site, or you don't. For example, the closest thing that RedState has is to the concept is 'diarists,' and that's not even all that close: our diarists would rebel if we gave their posts the kind of scrutiny that interns would (rightly) expect. And... 'staff directories?' That's typically a list on the About page; most sites don't really have anything more structured. Most sites don't really need anything more structured. I understand that the woman is - ironically, rather provincially - trying to use the structural map of her former employer to describe what allegedly happened here, but if she really is trying to correct a supposed problem then she should at least take the time and educate herself on how blogging actually works.
"Finally, speaking personally... while I appreciate Connie Schultz's attempts to educate me, I already know how to avoid involuntary retirement for professional misconduct, thanks..."
While I'm sure conservative bloggers everywhere are grateful for her benevolence toward the poor soul upon whom Connie
privately publicly bestowed this wise advice, we're not sure she's the glowing role model portrayed in the articles. You see, what Moe is alluding to is the fact that Schultz was a columnist for the Plain Dealer until she resigned last year in the wake of a more serious "family scandal." She was, in fact, caught conducting opposition research on Josh Mandel, her husband's opponent, while covering a story for the Plain Dealer. While it was an opinion piece on a Tea Party rally, Schultz didn't disclose that Mandel had spoken at the rally (as she videotaped him) and her byline didn't mention that she is married to Sherrod Brown. She wrote in her resignation letter:
“In recent weeks, it has become painfully clear that my independence, professionally and personally, is possible only if I’m no longer writing for the newspaper that covers my husband’s senate race on a daily basis. It’s time for me to move on.”
Of course, Schultz has been canoodling with the Plain Dealer since Brown was elected to the senate in 2007 and oddly enough, Brown has been the hometown favorite at the newspaper. Their coverage of the Brown/Mandel race has deteriorated into little more than a weekly series of wild-eyed attacks on Mandel. Politifact has been especially enthusiastic about denigrating Mandel, going as far as rating a "literally true" statement by the Mandel campaign as "half true" after some hairpin turns and contortions.
Which brings us back to the reason the Plain Dealer (and other online news outlets) thought the contents of Connie Schultz's Facebook page was newsworthy last week. We understand how these family discounts work and see through the campaign-propaganda-disguised-as-news. It's the reason we knuckle-dragging conservative bloggers (who never heard of Strunk and White) will write on, with or without Connie's pats on the head.